Bob Corn & Matteo Uggeri: Fields Of Corn – A Binaural Sound Movie In San Martino Spino
Posted In: Bob Corn, Fields Of Corn - A Binaural Sound Movie In San Martino Spino, Matteo Uggeri, Steve Dewhurst
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A sonic travelogue from the San Martino Spino parish of Mirandola, Italy, Fields Of Corn combines well-known songs like Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy’s ‘Minor Place’ with everyday conversation and street sounds to create a thoroughly absorbing, touching and thought-provoking album…
San Martino Spino was one of the worst hit areas in the May 2012 earthquakes that killed 17 people and injured a further 200. Although some of the music here was recorded as far back as 2009, the album’s release date was delayed by the tragedy and one can’t help but think of the voices presented here as ghosts from an abruptly interrupted past. The first time the album hit me as something special was when I was walking around my own local area – headphones on with cold hands deep in pockets – and outside sounds were creeping in. Rather than becoming a nuisance they seemed to merge perfectly and even enhance the listening experience; children playing outside the local nursery; men stood smoking outside the local bar; the rustle of polythene as people piled shopping bags into the backs of their cars and engines idled. Almost all of them echoed noises that were playing in my ears anyway and I got to thinking what it would be like if I were walking around the crumbled ruins of my estate and all of these things were gone… left with silence, the wind, the birds.
It’s easy, of course, to apply all this in hindsight, but there’s a lonely sadness to the songs sung by Bob Corn here that seems remarkably pertinent. He sings in a quavering voice, walking past traffic and playgrounds just as I did, sometimes drifting out of earshot and getting overwhelmed by the goings-on around him. There’s an innocence too, and one wonders whether he could ever be a part of the conversations that Matteo Uggeri builds up around him. The first one takes place between two people as what sounds like someone tap-dancing goes on in the background; there are more that take place in homes, punctuated by the clatter of cutlery, the telephone ringing and the TV chattering in the corner. Corn sings his own tender songs, the aforementioned ‘Minor Place’ and one by Italian indie rock band Sprinzi.
He’s forever stood outside windows looking in and never involved himself. He whistles in an empty tunnel as dry leaves kick up amongst his feet. On ‘Call Me My Name’ the crunch of rubble underfoot is particularly evocative – only wind in the trees can otherwise be heard and human life remains absent until Uggeri allows it to re-emerge from a sudden loud buzz. It’s the sound-artist’s most obvious contribution and it heralds the arrival of ‘Radiation’, a Comaneci song sung beautifully by an uncredited female voice – throat clearances and all – as bar sounds continue around her. Applause follows, and is conspicuous in that it never happened after any of Corn’s songs. He just keeps on walking, singing…
It might be that the word ‘binaural’ in the album’s title is a little too explicit. It is surely preferable to let the listener absorb these sounds without being made aware of technical caveats, but it does mean headphones are the only way to truly experience Fields Of Corn. The album is perfectly paced, immaculately balanced and it raises more questions than it answers. Are you looking in the window stood next to Corn, like a longing Scrooge on Death’s cold arm? Or are you sat in homes and bars surrounded by loved ones, enjoying drinks, food and conversation? I’ve been with the former, but it might be different for you.
- Steve Dewhurst for Fluid Radio