the art of listening.
June 15, 2013 12:47 AM   Subscribe

MeFites to whom this level of appreciation applies: What are your favorite, most arresting, entrancing, or otherwise awe-inspiring [field / ambient / nature / soundscape] recordings? I'm looking for more to enrich my ever-increasing collection of otherworldly sounds that are very much of this world.

...And by "ambient" I mean it in the literal sense. No synthesizers or studio-mediated sounds, please.

I particularly love natural drones, nautical sounds, the sounds of human inventions in natural environments, recordings which play upon one's depth perception or have a very location-aware sound about them (really putting the "field" in the recording).

To get started, here are some of my favorites:

Fog Horns

Bill Fontana, Landscape Sculpture with Fog Horns, 1981
Bill Fontana - Ohrbrücke / Soundbridge (Köln - San Francisco), 1987
James Lipsky, The Kewaunee Foghorn, 1972
Stephen Barncard - Foghorns of the Golden Gate, 2011
Sally Scobey - Holland Harbor Light Fog Horn, Holland, MI 1970

Ritual and Religion in the Landscape

Justin Bennett, The Mosques of Tanger
Pepet Zintle - Ancient ritual at night at the slopes of the Ganges, Varanasi
Pepet Zintle - Muslim calls for prayer and insects in a Western Java Jungle area, Indonesia

Sea Songs

Gene Flipse - Silver Bank Humpback Whale Chorus, February 12, 2013
Douglas Quin - Weddell Seals (Underwater)
Jean C. Roché - La baleine franche boréale 2
Josh Inport - Bearded seal trill in the Chukchi Sea, Alaskan Arctic


avfreq (Soundcloud user) - Thunderstorm T14b 11APR12
Ray Mansell - Thunderstorm, Monday, 25 June, 2012

Wind and Wires

Felix Blume, Aeolian Wind Harp Sounding in Elqui Valley of Chile, February 2012
Jurko Haituu, Singing Pipes at Åreskutan (hydrophonic recording)
Alan Lamb, Night Passage
Alan Lamb, Primal Image

Compilations & Miscellany

Bill Fontana, Field Recordings of Natural Sounds
R. Murray Schafer - The Vancouver Soundscape

I have also collected hundreds and hundreds of muezzin recordings from YouTube, SoundCloud, etc., so there are far too many of those to mention. But I always welcome more such recordings made for CD release (whether commercial, artistic, or anthropological in nature).

Your recommendations greatly appreciated!
posted by mykescipark to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 69 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Toshiya Tsunoda - Scenery of Decalcomania
My recording works are an activity to re-recognize the expansion of space and time by examinating vibrations of things.By these observations, "environment" is dynamically depicted and at the same time, "insideness" or one of "wholeness" also can be found. And there, we can discover the figure of "environment" where our experience and perception momentarily come together at any moment.
(translation by Atsushi Yonemoto)
(he's probably the only person working in the area you're asking about that I can listen to)
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:41 AM on June 15, 2013

Best answer: Oh, and if you haven't heard it 100 times, you should: Luc Ferrari - Presque Rien
I wanted to be a radical as possible, and take it to the limit in terms of using natural sound, by not including any artificial, sophisticated sound at all. Once I'd done "Presque Rien N° 1" I didn't need to be that radical anymore. There's one landscape, a given time, and the radical thing is precisely that it's just one place at one specific time, daybreak.

What's nice about the "Presque Riens" is that you really notice the things you hear, and eventually there's a moment where sounds stand out more than they normally would. I went everywhere with my tape recorder and microphone, and I was in this Dalmatian fishing village, and our bedroom window looked out on a tiny harbour of fishing boats, in an inlet in the hills, almost surrounded by hills-which gave it an extraordinary acoustic. It was very quiet. At night the silence woke me up-that silence we forget when we live in a city. I heard this silence which, little by little, began to be embellished... It was amazing. I started recording at night, always at the same time when I woke up, about 3 or 4am, and I recorded until about 6am. I had a lot of tapes!

And then I hit upon an idea-I recorded those sounds which repeated every day: the first fisherman passing by same time every day with his bicycle, the first hen, the first donkey, and then the lorry which left at 6am to the port to pick up people arriving on the boat. Events determined by society. And then the composer plays! (Smiles) I'm free, I play with freedom... I think it's good to have a really strong concept-and then to forget it. If not, things can pass you by... You have to listen to your intuition.
posted by Joseph Gurl at 1:45 AM on June 15, 2013

Best answer: I almost posted a link to your website in here.

Marc Weidenbaum made a good recording of San Francisco's Outdoor Public Warning System.

FoundSound has a separate netlabel for field recordings: Unfields.
posted by mkb at 2:04 AM on June 15, 2013 [1 favorite]

Quiet American
posted by davebush at 5:35 AM on June 15, 2013 [5 favorites]

You're far more knowledgeable about this than I am but I'll throw out two I like in the off chance you're not familiar with them:

Annea Lockwood's Sound Map of the Hudson River

Chris Watson's (formerly of Cabaret Voltaire) field recordings, especially Outside the Circle of Fire
posted by snez at 6:48 AM on June 15, 2013

Seconding that Toshiya Tsunoda album.
posted by unreadyhero at 8:18 AM on June 15, 2013

"Fall" from Wendy Carlos' Sonic Seasonings, from 1974.
posted by Rash at 6:30 PM on June 15, 2013

You might also give Dach a listen, or even some of the Wandelweiser composers (Beuger?)...
posted by Joseph Gurl at 7:01 PM on June 15, 2013

Although not quite what you're looking for, I immediately thought of Ingram Marshall. His early work: Fog Tropes (1981) -- for brass sextet and tape -- is thoroughly cerebral on a serene evening.
posted by lonemantis at 8:16 AM on June 16, 2013

You should watch Shane Carruth's Upstream Color and listen to the soundtrack, since half the movie is about making those recordings.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 5:56 PM on June 16, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for the thoughts, friends.

I love "Fog Tropes" (although it is somewhat of a stepchild to the original question), and I am quite familiar with Annea Lockwood, Chris Watson, and the Quiet American.

That Ferrari piece is terrific, and I'm amazed I haven't paid attention to Toshiya Tsunoda before.

I'll have to venture up to SF and record the Outdoor Public Warning System myself!
posted by mykescipark at 1:21 PM on June 20, 2013

« Older Trying to find a poet   |   I don't want to f*ck; I want to make friends. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.