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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Tom Lawrence’s Irish Forest Field Recordings

The latest podcast from the Touch label is a brilliantly detailed documentary recording by Tom Lawrence, who’s in the Humanities and Social Sciences department at Dublin City University. Titled “Donadea Forest,” after the Irish location where the sounds were recorded, it captures, in a languorous half hour, bird calls, breezes, and the rain amid the trees.

One especially appealing segment introduces more traditional musical elements into what is otherwise a collection of field recordings. This is accomplished by working in chimes at play in the forest. Also complicating that portion of the overall piece is the presence of traffic noise — it’s a smart moment, as humankind makes its presence heard simultaneously as tone and noise, as organized musical sound and unintended aural presence.

To assist in the listening process, Lawrence has helpfully provided a time-code guide to the work’s five constituent parts:

00:00-04:27 Castle Crow’s Cacophony (31st December 2007, 7.20am)
04:28-10:23 January Gales 9th January 2008 10.45pm (contains references to 9/11 forest monument and the avenue of trees, captured with contact mics)
10:24-14:48 Forest Rain 12th January 2008 1.15am (extensive flooding)
14:49-20:36 Forest Harmonics 8th March 2008 6.20-11.50am (sampled forest chimes, forestry felling, and the ‘carbon chorus’ [surrounding motorways]).
20:37-30:47 The Dawn Chorus (recorded on National Dawn Chorus Day 20th May 2008, 4.35am)
The set of recordings was made between December 2007 and May 2008, and was just released on Touch’s Touch Radio series. The entire piece is available for download: M4A. More information at touchradio.org.uk. And more on Lawrence at his website, tom-lawrence.net.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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