“Berlin Backyards” reviewed by Textura

Berlin Backyards
Obviously Aubry’s idea of a typical Berlin backyard isn’t a quiet and peaceful haven one retreats to as a respite from the noise of the city but instead a place where loud, industrial machinery churns relentlessly. Such equipment—air conditioners, trash compactors, recycling containers, electric power stations, all of which keep the city running—exhales convulsively like a living organism throughout the recording’s forty-nine minutes. Aubry spent the winter of 2006 recording the city’s backyards, and in the process became more sensitive to the setting as an interzone between the public and private sphere. The eight-part musique concrète composition the Berlin-based sound artist fashioned from his source material implicitly argues that the city’s backyards operate according to rhythms very much like a human being’s. The opening sections are aggressive, even violent in their indomitable churn and throb, and the sound is so intense it feels as if one is positioned within the machinery (as an indication of track one’s character, imagine a microphone positioned close to the tracks of a subway car in order to best capture its screech). Though the intensity level subsides somewhat during the recording’s middle section, allowing quieter noises such as water, footsteps, and voices to be heard, the activity level never flags, and soon we’re thrust once again into the belly of the industrial beast. Traffic sounds of cars racing past appear alongside machine rumble and workers’ clatter in the final section. It bears mentioning that, here and elsewhere, Aubry doesn’t merely juxtapose field recordings or sequence them but instead arranges the materials into a large-scale conceptual whole that, in its way, becomes almost musical.

via Textura

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