U10 | David Velez | Sonido Descompuesto
format : CD ltd to 200 hand numbered copies
release year : 2012
length : 49’47
status : still available
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: info :
“On January of 2011 I visited “Las Margaritas” a farm where my aunt and uncle have a country house, crops and some cattle too. The land is located between the towns of Briceño and Zipaquira and for a few days I stayed there and dedicated mostly to capture sounds.
The diversity of objects and landscapes there was incredible rich: the river Neusa passes near by so there is water running everywhere acquiring different sonorities through different points. They were also farmers playing acoustic guitar and old vinyls being played in the house. The different agricultural activities, the animals, the chimney’s combustion, the bugs, the old tractors, the construction work around the farm, the many wind mobiles, they all had beautiful sonorities. There is also a forest close to the farm filled with what seemed like phosphorescent moss: the space is obscured by the many trees but a “green” light comes off the floor: the place was particularly silent and quiet sounding. Overall I just had incredible sounds everywhere and plenty of time to record them.
With the sounds captured I first worked on a an improvisational piece (#0) that later would be edited (#1). Then I composed a series of short fragments (a, b, c, d). #1 was then put together with a, b, c, d on a second edit (#2). The second edit was then split into small fragments (#2/8) and rearranged intuitively (#3).
#3 is “Sonido descompuesto” (Decomposed sound).”(David Velez)
: reviews :
David Velez: location recordings, composition
I don’t recall having heard Velez’s music before this, a CD that was spinning on and off in my player last autumn, then remained disregarded for a while and now has finally been retrieved for an unequivocal appraisal. Not surprisingly, when looking at the composer’s website, a past collaboration with Christopher McFall was noticed; this doesn’t mean that Sonido Descompuesto sounds like one of the American’s records, however akin principles linking the two artists seem to exist, in spite of a different conceptualization of the respective field recordings. In this particular case, the audible phenomena derive entirely from a Colombian farm and include a little bit of everything that might be expected in a rural environment (though we’re occasionally forced to some kind of guessing game to understand if something is really “that” something). Without enumerating substances, living souls and objects – they’re all there to be acknowledged – let’s just say that the compositional attributes and the processing job are up to the indispensable standards for placing the disc in the “pleasurable” area of our aesthetic apparatus. An unspecific awareness of protective comfort, the healthy propensity to avert ludicrously mystic assertions, and the slight veil of instability attributed to selected chunks of material during the post-production stage contribute to deserved warm feelings towards the work.
David is a welcome return visitor to these pages especially as this, his contribution to the Unfathomless discography, is amongst the best things I’ve heard from him.
For Unfathomless, contributors are required to produce a piece that speaks of a place dear to them based on recordings sourced there. For Velez that place is a farm called ‘Las Margaritas’ in Columbia.
Over the course of it’s 49 minutes the piece explores the various aural textures of the environment – machinery, (what sounds like) a busy road, water, etc – filtered through some heavy processing.
In essence it’s a heavy and darkly opaque set of textures of post-industrial ambience. Truthfully it isn’t anything new to the genre but it is very nicely assembled and holds your attention throughout.
Wonderful Wooden Reasons
While the Mystery Sea label is about water, offshoot Unfathomless is about place. And while David Velez‘ recordings have also concentrated on water, Sonido Descompuesto (Decomposed Sound) takes place on Las Margaritas, his aunt and uncle’s Columbian farm. So while the recording begins with familiar sonic images – the lapping of the River Neusa and a gentle rain – it quickly branches out into a braver experience. It only takes three minutes for the first “Woah, what was that?” noise to appear, and when it does, the mind suddenly lurches from restful to vigilant.
At this point, the clarity of the recording also begins to emerge, with the sounds of drainage and dragged metal: a combination of the earthly and the human that imitates the colliding forces found on a farm. Construction continues while birds twitter; tractors plow amid the mud. While one would normally think, “a family farm, how quaint! Cows in the barn, pies cooling in the windowsill”, this recording reminds us that owning and operating a farm is hard work. One barely finishes the chores when dusk falls, and then it’s time to start over; little time to enjoy the “forest of phosphorescent moss” nearby. But as Velez is a visitor, he’s free to wander, recording insects, chimneys, and wind mobiles, like a Don Quixote whose dreams actually succeed .
