“Sometimes, we need to stop (everything) if we are going to start to realise new ways of being in this world” – Lawrence English
Field Recordings from The Zone sees Brisbane’s Lawrence English sink deeply into five ambient pieces, which were recorded throughout Queensland just after the devastating Australian bushfires and before the Coronavirus lockdown. The ‘zone’ is a period of transition and flux, uncertainty and unlimited potential. The zone offers a chance to start afresh, while the pre-lockdown, older side appears skeletal, frail, and doesn’t want to relinquish power in the face of a new lifestyle.
It would be dangerous to forget 2020 and revert back to an older way of life. It may even help to teach us valuable lessons. Instead of progressing, an eventual reopening may lead to a reversal of what we have learned and adapted to, a return to mass pollution and the slavery of capitalism. The powers-that-be will try to snatch it away thanks to ingratiation and indoctrination, but a decrease in traffic has given the sky a deeper shade of blue and the air has been cleansed, albeit a respite rather than an outright recovery. Old habits die hard, but growing pains always accompany growth and progression.
Immense change can be a breeding ground for anxiety and uncertainty if you let it become so, but it also ushers in unprecedented opportunities and renewal; evolution isn’t possible without change. A dying of the old leads to new birth. As English says, ‘2020 will be simultaneously remembered as a year of unsparing decay and new growth, born from old dust’.
The international and continental ravaging has seen much suffering and pain, and it’s led to deeper introspections and opportunities for renewal. The coming of the virus stopped and then permanently changed the world in what seemed like a second, laughing at our false sense of control when the usual and habitual was obliterated and reborn in a single season. As the world shut down, one door closing after another, the quietude increased, and the music of Field Recordings From The Zone opened its eyes.
The whine of a jet engine faded away and those noise-polluted sounds of the older days open up the record, with scattered and ever-so-faint traces of another world. The ambient noise isn’t really noise at all, but the deeper breathing of the planet and the natural atmosphere, before it was built upon and abused. Those sounds are imbued with their own unique rhythms, swelling up and falling back, rumbling just below the surface. The zone features music of restoration, healing, hibernation, and slumber. Sounds from the zone, yes, but also of the Earth.
‘As the before world faded, one plane, one car, one shop and one construction site after another, a cascade of previously diminished (even mute) sonic beacons came echoing across the quietening neighbourhoods. Sounds that had previously been all but consumed over years of a mounting and ever-intensifying ambient noise floor’.
English describes the record as being ‘a study of the world’, and we are all in a global zone – right here, and right now. Much of the world is stuck in a mire, either scarred by anxieties or calmed by the prospect of introspection and re-evaluation. Droplets of rain and a screeching, eerie wind take the place of a more-human vocal or voice, and the muted sounds produce a distant, post-apocalyptic feel, echoing as if from another dimension while bringing the immediacy of a crisis and a lockdown to the forefront, which contrasts the relative peace and quiet with live-wire-undercurrents of stress, a snake slithering in the long grass. Sounds break through, sometimes in a violent fashion, the air around the music transmitting a virus as well as thunderous, fundamental change. Nothing will be the same. This is the sound of a world on pause and the dawning of a new era.