A Sound Map of the Housatonic River. ANNEA LOCKWOOD
Review by Cheryl Tipp
‘A Sound Map of the Housatonic River’ is the latest instalment in Annea Lockwood’s river series. Four beautifully composed pieces trace the course of the Housatonic and in doing so reveal the subtle intricacies in the sonic flavour of this 224 km river that begins in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts and terminates at Milford, Long Island Sound in Connecticut.
Lockwood’s first foray into charting the course of a river from source to mouth came about in 1981 when she was commissioned to create a sound map of the Hudson River. Then, in 2001, another river project emerged, this time in the form of the Danube. With ‘A Sound Map of the Danube’ (Lovely Music 2008), field recordings were mixed with interview excerpts. As Lockwood explains in ‘In the Field: the art of field recording’, developing the project made her realise that “we need to recognise how deeply integrated we are with our environment”. One way of recognising this was to include the thoughts of people who were connected with the river, either professionally or personally. This concept is mirrored in more recent works, such as Luis Antero’s ‘O Rio / The River’ (Impulsive Habitat 2012) and Virgilio Oliveira’s ‘Rio Douro’ series (Green Field Recordings 2012).
With ‘A Sound Map of the Housatonic River’, Lockwood returns to her original approach and focuses on the fluvial nature of this extensive body of water. Relationships with the river are not completely ignored however, as we see with track 2 which features the songs and calls of wildlife that make their homes along the waterside. The sounds of birds and amphibians always sit well against the gentle trickle of running water and for me this adds another welcomed dimension to the story of this river.
Looking at the accompanying insert, which includes a handy map pinpointing the various recording locations, we see that 20 individual field recordings have been used to create the four pieces. These carefully chosen recordings bring with them a level of variety that ranges from placid to gushing and at times even dips below the surface. If you’re a fan of field recordings dedicated to the many sounds of water then this one is definitely for you.
“Listening to the river and re-experiencing the river’s flow can bring it into your being and remind you of its nature and its being”
[Annea Lockwood: photo courtesy of Annea Lockwood]