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Jana Winderen, "Heated: Live in Japan"/"Surface Runoff"

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These two releases by the Norwegian artist are her first releases despite a long career focussed on sound installations (although she has released work on compilations and worked with Chris Watson and Sigur Rós on field recordings for their Heima movie). A short live CD and a 7” single, they are not exactly meaty but the material included is strong despite the brevity of most of the tracks. The recordings are crystal clear and manipulated beautifully; the two discs are truly remarkable.



The two pieces on Heated: Live in Japan are named after their respective performers. The opening piece is a short spoken word piece by Japanese improv musician Tetsuro Yasunaga. Not speaking Japanese, this could be either poetry or simply the artist telling someone that they have parked in the wrong place and were blocking the delivery entrance to the venue. The main piece, “Jana Winderen” sees Winderen create a stunning composition from field recordings made in Greenland, Iceland and Norway. Unlike a lot of similar artists (recording in the same general geographic areas), the sounds Winderen has captured are busy and exciting: stones being rubbed together, unusual water noises and many unidentifiable but deeply textured sounds. She puts them all together in a way that is a delight to the ears and as a result Heated ends up being a fantastic disc. The only problem with it is that the total run time is only just over 25 minutes, I would be happy for it to last much, much longer.


Surface Runoff is a less powerful but equally interesting experience. The two pieces are very similar to the work of the aforementioned Chris Watson (as in it sounds like nature, not that she is aping Watson). “Drift” is the sound of many rivers combined into a gushing torrent (that sounds strangely like the sea). On the other side is “Mae Taeng” is a extraordinary recording of aquatic wildlife in Thailand. The shrimp in particular are worth the price of this 7” alone, the crackling sound of their claws fills the room in the way that only the likes of Merzbow can usually achieve (accordingly, swarms of shrimp make the loudest sound in the ocean, managing 246dB!).

From these two releases it is clear that Winderen is not only skilled at creating good music out of natural sources but that her ability to capture these amazing sounds is stellar. Field recordings are an area I adore and I will eat up even the roughest recording of an interesting phenomenon; when I get to hear such vivid recordings I must say I am mightily impressed. With any luck, she will not be long bringing out some more substantial releases.

Last Updated on Sunday, 15 February 2009 11:24  


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