Indian Soundscapes

Indian Soundscapes

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In strictly musical terms, this elaborately packaged two-disc set is little more than a curiosity. It consists of field recordings of ambient sounds made in urban and rural settings in India. The person who recorded the sounds identifies him- or herself in the liner notes only as Iyou, and explains that he (for the sake of simplicity) tried to avoid the sounds of engines, cell phones and deliberate musical performances, opting instead for the sounds of bicycle bells, insects, salesmen hawking their wares, children laughing and playing, people washing their clothes in a river, etc. Some of these tracks end up being musical in a more or less accidental way: one track is a recording of the national anthem; another documents the sounds of people conversing while an old man sings quietly in the background; others consist of people talking, shouting or arguing in melodic, singsong voices. Every once in a while the sounds are actually revolting -- the track titled "A Violent Ritual" seems to be the sound of someone coughing and spitting over and over in a public restroom. Presented in a handmade box with a liner booklet filled with wonderful color photos, Indian Soundscapes is a fascinating sonic document.