I’ve just taken a sonic trip half around the world. I was in Newfoundland, courtesy of Anthony Kelly (Auralog Third draft: Soundwalking in Conche), and soon after found myself in Hong Kong, in the company of Edwin Lo (Rabbit Travelogue: Central Region). It was particularly fascinating to me to listen to these two works back to back, cartographies of journeys on two very different paths, that yet departed from the same ethnographic starting point. The first a more traditional adventure, at times reminiscent of a radio documentary in style, featuring large spoken sections of answers and questions interspersed with field recordings and music. More than the stories themselves I found myself drawn to the Irish heritage contained within the interviewee’s accents: nearly moving in their apologetic mid-Atlantic indecision, which also invested the Sean-nós recordings with a true sense of melancholy, and loss. While in Auralog the listener is aware of the presence of the recordist(s) throughout and is led on a narrative journey, Edwin Lo rather invites you to follow with a wink and a nudge, you play catch up past alleys and train station platforms, in a joyous blending of drones and field recordings. As you catch your breath you are left on your own to look around, explore, imagine- he lets go of your hand, but you sense he’s never far away and won’t let you stray. There is one particular moment straddling the terrifying and the comical, an angry man is shouting abuse and is recorded in an unflinching continuous take, until the drama resolves on its own. This was an intense, almost cinematic moment in its power to hold the listener’s breath – which also succeeds in reminding a globalised audience just how much power language – and the lack of it – still holds.
Auralog Third Draft: Soundwalking in Conche (by Anthony Kelly, David Stalling, Slavek Kwi, Seán McCrum), Fairpoint Recordings
Rabbit Travelogue: Central Region (by Edwin Lo), Rabbit Travelogue Edition