Review

Joe+N

Tokafi

Location Study - field recording compilation CD -

Save yourself that walk: A fresh angle and perspective in field recordings.

Field recordings are doomed to remain a niche forever – the majority of listeners will simply claim you might as well save the money and take a walk. It's quite obvious, then, that the field recording cosmos is driven by a small but dedicated group of artists and labels. Their work is prolific, professional and prosperous and yet it fills us with great enthusiasm and hope whenever a new record company appears on the scene and allows for a fresh angle and a slightly different perspective. Dirty Demos, a fledgling outfit from Swanage, England, therefore has our immediate and full attention, as they release "Location Study".

On face value, this is yet another album packed with recordings from all over the world and a quick glance at the contributing artists reveals the inclusion of some of the genre's major players: Lasse-Marc Riek of Frankfurt-based Gruenrekorder takes us to the bridge of Mostar, while Aaron Ximm, whose Quiet American project is considered by some as seminal, listens to the hammerings and hollers of a houseboat construction site. The rest of the lineup, however, consists of names with smaller discographies to their credit.

With the exception of Joe Tunis (aka Joe+N), all represented artists hail from the UK and this effectively turns "Location Study" into a genuine introduction to the country's field recordings scene. This aspect is strengthened by the fact that – and this distinguishes this compilation from most others out there – all acts have contributed at least two tracks, allowing for red threads to show up. Adrian Newton's childhood fascination for Kraftwerk (and possibly "Trans Europa Express" in particular), for example, has translated into two studies of "Rural Machines", capturing the sounds of different train-related sites. Kurt Tidmore, meanwhile, is interested in the busker as a mediator between modernity and tradition and a metaphor for the lonely musician amidst the crowd. The album also does an excellent job at portraying the huge differences in approach.

Aforementioned Joe Tunis' pieces are frail and long, aiming at immersing his audience fully in quiet scenes around dawn, while others care more for poignant impressions of only a couple of seconds' length. And while Riek stresses the documentary character of his work with minute and precise titles ("Little lake with several birds, crickets, frogs, insects, sheep and dogs"), others leave the exact details to the fantasy of the listener (Ollie Hall's "Metro Journey", for example).

Field recordings, it once again turns out, are open to many interpretations. They are never arbitray – except where explicitely conceived as such – and direct the attention of their audience in various, stimulating directions. So does "Location Study", which thanks to its refreshing concept takes us a step further to a full appreciation of the genre and introduces us to its richness. At a mere 5.50-6.00 pounds, you should save yourself that walk and take this headtrip instead.


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