In The Field: In The Field
Dissolving Records

“Curiouser and curiouser!” cried Alice during her stay in Wonderland—an expression that also springs to mind while listening to In The Field, a fifty-minute recording that takes the field recordings concept to a whimsical extreme. Dissolving Records head “Thomas” recorded each of the album's eight tracks in a single take during July-August 2008. And what does one hear in the tracks? Prepared tape loops playing on old cassette players scattered outdoors in fields of long grass and merging with other acoustic sounds. Each piece was recorded with a single hand-held stereo-recording device that Thomas carried with him through the environment, an approach that in turn caused different sound sources to advance or recede depending on the device's location.

A plenitude of natural sounds—chirping birds, water, distant traffic noise, honking gees, the arc of a far-off plane—quietly commingles with the grainy murmur of Thomas's smeary loops to form a whole that's suggestive of a living and breathing organism undergoing constant flux and metamorphosis. Vaporous hiss and blurry melodic fragments combine in “Chromatic Discussion in the Evening” to generate a rather aquatic ambiance—rustling and traffic sounds notwithstanding. Slowly descending melodies lend a hint of melancholy to a whistling environmental mass during “The World Moving” while chime-like tinkles flutter, almost buried under a thick blanket of outdoor noises, in “Listening.” Though there would seem to be a strong “chance” dimension to the recording, its content actually comes across as more carefully shaped than random. Listening to the recording is like lying in a country field and closing one's eyes while taking in the wealth of natural and industrial sounds that, during such brief moments of surrender, blend into a dream-like whole.

April 2009