Posts Tagged ‘Field Music’

Folk Wisdom – FW007 – 21st October 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

It begins with a drip. Then silence. Another drop. Irregular, both in pitch and distance apart. Bubblish, sloshing. Chiming, ringing notes skip over the swashing ripples. Pipes and people, all passing through. And throughout, continuously, the sound and sensation of running water, or, at last, the evocation of running water. The sounds are fluid, metaphorically where not literally. It’s a graceful, natural sound. But beneath the organic, idyllic surface lies a serious and darker undercurrent.

Initially inspired by an expedition to the Tujuksu glacier near the Kazakh city of Almaty, Gletschermusik began with the recording of sounds of the glacier, at an altitude of 3,500 metres, melting. Many artists would have been content to have left it there: field recordings can be fascinating in themselves, and Geir Jenssen’s Stromboli – recorded at the edge of the crated of the bubbling volcano – stands as one of my favourite field recording releases of all time. The recordings, made by the placement of highly sensitive microphones in the crevices of the glacier, proved to be just the beginning, though, and the project would evolve through a succession of life performances and an international conference.

With climate change being perhaps the greatest challenge to face humanity at any point since prehistory, it’s laudable to find artists engaging in such a way, without taking a messianic stance. Gletschermusik is a project born out of a genuine desire to raise awareness and prompt discussion. Be honest, who even knew there were glaciers in Kazakhstan? And yet, as far back as 2003, there were reports emerging that the glaciers in the former Soviet republic were melting at an unprecedented pace. It’s a project that provokes thought.

Subtly, and intelligently, the project reminds us that water, and the planet, is mutable. Gletschermusik (literally, ‘glacier music’) takes the sounds and images of the melting glaciers as its inspiration, but ventures out in various different directions. As such, this is a work which has been composed and performed rather than belonging to the world of field recordings. Sonically, it’s a wide-ranging electroacoustic set. While ‘Winter into Spring’ highlights the small changes the seasons bring, in relative terms, the album as a whole is concerned with the long-term changes and the effects of global warming. ‘Eiskritalle’ introduces dynamic drumming, while ‘Geologdun Yry’ takes the form of an acoustic folk song. It is, by its nature, a highly personal response to the natural world and man’s difficult relationship with his environment. Consequently, the individual pieces do not necessarily evoke glaciers, or if so, not in any conventional sense in terms of the languages of music or criticism: there are no icy synths or interminable crawls to be heard on Gletschermusik. Similarly, the drama of such cataclysmic ecological and environmental change is not expressed in dramatic, tempestuous crescendos that boom foreboding. Gletschermusik is remarkable for its delicacy, its easy musicality. It’s rare and also extremely welcome to find a work which is conceptually heavy but handled with such lightness.

 

Gletschermusik

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This May the hotly-tipped and critically-acclaimed 4-piece Field Music return with ‘Rainmaking’, a dark, enveloping new EP that sees them hone their atmospheric craft. The long-awaited follow up to their mesmerising debut ‘Celestial’ sees Field Studies explore more raw, bleak textures – the band self-recorded the EP over a long winter, almost exclusively at night, capturing the eerie environment of their frozen suburban recording space across 4 haunting tracks.

Inspired by the organic, layered approaches to recording employed on seminal records like Talk Talk’s Spirit of Eden and Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Field Studies hugely diversify their sound on ‘Rainmaking’, and the ominously haunting ‘Listener’ will be the first track to be released, out this April in anticipation of the new EP.

Mixed and mastered by Pete Fletcher, ‘Listener’ will be available on April 22nd exclusively from the band’s own bandcamp page. Field Studies new EP ‘Rainmaking’ will be released this May via Denizen Recordings. You can hear it below, now.

 

 

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Apr 07 – NOTTINGHAM – Bodega (Supporting Kiran Leonard)
Apr 08 – MANCHESTER – Night n Day
Apr 14 – CAMBRIDGE – Portland Arms
Apr 23 – IPSWICH – John Peel Centre
Apr 30 – LONDON – Heath Street Baptist Church