Children Of The Wave
The Electric Sounds Of Far Away Choirs
9 Track, LP (2012, Sensory Projects)
Related: Children Of The Wave.
Four years in the making, and featuring soundscapes that vary from an island off the coast of Morocco to a freeway underpass in Melbourne suburb Pascoe Vale, The Electric Sounds of Far Away Choirs has certainly earned its keep as a global sound sampler. Children of the Wave’s second album is a reflection of Dan Flynn (also of Major Chord) and Mark Rayner’s recent journeys near and far, a cross-regional coming together of sound that combines the foreign and the familiar. Example: the album opens with ‘Kora Bomb’, a track featuring Australian Bec Matthews on the West African 21-string harp the kora, an instrument that reappears on the final track.
The album contrasts field recordings with sharper studio tracks. Rainforest and beach sounds that would be at home in a guided meditation are interspersed with well-crafted, beat-driven tunes that unfold organically and delightfully, bringing to mind instrumental four-piece Coda’s For Our Animal Friends EP. All the melding is intriguing and at times beautiful. What’s often missing, however, is satisfying cohesion. While the sounds themselves hold attention at their independent levels, they don’t always mesh to create something new.
An exception is ‘I Defy You’, which has a simultaneously fresh and nostalgic quality, almost like passing through familiar scenery when your perception is warped. It’s like watching the sun rise over your hometown after a four-day bender. The concoction of audio nuances feels less haphazard – a little more calculated – and the result is a standout track.
In ‘Standing on the Beach at Ponta Delgada’, the rising tension of the ocean soundscape makes one wonder what place could have inspired such daunting ambience. A search reveals that Ponta Delgada is a city of about 20,000 on the Portuguese coast, built on an undulating terrain of volcanic rock and mountains. Apart from the quick geography lesson, the upshot of this research is the realisation that this album has done its dash around the world before playing through your humble headphones.
‘Come Play Frolic’ is a light-hearted acoustic number which, despite the occasional discordant vocal, is relatively easy to swallow. If you consume instrumental music the same way I do – in solitude, with a level of concentration that allows for mind-wandering – you’ll probably prefer COTW’s less demanding, more gracefully independent tracks, such as this one. Other songs don’t play out a harmonic journey like some instrumental music, but then perhaps a soundscape that stretches from urban tunnels to elevated mountain ranges isn’t meant to achieve harmony.
For a journey that keeps you on edge with wonderment, the album achieves its purpose. By the time it has come full circle and the kora reprises on ‘Half A Million Light Years That Way’, you’ll either be reaching for your Lonely Planet guide or revisiting the leather-bound journal from your last trip.
by Amy Middleton