Post—Cabaret Voltaire Field Recording MP3

At the website of Chris Watson — a founder of the experimental pop band Cabaret Voltaire — there are several free downloads culled from now out-of-print samplers from the Touch record label. One is titled “Out of Our Sight.” Watson’s brief description, pulled verbatim from the original sampler, reads: “Motionless anticipation, along the dry sandy banks of the Zambesi a Mozambique nightjar is sucking in all the remaining light.”

Aside from choosing the location, turning on the microphone, selecting start and end points to the recording, and deciding that the resulting audio document (MP3) was of sufficient quality to present to the public, all Watson did is assign a title and a subsequent descriptive line — but, of course, each of those decisions is no haphazard thing. And the resulting track, so full of life to be alarming, and certainly far more vibrant that the phrase “motionless anticipation” might suggest, is breathtaking in its detail — the voyeuristic sense of proximity it conveys.

A raw field recording is the among the purest forms of electronic music — sound mediated solely by technological and aesthetic decisions. And Watson is a master.

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