Camilla Hannan: Strangelands

Track titles aside, next to no information accompanies Strangelands by Australia-born sound artist Camilla Hannan, which makes it pretty close to an exercise in pure listening. The field recordings she collected in Australia and Europe between 2009 and 20013 and that are featured in the four settings reflect her desire to use processed field recordings to create abstract environments using sonic means.

Hannan's kaleidoscopic view patiently surveys the terrain and records it as a smoothly flowing series of flickering episodes. Industrial noises and natural sounds collide, at times violently, within the opening piece, “Coburg Palms,” the material documenting reverberations within a factory space, the squeal of an arriving train, and the amplified pelting of rain or snow on a hard surface. And while there might or might not be an actual “Eric's House,” the scene conjured is unsettling whether physically real or not. In the first of two ten-minute-plus pieces on the thirty-eight-minute release, Hannan conjures a creepy mood in the opening section using high-pitched whistles and percussive taps before shifting the focus to city-based human interactions and hydraulic machine sounds of indeterminate origin.

Without question, the four settings are powerfully evocative (the windswept convulsions and geological rumblings of the title track included), even if they allude to imaginary places. In the final analysis, the cute animal-human characters displayed on the cover are as enigmatic as the sound material itself, but Strangelands is no less engrossing for being so.

October 2013