Thursday, 8 May 2014

Music Review: Lasse-Marc Riek - Helgoland

(Gruenrekorder Gruen 109)
Helgoland is Germany's only offshore island and home to (according to Wikipedia) around 1000 people and, if this collection of recordings is to be believed, a hell of a lot of birds and a colony of grey seals.
These recordings form part (all?) of Gruenrekorder's head honcho Lasse-Marc Riek's phonography of the island's wildlife and it is a truly fascinating collection of sounds. I'm no bird spotter, I have a garden full of sparrows, jackdaws and magpies along with an occasional great spotted woodpecker (he's awesome), but for the most part I'm happy to put out some feeders to help them along and then go back to my book and leave them be. I suspect Mr. Riek doesn't share my benign ambivalence as the selection of recordings he's produced here are meticulous, detailed and intimate as they document the various conversations and catcalls of the assorted critters with crystal clarity and a curious ear.

Regular readers will know that I'm not the world's biggest field recordings fan. I like them yes but I certainly don't go out of my way to search them out. With that in mind please understand that it takes a lot for an album of solely field recordings to make me really sit up and notice and not to simply turn it down to ambient level and treat it as wallpaper. This album has never been treated in such a way; it's too full of life and to insistent to ever sit at the back of your attention. It's interesting and vibrant and compulsive listening and is amongst the best examples of the craft that it's been my pleasure to hear.

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