The insular regions of the title are, one could argue, both the Mooste area in Estonia and John Grzinich's rather isolationist, self-developing sound world. Grzinich recorded the sound materials for this album in Mooste, a small rural Estonian community, between August 2003 and October 2004. From the sound of cracking ice to the resonances of old oil tanks, the composer turned his microphone toward anything making a sound, but aiming it mostly at sonics that evoked wide spaces (outdoors and indoors) and abandoned vestiges of the village's past. From these materials, he has composed two long works that take the listener on an aural journey without words. Grzinich's music flows naturally, with uncanny easiness. Whereas other artists document sound events or take pictures of environments, he reinvents his recordings by organizing them in narratives that remain abstract yet sound so clear, so obvious. There are a lot of field recordists who have a good ear for what they do -- and whose works are interesting because they offer listeners strange juxtapositions -- but Grzinich's art (like Michael Northam's or Murmer's) transcends its sources to create poetic, engulfing music that is inhabited by a certain romantic conception of the North. The 44-minute-long "..Second Portal" deserves a place among the key works in this field, because of its slow yet sustained pace, its detailed textures, and its mesmerizing leitmotifs. Highly recommended to sound art enthusiasts.
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AllMusic Review by François Couture