Mountains and Waters by Banks Bailey

Banks Bailey | Mountains and Waters
Unfathomless (CD)

Lovely handmade music from Brussels, always crisp, always stirring the norm a bit. This is also my introduction to the work of Banks Bailey who has released many works over the last decade (and his second on Unfathomless). This singular work runs about forty-six minutes and is full of deep vision, minimalistic and cinematic. As he presents in the photographic work for the packaging (as a photographer) I can relate to the intricate macro-state of the nature he is capturing with eye and ear. The stillness of nature, its majesty and gentle corrosion.

It’s a record of preservation and of memory. These field recordings are complex, the type of sounds you may only observe with great patience and stillness. He recorded these sounds in various locations including: Crater Lake National Park and Three Sisters Wilderness Area in Oregon (both of which I have visited, and photographed, and are awe-inspiring places), Arches National Park in Utah, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in Alaska, Sagurao National Park and the Apache Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. There is no trace of humans, per se, here – save for the oscillations accompanying this keepsake, almost clinically scientific sound specimens. Though the result is gauzy, warm, almost as if he’s managed to capture the sound of barely changing light conditions.

Between the recognizable are tonal waves with glowing pitch that lead back to intermediate bird calls and trickling waters. By mid-point this transitions into something more meditative, transcending the listener’s present sense of place. Bailey must have been exploring some higher altitudes in his capture here, there are some unique calls and tweets that sound more like a Brazilian rainforest than a national park in the US, but then again, there are always paths less explored, and he most certainly goes there.

There is this heavenly and quite intimate intersection between electronics and the natural environment that at times reminds me of the magical inverse of early ambient work by someone like Andrew Lagowski. The subtlety is exceptional. The gentle whir of wind and presumably the artist’s breath begin to slow at one point, perhaps inferring the human condition of exhaustion during the process of climbing just as a crow cawing is introduced. This is where things take a turn, almost arctic in nature, as though a frozen surface is slowly being broken. This along with a submerged blur puts you in a limbo in terms of where you may be, likely in a dreamstate.

As gentle waters lap to shore and seabirds communicate we are close to dry land once again, but the soft watery caress continues to glisten with a dreamy ambient glow.

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