Field Recording

By Nøkken

I went to the deep woods late at night, like I usually do, but this time to make some field recordings of the river, the wind and wildlife. I had hoped to create soundscapes for a new album.

Cop drove by as I neared the entrance and slowly drove ahead. Apparently he wanted to cite me for breaking curfew or something. So he u-turned and stopped right at the entrance of the park and turned on his high beams, waiting for me to cross the line. It is a long stretch of wooded road. I decided to sit down and meditate. Five minutes go by, and the cop gets tired of waiting so he drive slowly by me and then out of the park.

But I sit there, still meditating in front of the entrance. He circles back, no once, not twice, but five times, trying to have a reason to arrest me I guess, and I just sit there meditating, for thirty minutes, until he realized I was wasting his time.

Eventually I get to make the field recordings, and sitting there I realize that the noise of traffic, sirens, mufflerless joy riders, monstrous dull roaring of a million faceless machines is drowning out even the river and the crickets. Even the bird chirrups are silent, one lonely nearby bird making thin, pained sounds into the night, with no one to answer. The crickets are barely sounding. There is not a single scurrying in the vast brush, of some mammal rooting around. It’s just traffic, endless traffic, deep in the woods, and hardly anything is alive even now, or it is afraid. Afraid of the roar. Afraid of me. Within this disgusting body made in the image of annihilation, I am nothing but a furless monster sitting in the stillness of death.

I wanted to capture the activity of millions of wild creatures in the night, those I call my kin. I wanted to layer them to capture a memory from the seemingly endless string of lives I lived before this one, to share that. In many ways I have no right to take from the world to make music, to steal sounds from the woods, but it is not because of any human law.

And besides, it would all be a lie now. It would be artifice, a digital invention of something that barely exists anymore, is mostly gone, nothing more than hauntology of a wasteland that still appears living because everyone has forgotten what living was.

All I found in the woods is the sound of a dying world: traffic moaning like countless animated corpses. And it’s hard to even muster the will to create what I had intended, or even whether I should, or should I just share the ugliness of traffic screaming into the night, Ego, the long and slow eating of itself? At this point Ego is putrid.

This dying world that you have made. Where listening to the ever-shrinking sound of crickets is illegal. Look at you now, humankind, the child that dreamed of this, in all your greatness, look at you! Look at the great purging of the heathen spirits that populated this world billions of years before your birth, long before any of it had a babbled name. Look at what you have made with your grand designs and unquestionable heroism, the “unbreakable spirit of mankind” mumbled desperately by philosophers and poets across a blip of cosmic time.

Is it everything you imagined it to be?