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Editor’s Pick: ‘Metaphonics, The Complete Field Works Recordings’ by Stuart Hyatt

Text by CLOT Magazine

Field recordings have the capacity to capture and preserve the acoustic characteristics of places and people, usually confined to the realms of research and the most experimental artists. With new technological advancements, we’ve seen a larger number of musicians using these in their compositions. There is also, in the current times, a heightened concern for preserving our environment and what surrounds us.

Stuart Hyatt has spent the last four years collecting these sounds and arranging them into uniquely site-responsive music. Inspired by Hyatt’s audio field recordings, musicians from around the world [1] have contributed complex sonic narratives under the Field Works common moniker with over 50 new compositions to this massive collection.

Metaphonics: The Complete Field Works Recordings (out on the 21st of September 2018 in Temporary Residency Ltd) is a sprawling anthology of site-responsive music, imagery, and original text, spanning 7 vinyl LPs and a hardbound book. 

Each album begins with Hyatt’s samples and soundscapes from a particular time and location, weaving them into musical phrases and ultimately into song cycles intended to give the listener a heightened and more nuanced sense of place. Hyatt shared with us that after those for years of compiling field recordings, he thinks ‘nature can’t be improved upon. It is perfect. I am only beginning to grasp the jaw-dropping complexity of our environmental soundscapes. As humans – and we are undeniably a part of this sonic web now – our contributions are powerful and should be examined critically.

The companion book, Metaphonics: The FieldWorks Listener’s Guide, offers the listener context through original essays on acoustic ecology, human noise, and the aesthetics of our soundscape. In the book, Hyatt contributes a complete track-by-track guide to the 7 albums, addressing the interpretation of place through sound from many angles.

Renowned naturalist Bernie Krause writes the book’s foreword, establishing a taxonomy of the soundscapes explored in the book’s essays: geophony (earth sounds), biophony (animal sounds), anthropophony (human sounds) and cosmophony (sounds from outer space).

The book features original contributions from Cheryl Tipp, Leah Barclay, Gustavo Valdivia, Enrique Ramirez, Yiorgis Sakellariou, Sarah Laskow, Stuart Fowkes, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Manuja Waldia and Peter Liversidge.

On the 26th of September 2018, the book will be launched at Iklectik in London. The event will feature readings by Hyatt, Yiorgis Sakellariou, and Stuart Fowkes—live soundtrack and film by musicians Bob Hoffnar and Joseph Terrana. Janneane and Benjamin Blevins will share the book’s design. Peter Liversidge will unveil a new work made specifically for this event. Sandra Boss will present The Acoustic Appraiser. Jez Riley French will perform a sonic lecture. The evening will conclude with a special musical performance in complete darkness by Sakellariou.

[1] The FieldWorks musicians:  Stuart Hyatt, Dan Deacon, Juana Molina, The Field, Pantha du Prince, Eluvium, Dntel, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, Gazelle Twin, Visible Cloaks, The Album Leaf, Loscil, Matmos, Rafiq Bhatia, Paul de Jong, Julien Marchal, Mary Lattimore, Lali Puna, Lusine, B. Fleischmann, William Tyler, Nick Zammuto, Lullatone, Benoit Pioulard, Luke Abbott, Marcus Fischer, Rafael Anton Irisarri, Greg Davis, Player Piano, Prototokyo, Daring Ear, Enrique Ramirez, and Forrest Lewinger.

(Media courtesy of the artist)
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