Review: Wind Tide – Sound from Focused and Found Routines (self-released, Jan 4)

By this point I’ve witnessed a number of (but never enough) sound installations of all shapes, sizes, and substances, plenty of good and plenty of bad and a select amount of great just like any realm of art, but one thing they all have in common with one another is the creation of a new ambience. No matter how simple or quiet or minuscule its contribution is to its surroundings, no matter how much this “new ambience” mostly just comprises the old one, the soundscape is necessarily altered and—often beautifully—remade. And this is certainly the case for Focused and Found Routines, a performance-based piece by Littlefield, TX duo Wind Tide using various sound materials “moved around the gallery space over the course of the evening.” This release presents a 45-minute audio recording of the opening performance for the piece, a languid slice of abstract, hypnotic tedium that returns to the sublime discreet clatter of Journal 2020 after a few releases I wasn’t much into. Throughout the ambling drift, the raw synths squeal incessant smoke-swirls of piercing frequencies into empty space, the space that isn’t occupied by whatever is the sound of rushing water, and what sounds like at least a few radios (with some of the best grabs I’ve heard to boot) and old doorbells and small motors, and—a whole sink, that someone’s doing dishes in? And a blender? A microwave? I have no idea what the specific objects are, or if they were even actually in the room or just previously recorded, but nonetheless their cumulative semiotic aura is easily identifiable: this is domesticity displaced, the intimacies of home rendered in disassembled yet sensible form for . . . what? Examination? Appreciation? Both? Not all sound installations offer a just-as-compelling audio-only experience, but even then there’s always the alluring, unsolvable mystery of the gap in perception, the not-welcome question of “what did I miss?” to keep you occupied. And then this one. Wow. Have I mentioned that I love this band? I love this band.

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