I spent a month in Seoul with the aims of producing a short ethnographic documentary about Korean shamanism. The project has since been shelved due to a number of reasons and, though the footage may materialise in some fashion eventually, I didn't want the entire trip to have gone to waste.
These recordings were made during a private 'kut' ceremony that was held to help the patron's relationship with her boyfriend. The noisy drumming is designed to attract good spirits while simultaneously frightening away less desirable ones. 'Muga' are sang as entertainment for the spirits but are not considered to have any more spiritual or religious value than other songs; there is no canonical repertoire and the shamans and/or gods are free to sing whatever they'd like.
During the coronavirus lockdown I wasn't able to go out and make recordings or play music with others, so I went back to making noisy ambient sound collages like I did when I first started experimenting with music.
There is one track for every room of my flat, composed entirely of objects found in it - musical or otherwise.
After a year of producing my podcast 'Field Trips', I found myself with over four hours of material of varying quality. I can't reasonably expect anyone to listen to all of that, so this album is meant as a "best of" compilation - my favourite recordings from the series.
Whereas previous projects of mine have been more thematically consistent with a pre-planned concept to work from, with this album I instead adopted a more curatorial mindset, the results of which I found quite interesting. There's no overarching theme here, but I do recognise an aesthetic continuity or "style" in the recordings I've selected. It's not something I had previously been consciously aware of, but I seem to gravitate to crowded places with a more explicitly musical element to them, or otherwise I enjoy quieter places by the water. There's also less emphasis on ambiences and more of a focus on scenes, events, happenings, etc. - moments with a bit more of a narrative to follow.
The main benefit to this process is that the recordings haven't been in any way restricted or forced by any concept: Taking my album Dochuki for comparison, while hiking along the Tokaido road I would sometimes not find anything of interest to record but still had to make a recording for the sake of thematic consistency (one track for each post-station on the road), but sometimes I also came across several interesting sounds/capes in the same area but had to pick only one for the same reason. As a result I have mixed thoughts on that album: On the one hand it contains some of my best recordings, on the other hand there are some dull segments. I don't feel the same way about this album - The recordings may be arbitrary, but what I hope is that a higher standard is maintained throughout in regards to both technical quality as well as substance.
My parents recently moved house and while going through all of their belongings came across a number of outdated recording media - cassettes, reel to reel tape, minidiscs, even a couple of microcassettes - which they gave to me to see if I found anything interesting. Of the cassettes, most of them were mixtapes and practice tapes for my mother (she's a classical singer), but this one stood out to me. One side is of when my mother was pregnant with my older sister, and the other side was recorded three years later when she was pregnant with me. Maybe these recordings only mean something to me but I thought they were neat.
This film was made as part of my MA course in ethnomusicology. In it, I hoped to not only portray the pair as intriguing and talented musicians but also as witty and charismatic friends. Furthermore, the film investigates the inevitable dichotomies inherent in trying to create an album of free improvisations; how can a genre so ephemeral be appropriately contextualised for a closed and fixed document?
The album should be out sometime soon.
Field Trips is a short podcast in which I talk about field recording and listening - why I do it, what I notice, and the often indistinct line between 'sound' and 'music'. The show is both an excuse to go out recording more regularly, as well an attempt to explain my hobby to people who might not otherwise be familiar with it (while also appealing to other like-minded recordists).
All episodes are free to download sans-commentary from mola-recordings.bandcamp.com/album/field-trips where you can also choose to leave a donation to help support the show, if you'd like.