John Hudak

Birds and Reeds

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AllMusic Review by

One in a series of sound art experiments by the poet and composer John Hudak, Birds and Reeds features exactly what the title promises: birdsong and the sound of wind rustling through aquatic reeds, recorded at a landfill in Staten Island and digitally manipulated by Hudak. Unlike Hudak's earlier experiments with source recordings, these elements are recognizably themselves: this does sound, at first, like birds and reeds. As the extended piece progresses, however, subtle changes take place. Hudak's manipulation of the sounds becomes more evident, creating a harsher, more metallic sound, to the point that by six or seven minutes into the piece, the birds sound less like birds, the reeds less like reeds, and both almost take on the squealing harmonics and clashing overtones of air brakes echoing through a subway station. A subtle tension develops throughout the piece, then slowly dissipates towards the end, as the nature sounds fade into the realm of pure, abstract sound.