Monday, 3 March 2014

La Selva

 'The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don't think they - they sing. They just screech in pain. It's an unfinished country.' - Werner Herzog

One of the most interesting reissues of the year so far that has unfairly slipped under the radar a bit is Francisco Lopez's classic La Selva. Originally released in 1997, La Selva is just over an hour of field recordings of a tropical rain forest in the Caribbean. The always on point imprint Sub Rosa have specialized in early electronics and experimental sound pieces so it makes complete sense for them to reissue La Selva. It's an astonishing work made completely out of the sounds of nature and a masterclass of sound recording and composition. Field recordings at best not only record sonically the sounds of the original location, but capture the very essence of what it's like to be there. There's a reason that nature documentaries record the sounds separately to the footage and artificially place them over the final film. Through using microphones that give audiophiles shameful wet dreams, Lopez recreates an immersive, humid and dangerous environment for you to completely lose yourself in. It deserves an intense, concentrated listen to fully grasp what Lopez achieved with this release. There are moments in the album where the sounds seem to ascend from their original source material into a pure musical piece. Crickets, insects, monkey calls and bird song make it sound at points like a snippet from a Ligeti or Penderecki work,. At other points the extreme sound of torrential rain verges nearly into pure noise in the Keven Drumm sense. This is not a relaxing meditation tape for you to contemplate the ramifications of the zero point or find yourself in the dregs of a vanilla and chi tea. It's a dark, twisted journey through the very bowls of the rainforest, that while at times can allude an illusion of peace and harmony, is mainly claustrophobia and humid darkness. For anyone interested in the possibilities of field recordings or wants something a bit off the radar to give your time to, this is one that you shouldn't miss.

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