Sceneries from the Castellated Wall. YASUHIRO MORINAGA
(Galverna 2012)

Using words to describe sound can often be anathema to the emotional experience of listening, our reactions to sound existing beyond the mental processes used by our everyday lexicon. This fact is clear when listening to “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall”, a sonic tribute to imagined landscapes and time by Japanese sound designer Yasuhiro Morinaga. Implementing field recordings from the streets of Ireland and Sicily’s Ear of Dionysius Morinaga effectively uses sound to build territories both real and mythological, from the past and present, in what could be considered one of the most intriguing releases of 2012.

“For La Donnaccia”, the first of three tracks, is Morinaga’s homage to a little known film of the same name by Silvio Siano. The film, set in a village suspended in air, is ripe for sonic exploration. A faint ethereal drone is juxtaposed with the quiet rural sounds of cowbells, birds, sheep and cattle, allowing the listener’s imagination to run free. Morinaga’s village is as serene as the air in which it floats, an Arcadian scene that is difficult to leave behind. The deceptively simple use of field recordings in this track illustrate the power of sound in creating imaginative landscapes in which we might all wish to reside. To Morinaga’s credit his composition complements Siano’s film without foregoing his own aesthetic.

“Parade”, the second and longest track, moves to a more concrete world. By modifying field recordings taken in Londonderry Morinaga constructs an imagined landscape from the sounds of this real city. Smooth waves of processed sounds create an atmosphere reminiscent of a city late at night, the streets desolate and thick with fog. As the track nears its end recordings of birds and a female voice briefly appear, bringing a more ambient edge to the soundscape. This section serves as a bridge to the more electronic beats which bring the track to a close.

The final track, “Ear of Dionysius”, uses various techniques of sound design to present a moment Morinaga experienced within this natural acoustic chamber. The Ear of Dionysius, a limestone cave on the island of Sicily, is shaped in the form of a human ear. The acoustics in its space are said to be so acute that political dissidents were held there under the reign of Dionysius I (432-367 BC) in order to monitor their whispered conspiracies. The acoustics were also said to carry the screams of the tortured prisoners throughout the cave. Enveloped in these ancient stories Morinaga’s choice of subject neatly fits within his exploration of real and mythological spaces, bringing “Sceneries from a Castellated Wall” to a perfect end.

There is something romantic and whimsical about “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall”, yet the mastery of Morinaga’s work is completely solid. At no point does the tension of each composition waver. Morinaga’s background in film has honed his skills in projecting images through sound, an admirable feat and one that has set a precedent to future sound designers. “Sceneries from the Castellated Wall” is the second official release from the new Galaverna catalogue, a valuable addition to the world of field recording and sound design.

[Yasuhiro Morinaga, photo author Leandro Pisano -all rights reserved-]

-Jay Dea Lopez

Yasuhiro Morinaga website
Galaverna website