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 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

Tom Lawrence - Water Beetles of Pollardstown Pound [Gruenrekorder - 2011]

“Water Beetles of Pollardstown Pound” is a field recording based release that journeys into the alien & mostly unheard world of aquatic insects. Tom Lawrence was a wildlife sound recordist, musician and educator, who lived in Dublin Island- sadly he passed away in late 2011, but this release is a fitting tribute to his ability to capture the strange & unique sounds of wildlife, and in particular here insects.

Pollardstown Pound, or Pollardstown Fen as it’s known locally is situated on the northern margin of the Curragh, approximately 3km from Newbridge, County Kildare in  Ireland. The area of the Fen covers 220 hectares, and it’s an area of alkaline peat land that obtains its nutrients from calcium rich spring water. The site is of international importance, as these type of Fens’s are now rare in Ireland and Western Europe. In addition, it contains a number of rare vegetation types and invertebrates which include aquatic insects. Also the Fen has had  an uninterrupted pollen record of the changes in the composition of its vegetation going back to the last ice age.

The CD release features in all ten tracks that last between just under the six minute mark to just over the thirteen minute mark. The release features recordings from ten separate sights on the Fen- a  few of field recordings here have been slightly tampered with due to the sound level of some of the insects been inaudible to human ears, and also time compression has sometimes been used on recordings made of say a 24 hour period, but seemingly most of the sounds you hear are untouched.  The recordings here were mostly done with hydrophones placed closed to the insect subjects, and apart from the odd sound of aircraft this recording features just recordings of the insects in their natural habituate.

The release features recordings of various Water Beetle & Water Bugs such as: Water Scorpion, Greater Waterboatmen, Lesser Waterboatmen, Water Beetle, Great Driving Beetle, and Whirligig Beetle.  And each track features their often dense & complex sounds which take in manner of: clicking’s, wirings, croaks, reeling’s, creaking’s, jittering, purrs & high pitch chatters. The sounds of the aquatic insects are often many layered, so you'll have for example mid to high range clicking’s against low buzzing elements. Also quite often the sounds/ calls take on  a rhythmic & repetitive structure too. At times the calls/ sounds either sound like strange alien Electronica, of even dense & detailed noise composition.

The eight page booklet that comes with the album features a full write-up about the Pollardstown Fen in genreal. Then each track has it’s own small write-up as Mr Lawrence details the recording's progresses, & the origin of each sound heard.

I can really see this release appealing out side the normal field recording market, as the sounds on offer here are quite unique, often almost rhythmic/ structured & odd appealing too. So if you enjoy unusual sound be it noise or dense/complex sounding making this is well worth a look.

Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5Rating: 3 out of 5

Roger Batty
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