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CD Feature/ V.A.: "Favourite Places"

img  Tobias

The question an artist fears more than any other is: What inspires you? This is not to say that the issue were unimportant or even trivial. Quite on the contrary: The reason is that he mostly doesn’t know the answer himself. “Favourite Places” now tries to shed some light on one of the greatest wonders the world has on offer.


For this collection, Audiobulb have invited ten artists to contribute a track representing a space of relevance to them. The geographical distances covered by the sampler weave a net of finely humming tunes, which runs from one side of the Atlantic to the other and all the way to Japan: Taylor Deupree recorded insects buzzing in the early morning air at the back of his house, Dot Tape Dot’s Dani soaped himself in for a jump into his beloved bathtub, while Ryan Francesconi paid a personal homage to the “peaceful forested place not far from the centre of Kyoto” that is the Shimogamo Shrine.


Around every corner, there is wonder, underneath every stone a story. Just as eclectic as its roster of composers is the motivation that lies at the basis of their contributions. To Biosphere, “Tranoy Fir” brings back memories both of a beautiful summer night and of suddenly being attacked by a swarm of birds, John Kannenberg dotes on the fascination he holds for the acoustics of musea (including what they do to the sounds of one’s own body), while Nate Zabriskie of Nomad Palace has selected a completely unspectacular, but all the more intimate spot: His family’s lakeside cottage has been home to his earliest childhood memories.


Almost all pieces here open with a stretch of field recording, presenting the place’s acoustics in a pure form, before the music comes in, entering a symbiosis with the pre-recorded material. The concept of the album has almost automatically led to the plethora of pieces conveying a tranquil, truly happy ambiance of inner quietude and calm. Glockenspiel, guitar, flute, floating drones and heavenly melodies fill the air, leading the listener into a three dimensional dream full of vivid impressions.


On a few occasions, the composers however display an interest in other emotions, pleasantly bending the tension arch: Kannenberg’s “The Mausoleum of All Hope and Desire” is grand and majestic, Aaron Ximm’s “Chai in the City of Light” an inverted psychotrope vision and Leafcutter John’s “Guitar Composed” a bizarrely poetic sawing session.


Because of their similarity in arrangement, the tracks can be seen as depicting the inspirational process in a very direct way: Where first was chaos, there now is order and the unpitched sounds of the world around us are suddenly transposed into the realms of harmony. In each case, the link between the artist’s environment and his music is a direct one: Images, noises or words rise up from the moment and pour themselves on the empty canvas of his mind. If there seems to be a discrepancy or conflict between the location and the piece resulting from it, then this is only obvious: After all, the composition is always subjective, led by sudden and all too often contradictory emotions.


How does it happen precisely? Well, “Favourite Places” offers no clear-cut answers. Very different places can lead to very similar results, while almost identical situations can lead to completely diverging works – perusing the booklet for background information to each track is a wonderful and – ahum – inspiring read, but it doesn’t lead to any conclusive methodology.


On the one hand, it sounds like a disappointment: The creative process is simply too personal to be summarised in a single, unified theory. On the other hand, the message of this album is a very positive one: If so many different places can serve as an impetus, then every moment offers the chance for beauty. While it may never be satisfyingly answered, there is no longer any need to fear that question about inspiration.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Audiobulb Records

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