Every day at work I sift through the Google Alerts for Soundwalk’s Gmail account, and occasionally come across something I love. I always like getting alerts from Fluid Radio because the work they feature is usually stunningly beautiful and thought-provoking. Today I found this audio sample from Yann Novak‘s composition Nightfall, which “was created at the Jentel Artist Residency outside Banner, WY in February 2010. Based upon a simple field recording of the start of a snowfall at dusk… the composition explores the shifting point between day and night in the dry and overcast winter month.” (In connection with a piece I once wrote on different ways of telling time, this composition strikes me as being one that defines timelessness, in the sense that timelessness is equally stillness and relentless movement.) “The original recording begins with the dry, empty silence of the landscape, slowly enveloped by the piling of snow upon the microphone’s windscreen.
Each copy of Nightfall is accompanied by a unique watercolor based on the cover photograph of the landscape taken at dusk through the studio window.”
I haven’t purchased the full recording yet, as it’s $40, but the clip available on Fluid Radio is a good taste of it. In discussing sound editing with the guys I work with, I’ve been told that part of the process is manipulating the recordings, usually just hours and hours of static and hertzian frequencies, into something accessible with a narrative. Though I know there is more to Nightfall than just the few minutes on Fluid Radio, even the dark grey wash of sound one hears in the clip seems narrative to me. Perhaps something about its constancy and propulsion, about the feeling of being enveloped, is the key to this. Its lush monotone excludes both everything and nothing – it surrounds like a blanket and like a dark forest, both comfortingly and eerily. The feeling it gives is perhaps that of a freezing person falling asleep in the snow: of simultaneous risk and consolation, and most of all, of timelessness.