Chris Watson - Outside the Circle of Fire

CD - 22 Tracks

The purr of a leopard close up against a baobab tree, waiting. Whales surfacing, breathing in cold air. Coll starling imitate the noise of farm machinery from the hollow ring of a ruined bothy. The rattle of wood over a black stream... Chris Watson's second CD is a dramatic contrast to the spacious atmospheres of "Stepping into the Dark" (Touch TO:27, 1996). Featuring 22 close-up recordings of animals, birds and insect life, "Outside the Circle of Fire" enlarges our awareness of the sound universe, intimate with voices from the past. There is an intensity here that television pictures cannot conjure.

Akin, IRDIAL:

"An exhilarating journey into nature's most private sonic ceremonies. Dreamily voyeuristic. Mysterious, perplexing, shocking and beautiful all at once. The Jaguar will destroy you."

1. WAITING

Close up against a baobab tree, a cheetah, waiting...

2. BREATHING IN COLD AIR

Breathing in cold air, Southern Right Whale

3. HORSE OF THE WOODS

Capull coille,'horse of the Caledonian woods'

4. SONG

Red rumped tinkerbird song

5. AT DUSK

The Maasai say hippos spend the day on the river bed telling jokes. At dusk they surface, laughing

6. WINTER FLAGS

Winter Flags on a spring tide. 20 000 knot find a roost

7. MACHINE NOISE

In the hollow ring of a ruined bothy, a starling mimics the noise of farm machinery

8. CANOPY

Dry topical contact calls follow spider monkeys through the canopy

9. SONG

Lemon rumped tinkerbird song

10. ACROSS THE IRIS BEDS

An evening chorus of corncrakes across the iris beds

11.THREAT

A lioness threatens

12. CRACKING VISCERA

Vultures taste the dry, crackling viscera inside the rib cage of a zebra carcass

13. DEEP ROAR

The deep roar of a red deer stag

14. UNKNOWN FOREST

Unknown forest duet

15. OUT OF OUR SIGHT

Out of our sight, motionless anticipation, along the dry sandy banks of the Zambesi a mozambique nightjar is sucking in all the remaining light

16. LEAF LITTER

Leaf litter insect detail

17. SOULS OF DEAD CHILDREN

The souls of dead children are said to pass into kittiwakes

18. FOREST FIRE

Wood pigeon wings across a forest ride

19. SLEEPING IN WARM AIR

Elephants, sleeping in warm air

20. RATTLE OF WOOD

Deathwatch beetles, the rattle of wood over a black stream

21. MOONLIT FOG

Tawny owls sing in moonlit fog

22. CONTACTS

Hyena contacts

Reviews:

Aquarius (USA):

Chris Watson's amazing second album of field recordings. Super up-close and personal intimate recordings of wildlife and insects. Essential.

When it comes to the art of field recordings, Chris Watson is in a realm all of his own. As much as we love the Sittelle series (i.e. The Inaudible World - A Sound Guide Of The French Bats, Rutting Red Deer, and Pastoral Bells), Watson still stands quietly alone, so unique in what he is able to do with a microphone in a natural setting. So great is his work that the acclaimed naturalist Sir David Attenborough sequested Watson for recording on his breathtaking BBC series The Life of Birds and Life in the Undergrowth. Watson's history also separates him from many naturalists who have come to field recording or engineers who like being out in the woods, as Watson began his career as a founding member of Cabaret Voltaire and later established The Hafler Trio with Andrew McKenzie. In both cases, the provocative use of sound required a considerable fastidiousness in order to express the convoluted ideas (especially for The Hafler Trio) through the ephemerality of sound. It's been said that Outside The Circle Of Fire was the best electro-acoustic record that was never made, and that's a fair assessment. This album was Watson's second solo recording made back in 1998 and has recently been repressed. This features 22 recordings of various animals in their indigenous locales. The opening track of a cheetah purring is a sublimely intimate recording, in which the rasping ur-drones can easily be mistaken for the bowed minimalism of Taj Mahal Travellers or Organum expect for the fact that these sounds originate from an animal that wouldn't think twice about killing you. Similarly, the male capercallie display could be confused for a musique concrete piece by Pierre Henry or Luc Ferrari with its dynamic movement and expressive bouts of noise. Other notable creatures that Watson records are the Hippopotami (which make sounds as cute as the animals are large), a southern right whale surfacing off the coast of Argentina, and curious clatter from deathwatch beetles. Quite simply stunning.



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Chris Watson - Outside the Circle of Fire


MP3 sample

Track 20:  Deathwatch Beatles



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