Hiroki Sasajima & Takahisa Hirao: Hidden Bird's Nest

Hidden Bird's Nest features two sound portraits sourced from the mountainous area of Togakushi, renowned as one of Japan's richest repositories of natural resources and filled with broadleaf trees and various wild bird species. Hiroki Sasajima and Takahisa Hirao chose particular location points as recording sites as a way of documenting seasonal change, and specifically focused on incorporating the sounds of living things and the vibrations of the landscape itself into the album's twenty-minute soundscapes.

Low-pitched, cavernous rumble dominates the opening quarter of “Woodland” before the sounds of other life-forms emerge, including the caw of birds, the crunch of a hiker's footsteps, and the rush of a nearby river. A steady mutation occurs as one episode bleeds into another, with woodpecker-like knocking backed by bird chirps and flowing water followed by a clamorous section of thunder and rainfall so intense it sounds as if the land is being submerged. During the piece's final minutes, humanity re-surfaces in the form of a drum circle, hand percussion, and chanting. “Sympathetic Sound,” which likewise moves through numerous episodes, presents the magnified sounds of water dribble and creaks and the interactive chatter of various creatures of the land and sky, their vocalizations heard as a captivating array of croaks, chirps, and calls. Powerfully evocative, the material enables one to not only visualize the Togakushi setting but imagine oneself situated within it, and, luxuriating in the richness of the recording's detail, one finds one's senses sharpened. Perhaps the strongest compliment one could offer to Sasajima and Hirao is to say that listening to their recording makes one desperately long to physically explore the site rather than just imagine doing so.

December 2011