VA: 2 Favourite Places

Volume two in Audiobulb's Favourite Places series acts as a natural and satisfying complement to the first instalment. While the project is rooted in field recordings, synthetic and electronic sounds often are threaded through the pieces in such a way that they become something more than literal documents of the contributors' site selections. Not surprisingly, an air of Proustian nostalgia permeates many of the settings, with the artists often revisiting places where they grew up and attempting to recapture some trace of that experience via the creation of a sound portrait.

Lawrence English's “Quiet Planigale” situates the listener within Brisbane Forest Park around the Enoggera Reservoir where the swoops and chirps of various bird and marsupial species provide an entry-point for the Australian producer's sombre ambient treatments. Yannick Franck revisits the family home in Beaurieux, Heure-le-Romain, the suburban countryside locale where he grew up, for a becalmed evocation that draws upon sounds of his youth—the nearby river, the wind blowing outside his bedroom; an aura of wistfulness likewise permeates Sawako's peaceful return to a Japanese town where she once lived. Under his Autistici guise, Audiobulb head David Newman contributes “Winter Heather, Frozen Breath,” a dreamy meditation of quasi-gamelan character that also includes the sound of his breathing and footsteps as he takes in the panoramic view afforded by Surprise View at the The Peak District National Park near Sheffield. Perhaps the album's loveliest piece is Michael Santos's “Perfect Pitch,” which segues from a visit to Parkland Walk in London to a glistening oasis of electronic sparkle and shimmer.

While many contributors choose natural countryside settings, others opt for urban environments, such as Jeremy Bible who selects a Concrete Factory in Canton, Ohio. In one of the few overtly “musical” settings, Calika escapes from the noise of the city by visiting the skate ramp at Partridge Green; in this case, the piece's bright sing-song melodies and beats(!) convey the carefree joy and tranquility the site offers him. An exception to the rule too is Michael Trommer's “TD Path 6” (based on sounds recorded in Toronto's downtown underground pedestrian network) which assumes a rather industrial character in its emphasis on sounds generated by the hum of climate control systems and other hi-tech systems (Trommer pushes the source material into an altogether different zone, however, by using computer treatments to create an atmsopheric ambient setting). Icarus members Ollie Bown and Sam Britton bring a similar kind of collage-styled restlessness to their contribution (“South of London Drift”) as they do to their own album material.

Lest anyone think such a project lacks humour, He Can Jog selects as his favourite place the bed in his Brooklyn home, even if the piece, “Woodbine Entwist,” is distinguished more by a perky electronic song that surfaces halfway through and that includes a vocal by Inlets' Sebastian Krueger. Light-hearted or otherwise, the collection's material truly does have a transporting and immersive effect on the listener—certainly one of the raisons d'être for the project, one supposes.

November 2009