Although the disc is presented as a single piece, different tracks can be discerned within. The first is the longest and strongest, blending the richness of nature with a surprisingly non-intrusive array of industrial noises. While this section may be a field recording, it sounds at times like experimental music. A fade at exactly 18:30 leads to a new section, which introduces a dark drone along with unidentifiable crackles and whirls. Low notes are offset by higher-pitched percussive frequencies, which clack like cards caught in spokes. After six more minutes have passed, a dual deluge of motor and monsoon presents the album with its most thrilling section; crickets and hammers provide sullen accompaniment. Unfortunately, these sounds fade after only two minutes, giving way to footsteps and a quiet river. When they return a bit later, they sound slightly unnatural, as one becomes keenly aware of the artist’s hand on the volume knob. As this happens nowhere else, it’s swiftly forgotten.
Section Three begins at 30:52 with brasslike timbres and some oddly unruffled birds. The transitions here are smoother; insect buzzes fade in and out, but that’s what insects do. Sometimes it’s a hive, other times a horde. A bit of actual music is buried in the 34th minute, but quickly retreats, only to return again as a drone a few minutes later. Sections repeat, chorus-like, while their surroundings mutate. The closing minutes revisit earlier themes: rain, dragged metal, and in the 43rd minute, that music, vanishing like a phantasm, leaving questions in its wake. Were secrets buried in the silo? Do generations wander like ghosts? Can benign memories sometimes turn to menace? As alluring as the general idea of a farm may be, decomposed sound is much more accurate. These scavenged sounds operate as deteriorating fragments clutching their last threads of existence.
A Closer Listen
“Sonido Descompuesto” (Decomposed sound) is a sound collage made of fragments recorded in the surroundings of the farm “Las Margaritas” located between the towns of Briceño and Zipaquira.
When talking about sound collages it is somewhat immediate to think about Music Concrète and its distinctive traits: shapeless structures, rapid changes of focus, evident contrasts between the different passages, juxtapositions of heterogeneous audio materials and so forth, but sound collages can also be very different, they can be descriptive, coherent, they can share with Music Concrète some technical aspects but from an aesthetic point of view they can be quite different.
David Velez is a field recordist with a keen interest for sounds regarded as elements that characterize the environment and which absorb and retain the “information” of the locations. In his remarkable discography he has explored different kinds of approaches, ranging from pure phonographic recordings to works in which field recordings are just one of the numerous ingredients of the whole soundscape.
One of the things that fascinates me the most in David’s works is his ability of giving always his distinctive interpretation of the sounds he decides to record.
I take this opportunity to discuss briefly about what makes the listening of field recordings interesting. We could think that the beauty of natural sounds is just their essence, their organic characteristics and therefore, following this particular perspective, the listening of field recordings (being a “mere” reproduction of natural sonic phenomena) should be appreciated just for the high quality characteristics of the recordings (i.e. no distortions, no digital artifacts).
Obviously such kind of interest will rapidly shift the focus toward technical aspects: the technical specification of the audio gears and the characteristics of the microphones will be undoubtedly the most covered topics in the “evaluation” process of the quality of the soundwork.
But technical specifications cannot be the one and only aspect to consider. When the recordings start to be edited, the audio gear used to collect the sounds suddenly lose importance and the talent and the ability of the “artist / sound catcher” will powerfully come out.
And this is the case of “Sonido Descompuesto”. The sounds have been cut, mixed, blended, arranged and juxtaposed forming a sonic scenario that summarizes the original listening experience in the form of a complex audio collage. There are no special digital effects here. Just a clever use of the “cut and paste technique” that recreates a kind of natural soundtrack with long shots, medium shots and a whole slew of close ups that describe the sounds in all of their particularities.
David Velez is the director of this compelling “aural movie” and this release is probably the highest peak of his field recordings career up to now.
The Field Reporter
More music from David Velez, who was already responsible for the first double CD on the mothership label Mystery Sea – see Vital Weekly 781 for that. This might be his first real CD – I am not sure. For this new work he visited the farm ‘Las Margaritas’, where his aunt and uncle have a farm house and recorded sounds around the farm for a few days. There is a small river floating nearby, insects, old tractors, work on the land, wind mobiles, the chimney and such like. Some of these sounds and textures reminded me of the old farm I used to visit when on holiday as a kid in Austria – in general, the slowness of life, as opposed to the hectic of bigger cities. Velez put these sounds together in a collage form that lasts some fifty minutes, of slowly moving sounds from these many field recordings. Its hard to say wether these field recordings are in any form processed, but somehow I don’t think so. Its more a straight forward collage from life on the farm. For me this invokes the feeling of holiday in my youth on that farm, and I would immediately leave home and go there and spend two weeks on that quiet farm in Austria. That is perhaps the best quality of a release like this. One remembers something, based on what one hears – memories of childhood and such like. Although perhaps as such nothing much new seems to be happening in that specific world of field recordings, Velez crafted one of the better works I heard from him.
Frans de Waard