Music Reviews

Artist: Jonty Harrison (@)
Title: Voyages
Format: CD
Label: empreintes DIGITALes (@)
Rated: *****
I imagine that some atheists or rationalists could get captivated, after they'll listen the overlapping of farming animal sounds and field recordings grabbed in some mosque full of praying devouts and in an Italian church while reciting the rosary in a moment of "Espaces caches", the first 14-minutes lasting track of this collection, assembled by an impressive quantity of sound samples, which got premiered on June 7th, 2014 during the Klang! Electroacoustique festival in Montpellier under commission by Maison des arts sonores. Similarly, fans of nautical themes or seaside places could get entranced by a group of tracks, belonging to "Going Places" where many sounds got grabbed nearby harbours and quays (including underwater echoes of the quays and floating strain at their moorings caught near Sidney Opera House, barnacles found in Sidney Harbour, in the surroundings of Great Barrier Reef, and on the beaches of the isle of Corfu - Greece -, recordings of boats, swifts and harbour activities in Corfu and Poros, boats straining taken at the yacht club in Boston, Massachusets) and lovers of Iceland - I met many people devoted to that chilling place in the recent times (hoping it's not a mass phenomenon following the funny way by which Iceland football team used to greet their supporters at the end of matches at the recent European football championship) - would be delighted by the sounds of bubbling waters taken from geothermal pools at Seltun, the buzz of radio cables hanging from Hellissandur radio masts in Snaefellsness overlapping the sound of melting ice and subterranean glacial stream, taken nearby the Solheimajokull glacier. Besides the evocative sonic collages that Professor Jonty Harrison provides in this huge selection, the aspect that could interest in sound explorer like us and most of our readers is the way by which he transplanted field recordings into stereophonic channels, particularly in the above-mentioned "Espaces caches", initially a 30-track tape for multichannel sound system, which was entirely produced and mastered by Joseph Anderson in the first months of 2016 at the Sound Lab of the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media of the University of Washington in Seattle by means of stereophonic Ambisonic UHJ Encoding. The final result of this "transcoding" process is - believe me and my headphones - really impressive, while the most relevant aspect of the 23 tracks by which Jonty split a selection from his massive sound archive, collecting a plenty of recordings grabbed during many journeys all over the world, is the criteria that he mostly adopted to group together those recordings. Most of the tracks manage to assemble events that could be related to similar or sometimes identical phenomenon or cultural happenings, where the aggregating element is mostly aural, and these aural manifestations are similar to colors depicting the same event according to more or less mysterious rules that vary by different cultural environment! For instance, you'll hear bells from four different places (Chartres, Venice, Berlin and Corfu plus the Montaione clock in Tuscany), sounds from four different railway station (Florence, Pisa, Rome and Castelfiorentino in Italy), interlacing of pipes and drums from many different sets and settings (ghaitas in Marrakech, Morocco, piccolo bands parading during the Carnival of Bael in Switzerland, bagpipers in Morelia, Mexico and aural entities such as firecrackers and the noise of coins in offering bowls in a religious procession nearby the Temple of the Reclining Buddha in Bangkok) in single tracks. Harrison's collages define an engaging way of matching audio travelogues and field recordings.

( trained audiophiles should check these guidelines for a really immersive sound experience: )

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