Digital technology has made the field recording all the more prevalent in modern music. Recording on a smartphone or other portable devices of choice makes this possible. But there’s a very particular skill in capturing the recording, as well as a compositional intellect and a certain kind of coordination within the artistic process. At the time of recording, the artist relinquishes control to their environment.
Field recordings present unlimited opportunities; there are billions of sounds out there. Fieldwave, a new compilation from Nonclassical, and curated by DJ Nick Luscombe of Late Junction and Musicity, is a gathering of recordings, and a sign of the form’s increasing relevance. All of the featured artists incorporate field recordings in their work.
And a global feel permeates the compilation. Thanks to air travel, the world is shrinking, even as individual carbon footprints shoot off the scale. Sadly, minds are shrinking, too, with the advent of renewed nationalism and the rejection of the outsider (refugees, immigrants, tourists, etc). Fieldwave brings this to attention: the fact that the world is better off connected, as one – that sounds, like people, are the same the world over. This is music on a global scale, imbued with a deeper global message.
Field recordings drop the listener into the deep end, documenting places, environments, protests, cultures, events, movements, and acting as witnesses to history. For example, on a recent trip to Hong Kong, Nonclassical founder Gabriel Prokofiev found himself in the midst of the protests. Using a pair of microphones, he was able to record the upheaval, placing listeners right on the front line, capturing ‘chanting, cheers, and the rattle of cans being kicked down the street – a symbolic gesture criticising the police’. Appropriately, this clocks in at 26 minutes, and takes up a chunk of the running time.
Kate Carr takes the listener to a bridge in Saskatoon, Canada, while another track walks around Tower Hamlets, in London. On ‘Mr Slush’, David Bamford reimagines the inside of a London bus as a slushie machine, and Mark Vernon drops the listener off by the Risør Harbour in South Norway. Voices and other sounds – interludes in a given day – are given prominence and free reign. Fieldwave releases digitally on 17 January, and it also comes as a limited edition cassette (100 copies only).