Synthetic Bird Music

Synthetic Bird Music

Trees disappear and their inhabitants disappear with them. Global forest cover has declined by about 10% in the past 20 years, and a third of bird species are expected to disappear by the end of this century. Jakub Juhas, the director of the Slovakian company Mappa edizioni, knows this without a doubt. Over the years, the company has built a hall of mirrors of environmental records and experimental installations. A look through his catalog reveals cave dives and discoveries of rust and snow caps. It's a body of work that focuses on isolation, intimacy and silent electronics. Mapa's latest work, Artificial Bird Music, brings together 32 pieces of electronic and experimental music closely related to nature. The works range from several years old to works that are completely new but united by a common interest in organic and electronic synthesis. This is the voice of musicians fighting the climate disaster around the world.

As far back as the 17th century, professional whistlers toured the vaudeville circuit, entering the woods, mocking mockingbirds and performing alongside the whistlers. Synthetic bird music carries this torch with a new urgency, recalling the songs of birds that don't exist and providing accompaniment for those that do. Slow songs and stunning synth work dominate, with delicate keyboards echoing lean ensembles meant to emulate. In "La Guardian de lasondas radiales 1" ("The Guardian of the Radio Waves"), Makakinho del Amor (aka Tomás Tello) weaves bird calls into a tangle of static and loud keyboards. Hmot's "Irekle Goshtar" takes a few bits of birdsong and cranks up the distortion until it sounds like a delivery from a dying ham. Much of the collection works like this: it's a swan dive into an uncanny valley, somewhere between the real and the fantastic, the hilarious and the unsettling.

Synthetic bird music presents a world of styles for birdsong and companionship: industrial techno with reinvented sounds ("Vögel Unserer Heimat" by Native Instrument), quirky Fourth World atmosphere ("Harpusta/Tarjous" by Tomutonttu) and rock post-bird (Baldruin's) "Sondebare Ereignise am Lake Hillier" and elaborate rehearsals in a haunted house ("Wildbirds of Bluezealand" by Mike Cooper) The recording brings together artists from many scenes - Bratislava, Berkshire, San Francisco, Sydney - but each work An feels like a part of A Wordless Novel, an atlas full of imaginative scenes (helping to organize the album chronologically, from pre-dawn birdsong to haunting night), deliberately placed textures and other compositional techniques.

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