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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

Christina Kubisch & Eckehard Guther - Mosaique Mosaic [Gruenrekorder - 2013]

This cd, from Gruenrekorder, is presented to their usual smart standards; with a full colour digipak and booklet. The album contains thirteen tracks, recorded in Cameroon by Kubisch and Guther; all of which are field recordings, unprocessed but sometimes collaged. I must admit, that of recent I’ve been non-plussed by the field recording albums I’ve heard. They’ve either been transparently documentarian, or they’ve been cached in highly conceptual terms; often they’ve offered very little to the ear, as such. “Mosaique Mosaic” is a reasonable compromise of the above. There’s no clever theory propping up the recordings, though; instead, the recordings depict slices of Cameroonian life, with a few distinct treats for the ear along the way.
 
The tracks cover a broad swathe of local life, starting off with a hysterical preacher casting out a demon (his words, all the while, being shadowed by a translator), moving through the clanging metals of a workshop, visiting an abandoned hotel at night and following a ramadan procession. There’s a great colour and vibrancy to be found here, exemplified best - in its generality - by the track “street atmosphere”. Here Kubisch and Guther document the very noisy surroundings they find themselves in, complete with the distorted tones of music buzzing through tinny speakers. This cacophony is also to be found, somewhat ramped up a notch, in “abandoned hotel at night”; which is an incredible barrage of animal howls, under a drone of chirruping insects. This desire of nature to keep up with noisy humans is also found on “national park waza”, which catalogues a wealth of almost-electronic sounding insects and birdsong. The last piece, “night and morning atmosphere”, is the longest track by far. It begins with the sound of rain, which gradually lessens to reveal a shimmering drone of insect noises. This night then progresses into day, with a more ethereal insect drone and a chorus of birds: cockerels crowing marking the dawn. This track is one of the few on “Mosaique Mosaic” that really engage the ear, but perhaps the best example is “trainride transcam I”. This pleasantly “sound-y” track essentially follows an insistent squeaking through a changing landscape, with the rusted squeak taking on the guise of a crafted electroacoustic line. Strangely beguiling stuff.
 
I’m not sure who to “sell” this album to. Its a pleasant listen, but not something that has any danger of dominating my stereo. It is, what it is, really: a colourful snapshot of an environment abundant with life and colour. Its also an environment noticeably marked by noise, both human and non-human. This is all well-documented by “Mosaique Mosaic”, but my picky ears want more and its only really “trainride transcam I” that satisfies in that regard.

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

Martin P
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