Bruno Duplant & David Vélez - our seasons reverse

A Closer Listen

Seeing the title, one first assumes that the artists are communicating across opposing hemispheres, one serenaded by summer and the other draped in winter. Instead they are creating a shared sonic world that highlights the danger of climate change, and the potential of reversed seasons around the globe.

While many of the recording areas overlap (for example, London and Paris), others are unique to the artist.  Vélez does indeed interject the sounds of another hemisphere through the recordings of Bogotá.  But there’s little way for the untrained ear to tell where or when these sounds are coming from.  Add a second layer of disorientation ~ Duplant’s organ and Vélez’ theremin ~ and one becomes lost in sound as well.

Freed from the constraints of identifying any specific source, the listener begins to enjoy our seasons reverse as a composition in love with the sonic possibilities of the world.  Birds are present, of course, along with traffic, chimes, the sea, the rain and the snow.  One grows intensely aware of the weather as the piece proceeds.  To paraphrase Martin Amis’ prescient, apocalyptic novel London Fields (1989), the weather is no longer relegated to the back pages, but has become the news.  Duplant and Vélez thread it all together, as if to say, “we are the world,” but also to say, “the world may want to do without us.”

The snowstorm section (beginning in the 20th minute) may sneak in a degree at a time, but in so doing it highlights the danger of global warming.  We don’t notice until it’s too late.  When the storm lands, it does so with the fury of an unexpected, out of season shift, something that has become all too common in recent years: the fall blizzard, the spring frost.  One recalls 1816, “the year without a summer,” only to recognize that this aberration is now a yearly possibility.

In 2019, the role of the field recording artist is more important than ever.  Once considered sonic reflectors and preservers, field recording artists are now operating as prophets as well.  At various times throughout our seasons reverse (but most apparent in the final third), a bell tolls, but ask not for whom.  We know the answer.  Some of Duplant’s recordings were made in a museum; imagine that one day, this will be the only place to encounter nature’s placid sounds, while violent sounds roar outside and we stare through tempered glass, wondering how we let the green slip away.  (Richard Allen)

Wed Jan 09 01:01:19 CET 2019