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Listen to the Landscape

Liner notes I wrote for an album from experimental kite videos by Michel Banabila and Gerco de Ruijter

The experimental musician Michel Banabila worked with innovative kite filmmaker Gerco de Ruijter on collaborations in which Banabila composed scores for De Ruijter’s all-encompassing landscape videos. The pair asked me to write liner notes for the album release of Banabilia’s music, Stop Motion. The above video, an example of their work, premiered at ambientblog.net.

These are my liner notes:

“Listen to the Landscape”

The landscape does not stand in opposition to the abstract. The landscape is itself a form of abstraction. The landscape presents geometries and colors and textures. The landscape, as seen in Gerco de Ruijter’s kite footage, encompasses us. We can touch the land but the landscape is beyond our touch. We are alienated from the landscape because its scale is beyond our comprehension. The lens of De Ruijter’s camera must warp the landscape, must warp reality, in order to bend it to our attempts at comprehension. Our eyes scan the landscape, requiring memory to do much of their work, the work of imagining the whole. Our memories are patchwork semblances of the patchwork landscape.

Our ears, however, take in more than what is ahead of us. Our ears survey the landscape front, back, and side, above and below. Our ears know that the seeming correlations between sound and image are cursory, especially from such a distance. Our ears know that some of the sounds that Michel Banabila has mated to De Ruijter’s images are real in the sense that they were captured in the place. Our ears know that other of Banabila’s sounds are real in that they express the musician’s sense of that place. Our ears don’t care one way or the other.

There is a music to the moving image, even when there is no sound. There are patterns and rhythms. There are movements. There is development.

And when there is sound, when De Ruijter’s eye has met Banabila’s ear, the moving image becomes something else — not a recapitulation of the landscape, but something new, something comprehensive, something to be explored, something that rewards exploration.

Get the album at banabila.bandcamp.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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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