3 Reviews | By textura
Every six months or so, new items appear on Lasse-Marc Riek and Roland Etzin’s Gruenrekorder imprint that present innovative treatments of field recordings-based work. Three recent projects exemplify the imaginative sensibilities artists bring to the label’s output, in this case releases by Eisuke Yanagisawa, Gregory Büttner, and Michael Lightborne (all three are available in digital form, the first two also as CDs and Lightborne’s in vinyl). As an indication of the breadth of the label’s projects, Yanagisawa’s Path of the Wind focuses on sounds generated by the Aeolian Harp, a string instrument ‘played‘ by nature, whereas Lightborne’s Sounds of the Projection Box has to do with ambient sounds originating from UK-based cinema projection booths. Each of the three releases fascinates in different ways.


Path of the Wind | Eisuke Yanagisawa
The forty-one-minute release by Yanagisawa, an ethnographer, field recordist, university professor, and filmmaker based in Kyoto, provides a remarkable illustration of the music-generating capacity of a natural element, in this instance wind. To explore the phenomenon, he first built a small Aeolian Harp using materials from a local store and then brought it outside to test it out; when no sound resulted, he adjusted the string materials and tension until a better outcome was achieved (two microphones were also adjoined to the harp to record the sounds produced). Delicate harmonic textures are generated that modify according to alterations in wind direction, strength, and consistency. []


Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt | Gregory Büttner
Hamburg-based sound artist Gregory Büttner used two contact mics to gather the base material for his long-form, thirty-six-minute composition Voll.Halb.Langsam.Halt. The raw sounds were collected when he took a trip in 2010 on an old icebreaker traveling from Rostock to Rügen over the Baltic Sea. With the ship’s body completely built from metal, it lent itself especially well to the project when different areas on the boat generated sounds different from anywhere else; Büttner even sourced recordings from the coal-fired steam engine. In constructing the soundscape, he used juxtapositions, transitions, and cuts but didn’t apply any additional sound manipulations; the detail’s worth noting as it makes the result all the more striking for the way he shaped the material into a piece that, while heavily percussive in nature, plays more like a musical work than field recording. []


Sounds of the Projection Box | Michael Lightborne
A professor in the Department of Film and Television Studies at the University of Warwick who’s currently working on a book about cinema-related environments and location sound recording, Lightborne is certainly qualified to tackle the topic of cinema projection boxes. His release, which documents the transition from 35mm to digital within the projection booth, grew out of sound recordings he began making in early 2016. By the time his fieldwork started, the majority of UK cinemas had become digital only, which made Lightborne’s desire to capture the sounds of analogue projection booths an undertaking of considerable value. Of course, the setting is so carefully enclosed it ensures that most of the sounds occurring within it are unknown to the viewing audience, which makes it easy to forget that it’s the critical center of the cinematic experience. []

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