Review: Arturas Bumšteinas – Amazon Fishing with Yahoos (sirr-ecords, Jan 17)

Of the select few musical works out there that aim to vividly capture the mundanity of human existence, even fewer accomplish the task with as much simultaneous specificity and eclecticism as Lithuanian sound researcher Arturas Bumšteinas’s new release Amazon Fishing with Yahoos. Interestingly, both seemingly contradictory qualities originate in the limited focus of the work’s source material: “soundtracks of various Youtube videos of tourists fishing in Amazon river,” along with occasional instrumental intrusions. In other words, if you’re like me and don’t know much about fishing, your brain will spend much of its time, at least on the first time through, trying to pick out the sonic signatures of the pastime, but in the process it is rendered vulnerable to the surreal or unexpected, of which Bumšteinas has mined plenty from his supply of “virtual-field-recordings”: okay, that’s the sound of someone reeling in the line, the boat’s creaking and— wait, was that a noise from Minecraft? Now gas motor growls in concert with droning high-pitched flute and koto? Sure, why not. Amidst the restless soundscape that is not quite cinéma pour l’oreille, not quite phonography, and not quite collage (it’s too strangely fluid), one’s mind is restricted to the liminal perceptive space between watching footage of an activity and actually doing it (in this case, fishing) while Bumšteinas’s creative and endlessly unpredictable arrangements run circles around it in its confused state. Hilarious, wholesome, mildly disturbing, inexplicably addictive, and ultimately life-affirming, as these sorts of things so often are. Another amazing and singular release from sirr-ecords, and an abstract audio-documentary for the ages.

Also, I swear I hear the guitar harmonics from the intro to Yes’s “Roundabout” around 25 minutes in.