Pete Willsher

Strange Bedfellows

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AllMusic Review by

Strange Bedfellows grew out of a mutual desire on the part of its composers to translate the sounds of the earth into music. Like Bernie Krause's Gorillas in the Mix, this album uses no musical instruments whatsoever, but through the use of digital sampling, employs various combinations of animal and nature sounds to shape chords, melodies and rhythms into a variety of musical moods. From the lighthearted "Farmyard Fooling," awith its grunting pig bass and quacking duck and goose rhythm section, to the bouncy pop tune "Dolphinesse," made up entirely of whale and dolphin voices, from the hilarious feline and canine orchestra on "Raining Cats and Dogs" to the poignant rendition of the traditional "Band of Armagh," featuring stags and a peregrine falcon, Willsher and Lumley skillfully mix technological sophistication with humor and a reverence for the planet and its creatures. Massed mosquitoes are used to simulate the sound of strings, while "tuned wind" provides church organ or synth chords. Unprocessed sounds are also thrown into the mix, most effectively on the three-part "Dartmoor Suite," a haunting tone poem that marvelously evokes the austere beauty of the windswept moors. Whereas much electronic music seeks to mimic acoustic sounds, on Strange Bedfellows the voices of the natural world are used in part to mimic electronically processed music -- particularly in the bird and insect percussion parts. Full of wit and invention, Strange Bedfellows is a charming and very successful attempt to give musical shape to the varied voices of the planet.