And/OAR / Mimeomeme
Until recently, improvisation and field recordings were two occasionally intersecting areas of sonic experimentalism. Seattle Phonographers Union – fourteen individuals including Dale Lloyd, Christopher DeLaurenti and Steve Peters – simply fuse the two concepts into one: field recording-based improvisation. A manifesto characterized by noble intents (notably “uncover what is foreign in the familiar and familiar about the foreign; to explore what we hear and relearn what we know” ) is actuated in five tracks in which the live dialogue between the collective’s members is so seamless that the results resemble the work of a single composer. The many pros and (very few) cons typical of this sort of operation are evident: spectacular juxtapositions of environment and human urbanization are mixed with cyclical squeaking noises, a combination of pre-recorded tapes from different eras and the sound of water materializing after the sudden appearance of potent buzzing drones, with shepherds and muezzins making their presence heard from time to time. And those marvellous gliding aeroplane moans which I could die listening to. My personal way of evaluating a release constructed upon the surrounding sounds of life lies in its capacity of letting one feel “left behind”, faced with distant events that can be merely guessed, conscious that other people are living that experience and willing to imagine their reaction while it’s happening. According to that criterion, Seattle Phonographers Union largely succeeds, improvisation or not.