Footfalls – A Soundwalk Series

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Footfalls – A Soundwalk Series
Flaming Pines (USB/DL)

This nifty gadget arrived in the mail looking like a compass in a little tin jewel box, and folding out into a usb fob emblazoned with a fully-fledged recording including three field recording compositions by Nick Luscombe, Maria Papadomanolaki and Virgilio Oliveira respectively.  This is appears to be the beginning of a budding new series of such collections from London’s Flaming Pines.

Let’s start with Footsteps on a Coat of Arms, Arches and Echoes by Papadomanolaki recorded in London at the gorgeous Ravenscourt Park, presumably in the Autumn given the crunchy leaves and somewhat quietude. She captures a gaseous roar, the clanging of gates, a few distant children’s voices, barks, as well as the occasional human hoot, likely her own. Wooden blocks fall and are nudged, giving this a playful walk in the park possibly paired with a studio session overlay. As the series connects the acts of walking, listening and sounding – so shall we, the listener. The fore/background aid and abet each other with fleeting goings-on that pass even amid the play with metal surfaces and other rattling. When she adds a rumbling sky this is infused with a sense of being there. It’s contemplative, responding to the immediate surroundings with a sense of grace.

Once we move on to Luscombe‘s Tokyo Soundwalk, a voiceover (like one at a train depot or airport) comes over a loudspeaker. His sound is delivered via a locomotive on the move, perhaps he’s on one of those high-speed railways I’ve only dreamed of. At one stop a sort of musical ditty, like ‘animated magic’ plays almost erroneously within the mix – but make no mistake, each decision here seems precise, moving from silence to high heels on a hard surface, to teenagers yucking it up. This is a deeply urban sound, as if you’ve been instantly transported to the center of the city, with all its literal bells and whistles. The murmur of engines that drive the place, and the people, are embedded cleverly, as are the percussion of objects (presumably goods: newspapers, boxes) being dropped, or opened. The balance/volume shift and grow as this moves forth. This is a work of subtle actions, and within a montage, become a kaleidoscope of little transactions and circumstances (a cash register, the sound of a door opening and a melody playing to alert the shopkeep) we’d otherwise take for granted.

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Finally we have Feira Semanal de Viseu by Oliveira who explores Viseu’s weekly market, in Portugal. Such a lively vibe to the crowd, of tape being dispensed, this is an ASMR-lover’s dream. In the exchange of goods and services there is much conversation. The endearing call to customers and tourists from vendors who are shouting about what they offer in their stalls… food, clothing, furnishings. Being one who is always aware of the rise and fall of din in a crowd, the maker did not shy from the most motivated people. There’s a dull quasi techno beat in the background that creates a pulse to the goings-on. With bags rustling the sound of the people goes from calm-before-the-storm to avalanche given the corners the recordist takes. Males voices, female voices, children’s voices…and the sound of a toy police siren and a flock of lil’ chicks which he gets closer and closer to – you can hear the cages rattle in this highlight to the piece. It’s a colorful vision.

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