Mikel R. Nieto – Dark Sound


Gruenrekorder, ISBN 978-3-00-052370-0, Huao, Basque, Spanish and English, 176 pages, 2016, Germany

In the product page on the label’s website the description of this release ends with this warning: “Partially legible. Sunlight reading recommended”. It’s hard to fail recognising that this warning is absolutely appropriate, until you realise that it’s a black book, with black opaque pages, printed with black lucid ink, housing a black CD. And it doesn’t stop there, as it doesn’t have a fixed sale price, but its price is determined by the crude oil Brent price at the time of purchase, so the author and label warn that if you buy the book you’ll “contribute to the destruction of the planet.” With these creepy premises, a curiosity about the content of the work immediately arises. And after a few attempts, the reader can find the right angle and light to (struggle to) start reading realising that it’s a remarkable collection of essays, pictures and documents on the oil industry’s impact on the Ecuadorian natural environment. This is coupled with a CD with 34 recordings in one track from the Ecuadorian rainforest (the whole work is part of the Field Recording Series by Gruenrekorder). It progresses from delightful natural sounds to industrial machines slowly disrupting them. Then reading, meanwhile, some testimonies or a detailed chronology perfectly let this whole suppressed world to (painfully in every sense) re-emerge from its current status. The pervasive “black”, eventually, doesn’t hide anymore, but becomes the mandatory colour to engage with, in order to learn and understand what has been hidden, but must now be revealed.