Colony. HIROKI SASAJIMA
(Impulsive Habitat 2012)

I rarely come across an audio publication that dedicates its content to the sounds of insects, so for me ‘Colony’ was like a breath of fresh air. Hiroki Sasajima spent three years recording insects in a range of locations and this final compilation demonstrates both his technical ability and acute sensitivity as a recordist to his acoustic environment.

Each recording possesses its own signature sound and there is much variety between tracks, which keeps the listening experience fresh and engaging. Hearing the insects in the context of their immediate surroundings is another reason why ‘Colony’ works so well. The background of each recording provides an essential layer to the soundscape and helps create the overall atmosphere.

At times the sounds are incredibly intense and one can only imagine what it must be like to experience this in the field. The energy contained within these signals is almost tangible and you can’t help but admire the endurance and sonic power of these small creatures.

‘Colony’ also exposes the listener to the natural rhythms of insect communication. When thinking of musicality in nature, most would automatically turn their thoughts to birdsong, but other animal groups, especially insects and amphibians, also demonstrate a high degree of regularity and rhythm.

There is no information on the species featured in these recordings, which leads me to wonder how Sasajima approached the project. Did he compile a checklist of “star” insects that were gradually tracked down?  Or was he simply inspired by the sounds he heard and decided to record them purely on the merits of their interest, structure and relationship with the surrounding environment? I may be wrong but I get the feeling that it’s the latter.

This collection of field recordings is a wonderful homage to the complexity and beauty of sound communication in insects. Sasajima has an innate affinity with the natural world and successfully uses sound as a medium for sharing his obvious love for natural environments. ‘Colony’ is another fine example of this longstanding relationship and comes highly recommended.

-Cheryl Tipp

Hiroki Sasajima website
Impulsive Habitat website