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machinefabriek / various - Take A Closer Listen
This intriguing project is curated by Rutger Zuydervelt (aka Machinefabriek), and - let's get this out of the way from the get-go - features absolutely no music at all. It does however offer "72 pages of sound", with textual accounts of favourite noises, incidental and otherwise, cited by artists like Nate Wooley, Taylor Deupree, Aaron Martin, Felicity Ford, Ezekiel Honig, Richard Chartier, Tori Kudo, Simon Scott, Chris Herbert and many more. The book is designed to "inspire you to listen differently", encouraging the listener/reader to pay closer attention to the everyday soundscape around them. Some of these artists offer an explanatory paragraph, giving reasons for and context behind their selections, but the main bulk of the pages are populated by short phrases offering as direct an evocation as possible of a particular sound - like an auditorily-inspired collection of imagist haikus, except here the poetry is thin. The problem is perhaps that the contributors are sound artists yet the medium is textual, and so the images can be a tad low impact. The book begins inauspiciously with "windchimes on a front porch", presenting you with nothing more than a cosy cliche, but better is to come: Felicity Ford's "the clunk of a cooling paint can" at least has the decency to aliterate. Further to that she gives a fairly lucid, evocative account of this under-documented acousmatic phenomenon. Of all the entries, my personal favourite has to be Ezekiel Honig's "a distant refrigerator", prompting the question: precisely how distant can a refrigerator be whilst remaining audible? Unless you've got an alarmingly defective fridge, you'd think that once you've left the kitchen you'd hear it no more. And even then, it's not especially 'distant', is it? Things being far away seems to be a bit of a theme here actually, leading you to suspect that what these people really want is peace and quiet: one artist opts for "a far-off foghorn from a ship at sea", another picks "constant traffic on a distant road". Some of you might be suitably inspired to re-engage with your everyday surroundings by such prompters, but another listener/reader might just as easily find the book perplexingly short on substance. Still, it'd probably make a nice stocking filler for the budding field recordist in your family...