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Sounds of the Wind Farm in Searsburg Vermont - Sounds Of The Wind Farm In Searsburg Vermont

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Artist: Sounds of the Wind Farm in Searsburg Vermont

Album: Sounds Of The Wind Farm In Searsburg Vermont

Label: Spirit Of Orr

Review date: Jun. 23, 2004


Field recordings often put frames around ordinary sounds, and imbue auditory information with resonance and meaning beyond its original context. Think of the random quality of ocean waves and gull sounds on a relaxation CD: If one were to listen to it every night say, when drifting off to sleep the sounds would soon lose their random quality. That big wave crash, that shrieking gull would return again and again, expected, even anticipated as part of a sonic event unfolding in an established temporal organization. The shift in perception brought about by this framing is one way that random sounds might become transformed into music.

The recordists of the disc at hand set out their microphones (in this case, according to the very brief liner notes, a video camera) on a fall night to document the eerie and subtle sounds of a power-generating windmill farm on a mountain ridge in Vermont. Mechanical whirrings and whines abound, along with ebbing and flowing drones, and briefly, the distant calls of owls. The sounds of planes overhead, cars passing by, and the crunch of wheels on gravel add the occasional jarring fortissimo to an otherwise gentle and hypnotic ambience.

The idea of video surveillance at dusk might carry a hint of covert guerilla action, and the hand-made packaging of this limited edition CD-R adds to that sense: Spray paint, cardboard, and the photocopied line drawings on the case create a vibe reminiscent of the vintage Sun Ra El Saturn label releases. Its hard not to suspect that some sort of eco-political statement is being made here, especially in light of the fact that wind power is currently very controversial in Vermont. Its a clean, renewable energy source that is by necessity also very visible on the landscape, in particular upon the open, windy, mountain ridgelines. Indeed, the disc also provides a track of the wind farm recordings with the planes and cars edited out, and the difference is stunning. The wind-generated sounds are much more subtle and entrancing without the explosions of internal combustion and jet propulsion.

But besides whatever eco-political issues might be raised here, there is the alluring and fascinating mystery of the sounds themselves. Though the whirs and wines and drones may be mechanical in nature, the wind-generated patterns and structures of their ebb and flow are as complex and organic as any other force of nature, and these sounds blend seamlessly with those of falling night in the natural world.

By Kevin Macneil Brown

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