Sawako: Brand New Fossil
Winds Measure Recordings

Sawako's Brand New Fossil (“fossils of radio signal and astro land,” that is) is one of the shortest singles I've heard in recent memory (about nine minutes total), but even so there's no denying its charm. To some degree that's due to its deluxe presentation, with its beautiful blue, seven-inch vinyl disc housed in an equally appealing two-colour letterpress sleeve. The single's two sides were recorded in different locales: side A was recorded with a handmade crystal radio in Brooklyn in February 2008, while the flip side comes from field recordings collected around Astroland, Coney Island in January 2009.

The material finds Sawako in full field-recording mode as she alchemizes the natural sounds of the urban environment into succinct meditations of evocative character. Much of it's pitched at a peaceful, low level, though “Season Off” does includes moments of clangor and high-pitched creak amidst the distant hum of traffic and industrial noise, and “Dot” does feature flickering radio fragments and static noise. In “Radio Stone,” on the other hand, a slow-motion, heaving swirl of glassy tones and muffled voices swirl is so becalmed it verges on celestial, and “Astro Land,” with its urban sounds submerged within a pool of dust and static, seems equally subdued. Despite its brevity, Brand New Fossil nevertheless provides a good impression of Sawako's skill as a sound-sculptor.

January 2011