Philip Samartzis & Eric La Casa’s “Captured Space” reviewed by Chain DLK

“Captured Space” comprises two ambient pieces built up from field recordings made over the space of ten days in and around the Kruger National Park in the corner of South Africa. Individual recordings have been layered up to create something denser than real life, but still essentially realistic. It’s a sonic portrait that, unsurprisingly, is dominated by the wildlife sounds from the generally tranquil sub-tropical park, gentle river sounds, and so on.

Crucially though, it doesn’t shy away from the interjection of human artifice- ranger trucks come and go, distant aeroplanes can be heard, tour guides speaking on loudhailers, and so on. Towards the end of the second part, the pulsing electric safety fence is almost full-on electronica in its droning. This is not purely “the natural world” and the work makes us consciously aware that we are sonic tourists.

The recording quality, incidentally, is absolutely pristine- this is the carefully processed stereo result of what was initially conceived as a multichannel sound installation, and it would be fascinating to step inside that space, though I’m unlikely to get that opportunity.

I’m honestly not sure what the animals we hear at fourteen minutes into the first part are, but their deep calls are loud and decidedly comical, a bizarre cameo in a generally relaxed environment. Between sounds like this and the conscious highlighting of human intervention, this precludes the work from working as a piece of chill-out ambient, and instead it begins to feel more narrative driven- a passively-told drama giving us an impression, rather than a message, of the natural world being pinched and encroached by humanity. The result is an unusual compromise, not too much of any one thing, a work that’s curiously both relaxing and unsettling at the same time. Stuart Bruce

via Chain DLK

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