ROOM 40, Book + 3″ CD, Dec 2010, RMBK001, ISBN-13: 978-0980814903
Collaborative sound mapping, random field recording, sonic memory and live transmission from specific sites are various approaches that have been explored and used in the recent past, especially in connection with enormous potential of active audience contribution of recordings and networked microphones. Lawrence English here uses a different approach, making use of his own substantial experience. With the first in a series of “Site-Listening” guides published on his own label Room 40, he’s implicitly reaffirming the central role of the editor (or curator), who is able to select a small but extremely meaningful set of audio materials. In his own words Site-Listening is “the act of attentive listening in any chosen location, privileging the auditory environment as the focus of awareness. (…) it’s about privileging the ears over the eyes.” Brisbane, with its varied terrain, urban and rural settings and consequent ambiences, is a good place to start. David Toop, Nick Earls and Lawrence English himself are the authors of three essays included in the book, reflecting on their daily sound experience. The seventeen locations chosen in the city are described as a representative though nonetheless personal sound map, including photographs, notes and GPS locations, and printed in a pocket guidebook (perfect to be carried around and consulted when needed) while recordings from each site are hosted in the included 3″ cd. Audio tourism or contemplative awareness of one’s own territory? Enthusiastically both, probably.