From the Artic to the Rainforests of Borneo, Music Can Take You Around the World
Immersing deeply in the Landscape Series of albums – and they really do reward proper immersion – has left a lot of thoughts about music and the environment spiralling around.
As we observed in writing about those releases, music and soundmaking can interact with or describe the landscape in a myriad of different ways.
Direct field recordings, imitation, abstraction, sonification of scientific data, poetic description, expression of nostalgia for particular vistas and other emotions associated with place…
Even just the starting assumption that you’re hearing something that’s “about” landscape encourages certain modes of listening, thinking, visualisation as the music plays.
That led to comparing and contrasting how these things intersect, which led in turn to a lot more deep listening.
Pulling together jazz and classical, new age and noise, ancient and modern tracks, the experience ceased to be analytical and started to become dreamlike: a kaleidoscope of real and fantastical sonic “places” merging into whole new worlds.
Eventually all of that coalesced into this playlist.
True to the experience of putting it together, any rigorous conceptualism has gone out of the window, and it’s far more about the endlessly evocative experience of letting extraordinary sound wash over you.
It starts with the gentle, subtropical jazz exotica of Gil Evans and the 1980s Japanese “environmental music” of Hiroshi Yoshimura, and doesn’t stop traversing the continents.
James Skelton’s misty composition and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s warm hearted electronica take us to the English/Scottish border and the forests of the Pacific Northwest USA respectively.
There’s evocation of the Arctic from, among others, the Alaska inspired composer John Luther Adams and the Norwegian ambient dub specialist Geir Jennsen, a lifelong resident of Tromse, 220 miles north of the Artic Circle.
Electronic exoticist Wu Cloud, meanwhile, was recorded in the rainforests of Borneo, and meshes his psychedelic instrumentation with the wildlife sounds of the jungle.
There are industrial cityscapes and ancient Egyptian ruins, there are wide open seas and desert canyons, there are familiar film themes, abstract drones and electro pulses.
There are people situated within landscapes: drums and singing in the Congolese forest that map out the dimensionality of the space, and the eerie “yoik” chanting of Sami reindeer herders designed to be heard across miles of tundra.
And it all ends as sweetly as it began, with Edvard Grieg’s conjuration of dawn breaking over acacias and palms in the Moroccan desert.
How you listen is, of course, up to you, but it’s designed to be taken in in one go – and we suggest you get it good and loud to let the big sweep and fine detail wash over you.
Don’t worry about what you’re listening to, just let that dreamlike sense of an improbable journey between places and perceptions take over. And maybe start thinking about what musical trip you’ll take next.
Cover Credit: Traworld Official/Unsplash
Writer | Joe Muggs
Joe Muggs is a writer, DJ and curator of many years standing, covering both mainstream and underground. His book 'Bass, Mids, Tops', covering decades of UK bass music, is out now via Strange Attractor / MIT Press, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at tinyletter.com/joemuggs.