Spotlight 8

Rodolphe Alexis
Justin Berkovi
Delphine Dora
East of Oceans
Seren Ffordd & Oophoi
Fischer and The OO-Ray
Gideon Wolf
Hallock Hill
Robert Hood
Mirror To Mirror
The Nest
Pandora's Black Book
Park Avenue Music
Parker and Element Choir
Prokofiev + Gregson
Roach and Serries
St. Dirt Elementary School
Bruno Sanfilippo
Sicker Man
Tin Hat
William Cody Watson
Waves On Canvas
Jeff Zentner

Compilations / Mixes
Matthias Tanzmann
Tartelet ‘Contemporary'

Félicia Atkinson
Alland Byallo
Kate Carr
Celer & Machinefabriek
Clark / Camden
Paul Eg
Erdem Helvacioglu
James Kumo
Lemos / Jencik
Listening Mirror
Franck Valat

Rodolphe Alexis: Sempervirent

Born in France in 1975, Rodolphe Alexis brings a pronounced environmental focus to his work, specifically with respect to how the environment is affected by human activity. He's a man of many projects: not only does his own work encompass field recordings, electro-acoustic composition, radio pieces, and site-specific installations, he's also one-half of OttoannA, a sound performance duo with Valérie Vivancos (whose debut album is set for imminent release), and a co-founder (with Vivancos) of Double-Entendre, a non-profit organization that has to date published the work of forty-two international sound artists. Sempervirent, Alexis's contribution to Gruenrekorder's Field Recording Series, melds both untouched and slightly reworked field recordings into a series of ‘sequence-shots' of Costa Rica's forest ecosystems. Nine main sites, by name Santa Rosa National Park, Caño Negro National Wildlife Refuge, Tortuguero National Park, Sarapiqui (private reserve), Tapanti National Park, La Amistad International Park, Marino Ballenas National Park, Bahia Drake (private reserve) and the Corcovado National Park), were visited in order to document activity within various forests (coastal evergreen, tropical dry, and deciduous), mangroves, and wooded riverbanks and floodplains.

The fifty-five-minute recording is ultimately more a portrait of the species inhabiting the sites than the sites themselves (even if clear changes in weather are sometimes apparent). Every one of its ten settings is earmarked by a distinctive cry or call, whether it be a mantled howler monkey, olive tree frog, scarlet macaw, or greater white-lined bat. Alexis has sequenced the recordings so that they span a full day from an Altamira sunset and riverside dawn to a Santa Rosa night. The sound of footsteps creates the impression of a recorder moving from one location to another, experiencing the different species at each of the sites. As two representative examples, “At Dawn Among the River” and “The Call, the Gathering, the Storm” feature contrasting vocalizations that are striking (the mantled howler monkey's especially), and the constant flow of grunts, calls, barks, whistles, and chirps evokes a remarkable sense of place for the listener. In the latter piece, thunder and rain temporarily silence the creatures' chatter (presumably they've all taken shelter or run for cover), but that's a rare occurrence on a recording that largely positions them front and center. For listeners so inclined, the recording's an educational listen, too. “Parabolic Amphibian Mix,” for example, offers a single-handed lesson in tree frog varieties, with the sabinal, tink, tungara, Mexican white-lipped, olive tree, canal zone, and volcan barba all making appearances. Mention also should be made of Gruenrekorder's elaborate packaging, in particular the twelve-page booklet whose colour photographs complement the aural content by providing images of the various species, including the mantled howler monkey and scarlet macaw. There's a subtle ecological dimension to the recording as well, given that the Costa Rica sites are now territory refuges for many neo-tropical species in danger of extinction. Sempervirent teems with life in a way that enhances one's awareness of how invaluable such sites can be to the preservation of endangered wildlife.

September 2012