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Boomkat Product Review:
Glacial, magisterial studies in the psychoacoustics and aural phenomena of Lithuanian folk music from Joshua Sabin; exploring the emotional potency of the human voice through manipulations of archival recordings, traditional instruments and native forest ambiences.
Drawing from the folk music archives of the Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre Ethnomusicology Archive, Sabin was particularly struck by recordings of Sutartinės: a near-extinct form of two and three voiced polyphony notable for the way it uses dissonance and creates perceptible “beating” frequencies due to the way singers (usually women), or instrumentalists on a skudučiai (a sort of panpipe, often played by men), create driving, dissonant tensions between their tightly syncopated parts.
Also taking cues from the psychoacoustic research of Rytis Ambrazevičius, whose computer analyses highlighted the unique acoustic and harmonic complexities in these archival songs, Sabin subtly exaggerates and reroutes what he calls their “arresting and often almost plaintive and minimalistic beauty” into a suite of forested soundscapes that unfurl with a natural beauty comparable to Ian William Craig’s decayed, long exposure landscapes, the arcane and ritualistic atmospheres of Lussuria, or the wind-etched grain of Richard Skelton.