Frans De Waard, Vital, no 1037, 20 juin 2016

As far as I recall the only other time the name Jonty Harrison came up in Vital Weekly was when I reviewed a release by a student of his, Peter Batchelor (Vital Weekly #929). Much of the work composed by Harrison is simply not designed to be played on a stereo system, but to be experienced in places; places where they have a whole bunch of speakers, anything from a couple more than two up to an immense lot. Harrison is aware himself of the problem that presents this when reducing it to stereo for a CD release. Joseph Anderson suggested to use Ambisonics, which “is a full-sphere surround sound technique: in addition to the horizontal plane, it covers sound sources above and below the listener” (and you can read lots more on wiki, I’d say). Much of Harrison’s work deals with field recordings and ever since the 90s he’s been carrying around devices to do these recordings, usually when traveling. On this release we have two pieces. The fourteen-minute Espaces cachés and the one-hour long Going / Places. The first piece seems to be overlapping field recordings together, so that multiple sounds come together and create a new place; one recognize some of the sounds, and sometimes we don’t. There are cicadas, city sounds, farmyard and nature recordings — and no doubt lots more. It seems to be having mild processing, but surely it hasn’t.

The other piece, Going / Places contains [twenty-three] separate pieces of music, which create the sense of journey. There is lots of railway stations, tourists, harbours, boats in here, along with a geothermal pool in both Iceland and New Zealand, crickets, people playing music, a call for prayer and many more. Here too some of it is cut together, but then sounds that are from a similar group, like the aforementioned pools, or bells from various countries at the same time. It makes indeed a wonderfully [sound journey], across continents, from cities to nature and back. Sometimes it seems there is some kind of processing going on but I’m sure there is none. This release works best when one uses a pair of headphones in order to hear this ambisonics work best; in a more normal situation with speakers it worked a bit less in that respect.

It makes indeed a wonderfully [sound journey], across continents, from cities to nature and back.