Jana Winderen

Energy Field

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Jana Winderen's first full-length release for the Touch label (following the live EP Heated) is a wondrous thing. Winderen uses hydrophones to record sound worlds below sea level, and she favors ecologically significant environments. Energy Field features three field recording pieces recorded on (and in) the Barents Sea, in Greenland, and in her native Norway. Most of the material was recorded in the water, but some was also captured with omni mikes, on the open sea and inside glacier crevasses. Unlike a Chris Watson who simply edits his field recordings to time-compress them and make them more eventful, Winderen plays with microphone selection, editing techniques, and overlaying techniques with a composer's ear, not a documentalist's ear. All three pieces offer unique sound worlds dominated by water, of course, but also full of low rumbles, high-pitched squeaks, eerie tones, and sudden splashes. It's a symphony of stillness and movement, and unless you're a marine biologist, it will leave you constantly wondering. Was this a creaking door, a dolphin's cry, or the inner tugs of ice? Was that a whale's song or a wolf howling on land but captured underwater? "Aquaculture" (18 minutes) plays on land sounds (crows, voices) and underwater sounds, blurring the distinction between the two. "Isolation/Measurement" (12 minutes) focuses on odd animal sounds set up in an alien soundscape. "Sense of Latent Power" (20 minutes, and the perfect title) rumbles like crazy with sounds that could be the boat's motor or come from a much deeper location, plus foggy metallic drones that are both peaceful and disquieting -- a song of peace from an unknown lifeform. The latter track leaves the field recording territory to squarely enter the realm of abstract electro-acoustic music, and does so brilliantly. Highly recommended.

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