Sunday, 30 August 2009

gruenrekorder - Thomas Andre / Eisuke Yanagisawa

another new release on Gruenrekorder's field recording series:

Thomas André - Recorded in China.

click here for samples & more info. Review below:

first of all the track listing on the sleeve is wrong, so it should be as follows:
01. Choir of the Temple of Heaven

02. Great Wall

03. Roller Coaster

04. Men Sing

05 & 06 & 07. Tao Temple

08. Night in Beijing
09. Women sing
10. Airport 6am

10 Tracks (49'17")

CD-R (50 copies)

(c)Artwork / Audio / Photos by Thomas André

Gruenrekorder / Germany / 2009 / Gr 069
Let me begin by saying that track 8 - 'night in Beijing' makes this a worthwhile purchase on it's own. In fact for me it's probably a track that is best heard in isolation from the others as it's the only one that really goes beyond the audio postcard approach of this release.
Now, I have been known to be critical of field recordings that are more or less 'travelogue' & my reasons ae simply to do with having listened to a lot of field recordings for a very long time. I don't think it's possible to capture anything emotive of a place by simply pointing a microphone at it and bunging the results onto a cd. That said, it's usually always interesting to listen to location recordings.
Many of the tracks on Thomas's cd capture aspects of local folklore - music features heavily on 4. There are many, many excellent cd's of Chinese traditional music recorded on location & while I assume the intention behind this cd was to provide a representation of the artists trip to China, I was happy to skip these tracks.
Actually, if you program your cd player to just play tracks 2, 5 , 7, 8 & 10 you have, in my opinion, the best of this cd & it seems to hang together better like this. It makes it something 'more'. These tracks feature various simple, and often quiet moments - often with a lot of activity somewhere in the landscape but somehow giving an impression that communicates something far more real and far more exciting.
The 20+ minute track (8) 'Night in Beijing' is a recording made from a 10th floor apartment balcony window where Thomas was staying. In the distance one can hear the constant sound of thousands of cars & indeed it's a sound that will be familiar to us all. In fact it's a recording of one of those sounds we all take for granted and that even can annoy us at times. It's a way of recording that I know very well & it's this way of capturing a sound that we all take for granted and presenting it in a way that allows the listener to find a new way in, a new way to appreciate sound as something good and interesting rather than an aspect of our lives that just sits there, unnoticed or serving to annoy, that makes field recording such an exciting art form.
So, do get hold of this disc - but take my advice & program your player as I mentioned above - those 5 tracks are the core of this release - they are the tracks that make this cd worth the entry price.
I recieved some of the recordings featured here from Japanese recordist Eisuke Yanagisawa sometime ago & it's good to see that Gruenrekorder have put this disc out.

Scenery of Water Eisuke Yanagisawa

Gr 060 Gruen CD-R

Field Recordings from Vietnam, Myanmar and Japan.

'We can’t listen to the water itself. We can only hear the impact of water on something. When I listen to the sounds of shallow stream for a while, suddenly I feel as if I was caught in the water and listening them from inside of the water. When I listen to the sounds of water dripping in quiet situation, my ears enjoy listening to the rhythmic patterns of its occurrence and fading into the back ground. The sounds of water make random rhythm, delicate melody and subtle overtones which vary depending on the physical contact surface, room reverberation, spatial size and so on. In other words, the sounds of water reflect the character of the space. And the space emerges through the sounds. In that sense, we may listen to the scenery through the water rather than listen to the water in the scenery' - Eisuke Yanagisawa

01 Bathroom, April 2006, Kontum, Vietnam.
02 Cicada and Stream, June 2007, Kyoto, Japan.
03 Frogs in a Shirine, May 2005, Kyoto, Japan.
04 Hanoi Rain, August 2006, Hanoi, Vietnam.
05 Hallow Pole on the Beach, September 2007, Tsuruga, Japan.
06 Kyauktan , December 2004, Kyauktan, Myanmar.
07 Rainy Morning, June 2007, Kyoto, Japan.
08 Shishiodoshi, August 2007, Kyoto, Japan.
09 Sagaing Hill, December 2004, Sagaing, Myanmar.
10 Uguisu, July 2007, Kyoto, Japan.
11 Under the Stream, August 2007, Kyoto, Japan.

11 Tracks (34′19″) Headphone listening is recommended.
Over the course of these 11 short tracks we are simply presented with a selection of recordings made by the artist that feature water in various ways. We hear dripping taps, rivers, waves & rain. Only tracks 6 & 9 appear to have other elements that dominate the recordings.
It's a hard cd to review to be honest. For the most part I'm left wnating to hear longer takes of just a few of the tracks & I can only assume that this is all that was recorded at the time. If you can get past that then you'll be ok listening to this disc. The tracks featuring rain are the most interesting for me as they do capture a sense of place - the humidity and the wet, bright green and mud coloured landscape comes into ones mind. That & the open doors of houses and buildings in countries where sweat and rain are constants.
As with several of Gruenrekorders field recording series cd's we are presented with work by artists who are failry new to field recording. At thier best that sense of early excitement and exploration comes across and in this release I think we can hear someone taking some steps forward, but it needs to be said that these are very simple recordings made with very simple equipment. There are no hydrophone recordings - these are all made with normal ambient mics.
It will be interesting to hear what he does next.

No comments: