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Sawako, "Brand New Fossil"

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cover imageOn this beautifully presented little 7", Japanese artist Sawako Kato uses a variety of found sounds to create an audio representation of what are or will become fossils, either literally or conceptually.  With one side sourced from handmade crystal radio recordings and the other being field recordings of a then-abandoned amusement park, the sense of emptiness and decay is clear among the subtle sounds presented.

Winds Measure Recordings

The A side of the record consists of random radio recordings around Brooklyn, New York, that (I assume) Sawako carefully processed and edited to create a somber, yet relaxing composition.  Quiet, but dense walls of voice fragments and pieces of conversation appear over long, spreading passages of somber melody in "Radio Stone," all the while relaxing bits of static can be heard.  There is a certain nostalgia in hearing that static that anyone who owned a small, cheap portable AM or FM radio will surely feel, a sound that is alien to anyone who has only experienced MP3s or internet radio stations.  The short "Dot" that follows is mostly made up of silence, with the occasional blip of voice or interference appearing.

On the flip side, "Season Off" is untreated field recordings from the Astroland amusement park in Coney Island, which was, at this time, closed to the public.  Distant car horns can be heard, but the creaking doors and metal scraping that appears is quite jarring and somewhat painful to hear, especially when paired with the long passages of emptiness.  The second piece "Astro Land" sounds exactly as expected from a field recording in an abandoned park.  The only real sound to be heard is the howling wind, affected by the still, lifeless rides that were just sitting there to decay.

While I found the processed melodies of "Radio Stone" to be quite beautiful, I thought the Astroland recordings on the B side were the most fascinating.  They are the epitome of what field recordings should be:  they do more than just capture the ambient sounds, but also present a mood and image of the location and its context.  While this amusement park and traditional radio may be in the process of fossilization, this document is a compelling one that ensures neither will be forgotten.

Last Updated on Sunday, 19 December 2010 21:27  


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