Review: Shuta Hiraki – Across the Empty Lot (Falt, Jun 9)

Apathetic, disastrous scourges on the planet though they are, human-made urban sprawls have the ability to produce some truly gorgeous sounds. On Across the Empty Lot, Japanese sound artist Shuta Hiraki documents two occasions of astute, attentive environmental listening, in practice simply capturing construction on a bridge and its surroundings but in actuality immortalizing a sublime instance of natural harmony. The  unprocessed presentations that span the two sides of Across the Empty Lot are dominated by a persistent tonal drone that weaves itself through auxiliary intrusions of rustling leaves, chirping birds, distant voices, and the clatter of the construction itself. Similar to Ludwig Berger’s work Cargo, the spatial resonance of industrial processes (in this case, cement mixers) at a distance creates this almost organ-like hum, which provides an unexpected yet undeniable musical backbone for the other elements that appear in the recordings. Though already far from a trivial field recording, the meditative, calming effect of Across the Empty Lot is amplified by Hiraki’s faithful conveyance of such a beautiful sonic event.