Review: Ourson – Collected Natures III: Lo-Fi Recordings of Personal Space (Psøma Psi Phi, Jan 29)

Listening to field recordings isn’t just about experiencing the sounds of places you may never visit. When captured well, the intangible energy of an environment or space is palpable in a recording, and this is especially the case when the places that are being represented are of particular significance to the phonographer. Whether or not every single extract on Collected Natures III represents a space that holds personal importance for Luke Hazard, also known as Ourson, is unclear, but it certainly feels that way. The set spans over three hours and is split into as many discs, titled “Home,” “Away,” and “Night,” respectively, and each piece is dominated by the calming hiss of a low fidelity analog recording, making even the most invasive noises, such as the whizzing by of cars or the grumble of an airplane engine, adopt much more calming visages. Especially in the third disc, the tracks are very quiet, forcing a meditative level of focus on behalf of the listener not unlike Jürg Frey’s lowercase masterpiece Weites Land, Tiefe Zeit: Räume 1-8 (which I wrote about here). Hazard himself is also often present in the background of his captured soundscapes, and some of the most quietly impactful moments of Collected Natures III come at the end of a track when we hear him walking up to stop the recording, like on “Wind, Uninterrupted,” which is ironically interrupted by what sounds like the sliding of a screen door and clunking footsteps. Not only is each soundscape gorgeous on its own, but Hazard ensures that each one is contained within its own world, that each one is an established space.

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