|(2020) VA - Field Works-Ultrasonic|
As part of his ongoing Field Works project, multidisciplinary artist Stuart Hyatt makes field recordings of specific places and subjects, then collaborates with several musicians in order to make music out of the audio, with the goal of telling evocative stories and raising awareness about these subjects. In addition to producing books, exhibitions, and site-specific performances, the project has released several albums, and the cast of contributors reads like a who’s-who of contemporary experimental and ambient music: Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Dan Deacon, Matmos, and William Tyler are but a few of the dozens involved. In 2018, Temporary Residence released the first seven Field Works albums as a limited vinyl box set, packaged with a hardcover book. Ultrasonic is the project’s eighth album, and the focus is on the federally endangered species of bats in Indiana. All of the compositions are based on the echolocations of bats, incorporating the winged mammals’ chirping, fluttering, and clicking sounds into abstract textures and pretty, plaintive melodies. The source material ends up being a gold mine for the producers and musicians, who twist the sounds of wings flapping into crunchy rhythms and make extensive usage out of the natural cave echo. Eluvium’s “Dusk Tempi” douses rhapsodic, heart-rending strings with some very strange bubbling, vibrating effects. On “Silver Secrets,” Mary Lattimore builds a rhythm out of a sequence of sampled bat calls, then adds her graceful harp playing, and as the rhythm comes close to dissolving, the bats fly all around her. Even though bats are commonly associate with vampires, witchcraft, Halloween, and all things macabre, very few of the pieces seem overtly dark or haunting. Noveller’s “A Place Both Wonderful and Strange” starts out ominous and brassy before ending up calmer and more ethereal, and Ben Lukas Boysen’s foggy dark ambient piece “Torpor” is as glum as the album gets. Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s “Night Swimming” is more of a tranquil new age drift, and “Indiana Blindfold” by JAB (John Also Bennett of Forma) is like a ray of starshine slowly shimmering downwards. Ending with a poignant spoken word piece bidding goodbye to the bats and their habitat, Ultrasonic is a compelling release which creatively expresses sincere appreciation for these fascinating creatures.
Genre: ambient, electronic
Format/Info: Free Lossless Audio Codec, 16-bit PCM
Bit rate mode: Variable
Channel(s): 2 channels
Sampling rate: 44.1 KHz
Bit depth: 16 bits