Various Artists – “Earth (Listening)”

This album came to me via my personal Facebook feed – I follow quite a few Natural History feeds on said site  and it piqued my interest, having an interest in the Natural World and successive momentography.

What I did not expect to see was the length of the album – some of the tracks weigh in at over twenty minutes. And there are 38 tracks!

Billed as being:

[…] to bring together great recordists from around the world and enjoy the sound of our planet. We focused on recordings that did not contain human sound. […]

…. this album was on I put on my system straight away.

But could the instant nature of the release be the inherent downfall of the release? I got my copy as an MP3 Download. As any audiophile knows, MP3 are compressed nonsense, essentially – there is just not the quality of audio found on MP3 as there is on a CD. However, the vehicle of commerce is Bandcamp (link to follow) and you have the option of downloading the album as a FLAC too. But to get a low budget release out to the masses there really is no vehicle quite like Bandcamp. But, it would take a good ear to notice the compression on the wildlife recording contained on Earth (Listening). The whole album flows from track to track.

The artists involved in this compilation have kindly consented to donate their work to the album. Any profit from the sale of the album will go towards World Wildlife Fund. Which is very generous of them and, to a degree, highly inspirational.

I cannot fault the recordings on this album. The recordists are of a fine pedigree and they are at the top of their game. On the recordings there is no wind baffle, coughing or wheezing.

The remit behind this release was to record sounds from around the world without interference from Human sound – quite a difficult job in today’s climate. In the fledgling weeks of 2017 you have to make a concerted effort to find a location that is untouched by Human sound. This is a testimony to the artists who threw themselves in to the wild to document the natural world.

Due to failing health, I struggle to get out in to the wilder areas of Yorkshire – let alone the greater world. This album has become an arm-chair safari – whether the artists intended it to or not. I am unsure how the artists involved intended to pitch their sounds? But it has helped to console this writer that he is part of a much bigger whole. A humbling yet comforting solace.

However, the track I am drawn to most – on the whole album – is one that is strikingly familiar. The final track on the release, ‘Black Bird Social Club (Cumbria)’, could be something that I hear out of my window on a Spring evening. However, because it has been transplanted from the street, gilded, framed and then presented to me as art/documentation/folio I appreciate the exquisite beauty of the everyday all the more.

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