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Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich and Murmer - Lind, Raud, Aastaajad

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Artist: Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich and Murmer

Album: Lind, Raud, Aastaajad

Label: Invisible Birds

Review date: Mar. 23, 2012

Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich and Murmer - "Aastaajad 1" (excerpt)

While perhaps still regarded by the masses as strictly for the movies, field recording, or phonography — the practice of using microphones to record an environment outside of the usual studio and concert settings — has come a long way in breaking predictable ties to the film industry, while also distancing itself from the back alley ethno-music documentation that also tends to fall under the same identifier.

This gaining autonomy, as I see it, is a result of a multi-faceted propulsion of artists and independent organizations bringing field recording to the fore. There’s The Field Reporter blog, that advocates for the emotional potency of phonographic work through detailed reviews and historical insight. Radio shows such as Framework, on Resonance 104.4fm out of London, focus on field recording and its use in composition, inviting the world to open their ears and listen. Finally, artists like Chris Watson, whose close work with the BBC, has without a doubt done much in putting phonography on the map.

While Chris Watson’s name has somewhat become synonymous with contemporary field recording practice, the three artists featured on Lind, Raud, Astaajad — Yannick Dauby, John Grzinich, and Patrick McGinley (a.k.a. Murmer) — have certainly proven their own adeptness at capturing sounds from environments that span the globe.

The first of this two-disc set is a collection of recordings from Estonia by Dauby, capturing the sounds of birds and metal. By Dauby’s accounts, and those of John Grzinich — who accompanied Dauby through the countryside — Estonia is a largely quiet and empty place; Dauby even describes it as a “wide open mental space,” attesting to the difficulties a sound hunter is likely to encounter there. Despite this, Dauby presents over an hour’s worth of recordings that more or less alternate between bird songs and contact microphone recordings of metal structures being activated by wind. Cleverly, the bird recordings rarely breach three minutes in length, so as to not exhaust their brilliance, and to act as melodic counterparts to the much longer metallic drones.

The second disc of this set presents two tracks each by Murmer and Grzinich, featuring electronic sound accompaniment by Dauby. While Dauby’s stand-alone recordings on the first disc were representationally honest — in the sense that they were very true to the sounds one might actually hear if placed in such an environment — disc two’s focus is on the use of field recording in a processed composition, reinterpreting Dauby’s “snapshot” take on the form.

The compositions aren’t rendered beyond interpretation of the source material, though. Sounds like flowing water, buzzing flies, footsteps in snow, and birds are clearly heard amid the lush drone, which acts as the pulse to these pieces. Dauby’s presence here is understated until the closing moments of “Kevad,” where amassing electronic overtones crescendo into one of the finer moments of the album.

There isn’t any new field recording ground being broken on Lind, Raud, Aastaajad. But the disc showcases what these three artists strive for in their music — a liveliness that can exist in even the most quiet, and desolate of places.

By Adrian Dziewanski

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