Field Recordings from Barbados (recorded 2004, released 2009)
Here are the sounds that I liked best while we stayed on this island: the eternal Atlantic surf; the rustling and squeaking of giant bamboo groves; the singing of a million tiny whistling tree frogs at dusk.
Here is some kind of an interview for PRI's The World, a BBC radio news magazine, where I talk for a few minutes about how these recordings came about.
Will Montgomery, The Wire 311, January 2010:
Michael Peters (...) presents two 25 minute tracks, one of giant bamboo moving in the wind, the other of whistling tree frogs. Duration is integral to the effect. Little changes on the surface, although of course the sounds are constantly shifting, with the leisurely pace of minimal electronic work of such artists as John Hudak. After a while the trees and frogs no longer sound like trees and frogs: all is a miasma of interlocking repetitive patterns. The play between stasis and variation draws you back to these recordings again and again
Frans de Waard, Vital Weekly:
Barbados (...) - Michael Peters went there in 2004 to make these two long field recordings. (...) Both pieces are self-explanatory. In ‘Giant Bamboo’ he recorded a bamboo tree, along with some green monkeys having lunch, whereas in the opening piece ‘Whistling Tree Frogs’, he recorded a chorus of ‘a million tiny whistling tree frogs’, singing in palm trees, along with wind sounds and sea waves of the Atlantic Ocean. As simple and clear as that. Both pieces have the exact same length, which I thought was quite odd, and are at their best ambient music pieces - sound that surrounds you in your environment. A very fine CD
Jez Riley French:
Micheal Peters brings us two lengthy recordings made in Barbados:
track one, clocking in at just over 25 minutes, captures whistling tree frogs in Bathsheba on the east coast of Barbados. Recordings of ‘nature’ very often end up falling into either the scientific camp or the tree-hugger idea of what the natural world is – you know, it’s all very warm and the animals are our friends etc etc. Michael’s recordings escape those traps by their sheer visceral quality. The length of this audible onslaught (25.21) takes the listener into an experience that renders the environment a puzzling and strange place, which is after all the truth of the matter.
The second track features the sounds of giant bamboo trees being moved by the wind. The recording also captures various animal, insect & bird sounds of course but it is by focusing on the sounds of the trees themselves that one can appreciate the track in full. Anyone who has stood amongst a reasonably sized group of trees and listened to the veritable symphony that emerges from their movements will know just how varied the sounds can be. Again the length of the track (also 25.21) is of importance. If the track were 5 or 10 minutes long it would simply be a documentary recording of the environment but here we can listen past the initial interest in the specific sounds and allow the landscape to emerge on its own terms.
As far as recordings of the natural world are concerned the key is not to provide us humans with a safe and sanitized version but to remind us that we are no more than one small part of this planet & for all our supposed knowledge we have no real understanding of the way it works. It is this uneasy realisation that can in the end provide us with the most satisfying and empowering way to listen. The cover & sleeve notes on this release could lead one to believe this is one of those ‘safe’ examples, but the artist has used both the duration and the intensity of the tracks to safely sidestep that trap.
"Now what are these circular structures on the CD cover?" Take a look to find out:
- recording giant bamboo sounds
- recording giant bamboo sounds
- circular structures on the lower end of a giant bamboo stem