02 September 2010

Chris Watson & BJ Nilsen - storm (2006, Touch)

The starting point of this collaboration was of pure meteorological substance : during December 2000 several significant storm fronts had developed across the North Sea and Scandinavia and BJ Nilson (in Sweden) had made field recordings of those on the Baltic Coast and submit the idea to Chris Watson (in UK).


During the next five years, they gathered recordings on their respective coastlines and islands, specially during the stormy periods of the autumnal equinox and winter solstice.

There are three tracks, two solo one and one as a duo, all composed, edited and mixed in 2006.  While no instruments are used, while the ingredients are created by microphones in various places and times capturing sounds from the environment, "Storm" is not simply a collection of field recordings because what they recorded would amount for days. The next and real interesting step is done with mixing, editing and collaging and creating through the process something musical and intense.

"No Man's Land" by Chris Watson is a total aural experience in the sense he disappears himself of his recordings, there is wind, thousands of sea birds, waves, seals, sounds above and below water, everything rearranged for a gradual process in unknown or at least suspected direction, you may think you know about such sounds but Chris Watson confronts you with the mysteries of unknown dimensions, these are the sounds you would hear as a rock or as a blade of grass, tormented by the elements - and you would not go there with such bad weather - , like those lamentations of seals or frequencies below the water. 

At the opposite side, "Austrvegr" by BJ Nilsen offers a contextual human perspective, you can feel him, experiencing wind gusts and rain showers, on the coastline, into various shelter or outside, in the wild. Sometimes distant seabirds pass through or we walk close to dying waves with always the 
muffled sounds of the storm in the background, or rain is falling on the roof of a shed.

"SIGWX", the collaborative track falls somewhere between the two, mixing nature and context, like audio recordings of an imaginary documentary, a population of seals resting on the beach while a storm is preparing with distant sounds of thunder. Then it turns into a walk along the cliff, with the sound of feet and those of waves, then through woods close to the sea with mixed sounds of water, wind and birds. The rain is coming, more and more, sheltered under trees we are waiting. Finally as the storm is receding we walk through the flooded land. It ends on an more abstract note with strange frequencies, maybe of percolating water while sea birds are singing.

An impressive record.

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