2012 Artists' Picks

The Alvaret Ensemble
The Boats
Enduser / The Teknoist
Alejandro Franov
Christoph Funabashi
The Inventors Of Aircraft
Kostis Kilymis
Lau Nau
Madera Wind Quintet
Todd Matthews
Lubomyr Melnyk
The Outside Agency
Pleq + Philippe Lamy
Roach & Metcalf
Martin Schulte
Jay Shepheard
Tape Loop Orchestra

Compilations / Mixes
Darkroom Dubs Vol.3
Petre Inspirescu
Pop Ambient 2013
v-p v-f is v-n

EPs / Cassettes / Singles
Bee Mask
Fluorescent Heights
William Ryan Fritch
Junction 12
Lind and Loraine
Alessan Main
Show Me The Future
10 Yrs 45 Vol. 10
Wolf Cub

VA: v-p v-f is v-n
Winds Measure Recordings

Some field recordings-based releases provide copious amounts of background detail as part of the package, which can be immeasurably helpful in visualizing how the material came into being and understanding its origins. There's something to be said, however, for the opposite approach, which involves providing no information except for a title, as mystery is preserved and the listener is left to deal with the aural material on its own terms. A model example is Winds Measure Recordings' v-p v-f is v-n (issued in an edition of 230 copies), a two-disc compilation series that focuses specifically on unprocessed field recordings contributed by past, present, and future collaborators. As is always the case with Winds Measure Recordings, the release is presented with tasteful austerity, with in this case a letterpressed sleeve text accompanied by an actual colour photograph on the front cover.

Many of the pieces were recorded in natural settings. Listening to the fourteen minutes of water dribble and crackle that comprise Daniel Blinkhorn's “Coral-Cnidaria,” one closes one's eyes and tries to conjure the scene (it helps that Cnidaria refers to phylum that includes jellyfish, coral, and hydra). The second of Blinkhorn's three contributions, “Crab-Coenobita” is presumably an up-close recording of a terrestrial hermit crab at a watery locale. In “Waiorua Rotations,” Sally Ann Mcintyre takes us to New Zealand for fourteen minutes of rustling winds, bird chirps, distant water sounds, and a wind-blown object's repeated clangor. Simon Whetham's “Estonian Swamp” teems with the chatter of insects and birds, while Ben Owen (“864-1 Elbe”) and Lasse-Marc Riek (“Lake”) both use water locations as focal points.

Martin Clarke's “Gate” emits powerful creaks, hinting that it's probably a large hydraulic device of some kind, but one can only guess (on a similar theme, Ben Owen also contributes the brief “Thames Gate”). In addition, Michael J. Schumacher takes us deep inside a loudly buzzing “Air Conditioner Duct” for nine minutes, relentless wind squalls provide a blurry and grainy soundtrack to Eric La Casa's “Night Train in Montlouis,” and Alan Courtis's “Amsterdam-Brussels Train” moves the locomotive machinery to the forefront. The recording's biggest departure is “In Place: Panorama Weg, Zurich (Excerpt),” which presents Jason Kahn's voice intoning text for fifteen minutes. The piece obviously offers an arresting sonic contrast to the other pieces, but the text itself is captivating, too. Positioning himself outside the city for the better part of a day, Kahn ruminates on assorted phenomena—trains, jets, hawks, wind flowing through the trees—and the experiences of looking and listening.

In its unassuming way, v-p v-f is v-n is a radical recording in how uncompromisingly it presents its unprocessed field recordings. No musical sweetening is added nor other strategy deployed to make the material more accessible, which will make the release seem like nirvana for the hardcore field recordings enthusiast but a challenge for someone less inclined. For the former, the release's eighteen settings offer a diverse and encompassing portrait of the natural and industrial worlds.

February 2013