Sometimes, arguably at its best, music has transportative qualities, either by capturing the essence of a place, or by triggering a memory which takes the listener to another time or place. On Voyages, Jonty Harrison marries these elements together.
The field recordings collaged to form ‘Espaces caches’ are eclectic, from birdsong and passing traffic to distant voices, the wash of waves, and creaking doors. Lifts and tannoy announcements, trains and miscellaneous, extraneous sounds bring the city and countryside together over a low-level hum.
‘Going / Places’ takes the travel and transportation theme further, having been inspired, Harrison explains in the accompanying notes, by contextualising the work thus: ‘One day, nearly 25 years ago, when I was recording a journey on the London Underground, a lost overseas visitor asked me directions: that incident gave me the idea for a piece based on the broad theme of travel…’
And, essentially, ‘Going / Places’, is a collection of field samples which documents a journey, or a succession of journeys, literal and mental. Because geography is a state of mind. It’s perhaps worth taking into account the fact that while the sounds were gathered from around the globe, the listening experience – even on a mobile device – is likely to e rather more fixed, geographically speaking. And the location is the context, is a way.
Although the track listing shows this as a single track with a running time of 59:55, the disc is mastered to twenty-three individual tracks, all segued, with some of the segments less than a minute long. Along the way, Harris takes sounds from different countries, and gives flavours of myriad different cultures. Ringing bells on trams, marimbas, chatter of a bustling market, birds and insects, myriad sounds of life, and life on the move. The sense are vivid, vibrant, recorded in full colour (so to speak). There’s a palpable sense of movement, of motion here, and Harrison describes the segments as ‘scenes’. In his ‘rough guide’, he lists the locations and sound sources. The notes, in their way transport you there.
With this album you may never need to leave the house to cross the oceans to explore the world. But after hearing it, you may want to.