Tuesday 9 April 2013

The English Lived Within The Songs Of The Living

Experimental music collective Room40's founder Lawrence English released a double digital edition of albums Songs Of The Living and And The Lived In the other week. It is some special field recordings (of fauna and of spaces respectively), collated over a decade,from across the globe — Antarctica, Amazon, Japan, North America, and the UK. It includes a cemetery gate in Hobart that sounds like drone music; the shore of Bribie Island, Queensland; a toy store in Japan; Brazil's howler monkeys; river dolphins and so much more. It's an incredible extension of the outside world and everything in it - a constant source of noise. It also took its toll on English - he was struck by lightning, swam in Antarctic waters to rescue gear, was assaulted by seals, swam with Bota Rosa (Amazonian Dolphins), and travelled deep under the earth in search of quiet space.

He ultimately set out to explore the role of field recordings, and these two totemic volumes stands as a documentation of what makes the art of field recording such a valuable platform for expression and discovery. As English states himself, "Field recording holds a special place in my heart - part active listening, part hunting, part happy accident, part Polaroid, part archive - though wholly personal. No two recordings made in the same place at the same time will be identical and there in lies the beauty of the work." As with all field recordings, especially of this magnitude, it isn't necessarily something that can be played at a purely aesthetic level, but there are still "happenings" within these pieces, like the gradual collapse of a microphone to the ground, abrasively hitting the grass, that hold more narrative weight and wonder than many overtly "crafted" compositions. Well worth exploring.

You can get Songs of the Living and And The Lived In here.

Room40's efforts are seemingly endless, with a few releases on the horizon (and one from Mike Cooper that I'll be talking about shortly) and many a gig. Recently there have been the stunning Oneohtrix Point Never and Tim Hecker shows - tomorrow there is the Damon & Naomi (they of Galaxie 500 - check out an article I wrote about them here, the full version of which will be on this very site tomorrow!) show at the Brisbane Powerhouse, supported by Chapter Music founder Guy Blackman (get tix here - I'll see you there!). English and his merry band of sonic explorers are always searching for amazing local and international acts (without it we wouldn't have had the likes of Grouper, Mist, Mark McGuire and High Wolf reach this balmy climes) so it is imperative that you give them your support.

Lawrence English - Cemetery Gate Hobart Tasmania (from And The Lived In)
Lawrence English - Microphone Collapsing Into Grass Sinclair Wetlands New Zealand (from And The Lived In)

Lawrence English - Daintree Rainforest At Night Australia (from Songs Of The Living)
Lawrence English - Howler Monkey Amazon Brazil (from Songs of the Living)

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