Mark Vernon - Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm [3leaves - 2015]Ákos Garai’s 3 Leaves imprint presents Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm by Mark Vernon. 3 Leaves is a label that is synonymous with expertly crafted, field recording-based releases. This full-length CD is no exception.
Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm is one single 54 minute track, composed from field recordings Vernon captured during a 6-week residency at Sura Medura, Hikkaduwa in Sri Lanka. As you can imagine, what we have here is a tapestry of sounds found in Sri Lanka’s open markets, natural spaces, and wildlife. These aren’t just raw recordings, but a musical collage, expertly composed, and presented in stunning clarity. Some of the things you will hear are: a bustling market place, the sounds of merchants selling their wares, traffic, aquatic sounds, rain forests teaming with birds, frogs and insects, random sounds (a typewriter clacking, machinery churning, the water droplets in a shower stall?), indigenous people chanting along with a man on a megaphone, and many other sounds (from the mundane to the exquisite) found in his environment. That all might sound like par for the course on these types releases where field-recordings comprise the foundation, however there’s a whole lot of layering and weaving; pairing just the right sounds together to breathe life into this audio documentary.
Along with many of the environmental sounds found on the disc, there are also plenty of musical interludes to be found, including: indigenous folk music, the sounds of a very familiar piece of classical music played by a harmonium-like instrument, and a panoply of percussive beats. Most interestingly, Vernon mentions in the liner notes that an “odd looking machine” found in the middle of one of streets he frequented in Colombo, produced rhythmic music to banish the unwanted sounds of the material world. I wasn’t always aware when this contraption of drum, bell, and cymbal made it’s mark on the album, but no doubt it’s presence was heavily featured.
Perhaps my favorite parts of the album are where Vernon splices the sounds of both wildlife and music. Frogs, birds, and crickets seamlessly buzz and sing to rhythmic beats and folksy sounds. Its as if through some magic stroke, Vernon is able to get humans and animals to act in unison to create a wonderful musical composition.
I’ve had the pleasure of listening to many great field-recording based albums this year, but Things That Were Missed in the Clamour for Calm is certainly one of the most memorable. Another quality release by the 3 Leaves imprint.Hal Harmon