U17 | David Vélez – Simon Whetham | Yoi
1. Caudal : excerpt
2. In many ways, trapped : excerpt
format : CD ltd to 200 hand numbered copies
all copies come with an additional art card on 300gr satin paper
release year : 2013
length : 59’02
1. Caudal DAVID VÉLEZ
2. In many ways, trapped SIMON WHETHAM
status : still available
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(Belgium) : 13 € (inc.postage)
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: info :
In April 2011 David Vélez invited Simon Whetham to Bogota to run a field recording workshop at the Nacional University as part of the Masters in Fine Arts that Vélez was taking.
They also planned to work together outside the workshop, a major part of this exchange being to visit the Colombian Amazonas – to record, explore and collaborate – capturing sounds and sharing experiences.
During the trip, they were removed from their comfort zone and endured the rigors of the jungle in different situations, such as becoming lost in the first night and wandering around until they found their way back to their base. Also, two days before they returned, they traveled for many hours along the river itself, in the darkest night, on a tiny raft, in an experience that can only be described as sublime and unfathomable.
All these situations created a strong bond between the artists that was articulated in a concert as part of the MA; and now on this release, that has required several revisits because the artists’ impressions of the trip, the locations, the memories, the emotions have continued to evolve following the original experience.
(David Vélez – Simon Whetham, July 2013)
: reviews :
En avril 2011 David Velez invite Simon Whetham à animer un workshop de field recording en Colombie, c’est le début d’un voyage. S’en suit une excursion dans la forêt amazonienne, les deux artistes enregistrent leur égarement, la nuit profonde et ô combien inhospitalière. Ce disque nous rappelle que l’extrême limite, le point de syncope est toujours le plus important. On repense bien sûr à Geir Jenssen escaladant le mont Cho Oyu au Tibet, son manque de souffle enregistré sur minidisc en approchant du sommet. Le parallèle se fait ici, sur un point de presque disparition, l’enregistrement devient un possible témoignage de sa propre perte, prise de conscience de sa fragilité.
Chaque artiste relate ici à sa façon de cet état de perte, David Velez entasse, stratifie, la faune est convoquée, les insectes bourdonnent au plus près des microphones, les éléments s’en mêlent, une pluie torrentielle vient ajouter de la difficulté à s’en sortir.
Simon Whetham est plutôt dans une approche de coupes franches, des cris font écho lointain, mais sont vite filtrés, retraités, comme pour mettre un voile devant la crudité de la scène, le lit d’une rivière est exploré avec, on suppose, des micros hydrophones, métaphore moderne du pêcheur à la traine, laissant dériver sa ligne, réécoutant après-coup ce que ses récepteurs auront entendu.
Les deux pièces, assez différentes dans leur traitement quand bien même elles ont un matériau de base recueilli dans une unité de temps et de lieu témoignent ici de la singularité de cette expérience, elles deviennent complémentaires sur l’album, solidaires comme ont certainement dû l’être les deux artistes pour ne pas définitivement s’égarer au coeur de la jungle.
Aujourd’hui il fait tempête, c’est bientôt le jour des morts. C’est une période propice au recueillement, on pense à tous ceux qui sont partis.
Puis il y a ce disque, une trace sonore de ce qui aurait pu être un drame, on l’écoute intensément, on y reviendra souvent.
April 2011: David Velez invites Simon Whetham to host a field recording workshop in Colombia, the start of a trip. Follows a hike in the amazonian forest, both artists records their wandering, in a deep and how inhospitable night. This disc reminds us that the extreme limit,the point of syncope, is by far the most important. One recalls Geir Jenssen climbing Mount Cho Oyu in Tibet, recording his breathlessness on minidisc while reaching the summit. There is a parallel to make, about a state of near disappearance, the recording becoming a possible witness of our own loss, as a crucial consciousness of our own fragility.
Each artist narrates in it’s own style this state of loss, David Velez piles, stratifies, convening fauna, insects buzzing as inside microphones, the elements playing a part, a cloudburst adding some difficulty to achieve.
Simon Whetham rather lays in a mood of drastic cuts, yells are remote echoes, though quickly filtered, reshaped, as to draw a veil over the crudeness of the scene, a riverbed is explored with, one imagines, hydrophones, modern metaphor of the angler with it’s drifting fishing line, listening again afterwards what his receptor’s ears caught.
The two pieces, quite different in their approach although sharing a common base material gathered in a time and space unit, witness the singularity of this experience, they are complementary on the disc, tightly bound as must have been the two artists to avoid getting totally lost in this deep jungle.
