By the sounds of Richard Fair’s “Birdy Birdy,” the temporary autonomous zone has gone to seed. The birds have taken over the biodome, the dusty, moldering place long vacated by humans. The air is thick with the birds, and the cold surface echoes their songs with mechanical affect. Simple, cheerful tunes are quickly transmuted into something threatening, something hard. The birdsong itself is beginning to show evidence of an environmental feedback cycle, the birds’ own tune becoming slower, drowsier, more defensive, more feral. (Fair is aware of such a transaction, having written in a brief post: “I do wonder if the birds outside are reacting to what I’m doing in.”)
“Birdy Birdy” is not a real field recording, in the sense that it is not a pristine document, not by any means. What it is is the result of a field recording, a fairly blissfully mundane one, turned electronically into something quite other. The source audio was posted by Fair, who goes by Audiodays, of Norwich, England, as “Norwich Birdsong 17 May 2015.” It is bird song heard in the urban wild, complete with motorcycles and other evidence of 21st-century life. “Birdy Birdy” was posted shortly thereafter, the diary turned into a fiction.
This is the after:
This is the before: