THE PASEO RECORDINGS
The Paseo Recordings began with field recordings of Before (Taos) being played in an alley off the Taos, NM Historic Plaza during The Paseo Project. The Paseo Project is a street art festival in -- you guessed it -- Taos, NM. Before (Taos) is a two hour long sound installation that was a part of that festival. See the Past Work section of this page (below) for more on the installation. The Paseo Recordings is a comprehensive documentation of all of these pieces.
The Paseo Recordings picks up where Before (Taos) left off. Both projects seek to establish a strong sense of place, both utilize field recordings in and around Taos, NM. Where Before (Taos) focuses on recordings of natural sounds, The Paseo Recordings place human activity in the foreground. Where Before (Taos) focuses on simplicity, The Paseo Recordings are rich and complex.
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"It has been quite a while since I last heard of Ben Link Collins, Vital Weekly 828 if I am not mistaken and also from his publishing house, Silent Media Projects, I didn’t hear much. But here he returns with a CDR and an USB device that contains the same four pieces as on the CDR as well as an extra piece of music, two hours and twelve minutes long. All of this deals with field recordings Collins taped between 2009 and 2016, when he was living in Taos, New Mexico and not far away from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the Rio Grande. With those field recordings he created both the four pieces on the CDR as well as the two-hour piece, which was a sound installation part of the street festival in Taos. That work came first and deals more field recordings; lots of insects and bird sounds I would think, but also drone like processed versions thereof. I enjoyed the drones and field recordings quite a bit, and rather than think of this as ‘just another piece of music, the length of it, the two hours, makes this is more a private installation for the listener at home. Simply sit back and relax. I was reminded of the work of Artificial Memory Trace. Throughout the piece there is change and movement, also adding extra electronic elements, more disturbance of an unknown kind and it slowly progresses from something in which you recognize field recordings into a gentler abstract piece of ambient music. On The CDR the human activity is captured, even when it is not always clear what kind of action that is, or that it can combine natural and animals captured in the process. Clearly I have no idea what it is that people do in Taos, New Mexico, but maybe we could assume there is some sort of manual labour captured, pulling of ropes for instance in ‘Reaching In’ or various modes of transport, such as a train; maybe I am wrong altogether. Sometimes we hear people speak in a faraway distance. Of course these pieces are shorter but use a similar approach to using the pure field recordings as well as the processed version thereof, but now in a concise time frame, focusing more on the composition, rather than letting it develop in a natural way as on the long piece. Here too the balance between the natural and the processed version is very well made. Lovely package also."
(FdW) - Vital Weekly
"The Paseo Recordings is an extremely generous project, including nearly three hours of sound art and a set of 13 small photo cards. Years in the making, the project is a reflection on the history of Taos, New Mexico (latest population count 5,716). The town is currently an artist mecca, but is also home to a pueblo; the “place of red willows” has been a place of many tears.
We recommend listening to “Before (Taos)” first. The two-hour piece (found on a biodegradable USB stick) was first introduced as an art installation during a local street festival. The placidity of the piece hearkens back to Collins’ work on Of Silence; these are sounds one must listen to in order to hear. Imagining Taos before human intrusion, the composition is nevertheless subject to such intrusion; early on, a vehicle backs up and finds its way into the recording. Hearing the dogs bark, the bees buzz and the birds sing, one imagines a period of relative calm. All of this takes place over an extended low crackle, a continuous soft din like that of cicadas. A brief downpour in the first quarter hour provides a jolt of excitement; appearing later, the running water reminds one of the Rio Grande. Due to the tonal variety of the extended piece, one can utilize it as a sound installation within one’s home; while soothing, it’s also active enough to engage the listener over the course of its length. Every few minutes, there’s something new, whether quiet electronics early or loud drones late (1:51). But the natural sounds win out in the end, especially the interplay between water and surface that sounds remarkably like fire.
Now, enter humanity. The presence of people is apparent early; one hears the voices of children in “Reaching In”, followed by conversation and creaks. There’s little notice of the clash between indigenous and interloper; in this setting, all humanity serves the latter role. The contrast is sharp. A bird gets a few peeps, but that’s it. The drones advance past their former levels. Ten minutes in, the bees are drowned by foreground clacking; humans who don’t care to be quiet. Yet it’s hard to fault them, as the sound art is itself human; this is the aural equivalent of taking a photo only to find another photographer in the frame. If we prefer “Before (Taos)”, are we indicting ourselves?
A telling segment occurs in “A Soiree” as a truck brakes to a halt, introducing a few seconds of circuitry static. Such sounds possess a different form of beauty. Many have grown so acclimated to technology that they prefer these sounds to those of nature. Is this Taos now? It’s hard to imagine such a change given the small population. It may be more accurate to say that the newer tracks reflect the mindset of an area whose history has been rewritten. When wind chimes ring in “Bringing Out”, a sense of peace is restored; the dogs may be agitated, but the humans are calmed. The wind blows against unshielded microphones; power tools are turned on. Only in the final minutes do the birds and crickets reemerge. Have they been there all along? And would we notice if they had gone?" (Richard Allen) A Closer Listen
ALABAMA FIELD SERIES
I'm particularly excited about the Alabama Field series. It will be my endeavors to document the resonating qualities of Alabama and surrounding areas through field recording and photography of focused subjects. This project will be about as close to pure phonography as I currently have an interest in pursuing in a single collection. These recordings are used with all the imperfections, clips, bumps, and accidental flourishes left in tact. The means of recording and at times the recordist are as much at center stage as the recorded subject. The focus is more based in the experience of the subject audio and the recording event than a keepsake portrait. Even some of the minicassette recordings I was making over a decade ago have been dug out and digitally transferred for consideration.
The first release in the series will be a little more broad in focus than the later releases. So far it is the product of my excitement to be back home among the sounds, smells, and colors of Alabama -- where I spent the first 25 years of my life. The following releases in the series will be selections of concise subject matter such as water, room sounds, or insects. For now, here is an excerpt from "Porch and Pasture," which will be on Part 01.
The Lighthouse has recently taken its first steps with a 10 day trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. Its focus and purpose will likely evolve a few times before completion. Currently the focus is broad. It includes the documentation of lighthouses as an outdated architectural form, as a cliché, and a vessel for ideals. The documentation is through phonography, field recording based composition, photography, and fictional memoir. The final product is ambitious and will take time to develop and produce. It will also most likely take years to complete. It may never be complete, but I will occasionally release slivers of documentation here. For starters, this is a recording near the Bodie Light in Nag's Head, NC.