Today, there is a storm, soon comes All Souls ‘Day. This is an appropriate time for reverence, one remembers those gone now. And there is this disc, a sound trace of what could have been a tragedy, one listens intensely to it, often coming back to it.
Two field recording artists get lost in the Amazon jungle. This may sound like the setup to a joke (and such artists likely have their own brand of humor), but in this case, it was the starting point for an album. David Vélez and Simon Whetham took this experience as the inspiration for a concert, a series of subsequent visits, and now an aural record.
While it is not entirely accurate, the image is hard to escape. When one listens to Yoi, one thinks of the pair crashing through bush, trying to find the trail, slapping away bugs, flinching at unidentified sounds and sights (“David, is that one of the friendly monkeys? Why is it looking at us like that?”) and masking nervousness with humor. The teeming jungle rushes in with cacophonous crickets and annoying mosquitoes, cracking branches (uh-oh) and unidentified avian voices. When one first hears the sound of a stream, one remembers the old adage, follow the water to safety. Vélez and Whetham later turned this idea on its head, enjoying a night-time journey down a nearby Bogota river, recording the sounds and wondering at their origins.
Yoi is an invitation to get lost, which seems counter-intuitive until one reflects on the countless ways in which such experiences have themselves been lost. Thanks to GPS, Mapquest, cell phones and other modern innovations, few people in the modern world have had a recent experience of being completely lost and as a result, perhaps even in danger. While this doesn’t sound like an attractive experience, it does teach humility, and often opens a world of grace: there but for the grace of God go I. Modern travelers tend to want to go from Point A to Point B by the shortest, fastest, most efficient route, ignoring the pleasures of taking the road less traveled just to see where it will go. Such an experience is amplified in a place such as the Amazon jungle, which promises untamed fauna and torrents of rain. When listening to the downpour on Vélez’ “Caudal”, one may think, “I am really glad I was not caught in that”, or one may think, “what an amazing experience, I wish I had been there”. Yet one needs not travel to the Amazon to discover uncharted territory; opportunities may beckon in one’s own region.
The title of Whetham’s “In many ways, trapped” amplifies this point while implying the opposite. Traps are often of our own making. A comfortable box (apartment, cubicle, attitude) can be seen as liberating, but can also be restrictive. Whetham’s copious travels may have caused him to look back on his former life with a reassessing eye. While his piece includes many of the same characters, he seems to have hit the jackpot with some of the birds, including one whose cry sounds like a droplet in a puddle (5:40+), captured through the art of stillness. When a frog begins to chirrup, one begins to wonder at its coloring and toxicity; if it’s a poison dart frog, has Whetham been warned? And when static enters in the sixteenth minute, one begins to question perception v. reality.
It’s fascinating to hear the differences between the two pieces on this disc, as they suggest the fact that the two artists hear and interpret in different ways. This shouldn’t be a surprise, and yet it is. When the disc is played in full, one realizes that one is hearing two sides of one narrative. Two field recording artists got lost in the Amazon jungle, and both returned to tell the story.
This release is the first split release, I think, on Unfathomless, but both artists were on the same field trip in Columbia. David Velez was doing his masters in Fine Arts in April 2011 and invited Simon Whetham for a workshop. This workshop took them to Colombian Amazonas – ‘to record, explore and collaborate – and they got lost for a while and did a nightly trip on a raft. It’s not something we can easily relate too, I guess, when we are just listening to the music, but if anything, this sure has an Amazonian quality to it. It’s not a place I have been too – and maybe disqualifies me as a reviewer? – but if I would asked to describe what the rainforest sounds like, I would certainly describe something that is captured here in the pieces by Velez and Whetham. Velez has a twenty-four minute piece, while Whetham‘s is ten minutes longer and I am not sure if they are both based on the same set of recordings, or just on sounds captured as a whole during this trip. It doesn’t matter I guess. The piece by Velez is more or less an ongoing affair of a multitude of sound layers, all, I think, derived from animals. It’s quite loud and fierce this piece, maybe not too dissimilar from life in the jungle. Whetham takes on a more subtle approach and uses the collage technique to mark out differences in the material, and also seems to be more interested in slightly altering the color of the sound, i.e. there is occasionally a bit more bass end here. It ends, or so it seems, on a long fade, getting darker and darker. Maybe this is the piece that reflects that nightly raft trip? Oddly enough, it indeed has a strange claustrophobic feel. Odd, as this is the jungle, we’re speaking about. Very nice release !
Frans de Waard