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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

Lasse-Marc Riek - Helgoland [Gruenrekorder - 2013]

 “Helgoland” finds Lasse Marc-Riek (German sound artist & field recordist) visiting the island of Helgoland (Germany’s only ocean island)to make a series of captervating, primal, sometimes haunting and alien sounding field recordings.

The island of Helgoland is situated 46 kilometres off the German coast line in the north-sea. In the 19th century it had been in possession of both England & Danish goverments, but by the 20th century it had come under control of  the German empire.

During World War II, the first facilities for a huge naval base were erected on the Island. The tunnels and bunkers from that time were blown up in 1947. In the following years, the island served as a training area for British bombers.

Today Heligoland is a holiday resort and enjoys a tax-exempt status, and it’s a most popular visiting place for bird spotters & ornithologists from around the world, as more than 370 different species of  birds have been counted there, even though only few of them do actually breed in the island. Nevertheless, Helgoland is among the spots in Europe, that is most densely populated by birds. Within Germany, it is also the only place populated by marine birds like Common Murre, Northern Gannet, Northern Fulmar, Razorbill and Black-legged Kittiwake.

The CD consists of 16 tracks in all, and these somewhat follow a sonic story line. With the album starting with Marc-Riek arriving on Helgoland with the sounds of the sea, and the album ends with the sounds of his plane departing mixed with the sound of a male grey seal pup. The 14 tracks in-between take in recordings of: the sea surf, the large cliff face were many of the islands birds nest, the sound Guillemonts, various recordings taken along the Mole(a concrete & steel sea wall), sounds from  birds such as: the Black-legged Kittiwake, Northern Gannet, Arctic Tern, & Lesser black-backed Gulls. Along with various recordings of male( bull) grey seals & grey seal puppies.


Length wise the tracks last between just under the two minute mark, to just over the four minute mark. Marc-Riek selects the runing time perfectly for each track;so that the sounds & textures never get overplayed, and the sonic journey is always moving forward.


Sound wise the tracks move from the hypnotic & ragged wash ‘n’ swirl of the sea. Onto the layered, detailed & highly active chirping, baying & squawking of the bird cliff. Onto a mix of smaller ‘n’ rapid chick chirping, and older bird squawking. Onto the almost merchically & crude chatter of the Kittiwake. Through to soothing, yet coarsely bobbing sound of seawater against concrete. Onto the baying & moaning sound of the Grey Seals- which sounds very oddly emotional, and at times quite alien.

The CD comes in a effective white screen print on manila card sleeve. And also we get a 24 page booklet which takes in a few short pieces of writing in both English & German, about the recordings & the island it self. And a also a selection of wonderfully vibrate & times stark pictures of the islands wildlife & terrain.

“Helgoland” is another fine example of an expertly conceived, recorded & laid out field recording releasing from the excellent Gruenrekorder label.

Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5Rating: 4 out of 5

Roger Batty
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