(LEA 2012) 

‘La Tierruca’ is a wonderful montage of field recordings made in the Cantabria region of northern Spain by Juan Pablo Martinez. Martinez writes in the accompanying notes that the aim of the composition was to capture those sounds that resonated with him on a purely personal level. This tiny snippet of information gives so much to the listening experience. You are aware that these recordings were not collected purely for their sonic interest alone. There is a deeper meaning behind the selection that reflects the influence of sound on a man’s life.

Over the course of 45 minutes, ‘La Tierruca’ takes the listener on a journey through a range of different field recordings. The balance here is very effective; there is enough variation to keep the listener engaged, yet not too much so that you feel as if you’re running from one recording to the next. This is more of a marathon rather than a 100m sprint, but a very enjoyable marathon all the same!

Water is the dominating element and regularly surfaces throughout the course of the piece. Waves throwing their weight against sea cliffs, the patter of gentle rain and slapping water against cave walls are just a few examples of what to expect.

The pace of the composition gradually changes as we approach the end. The beginning seems more charged with energy; mechanical sounds, a plane overhead, and a motor boat contribute to this feeling. Even the water seems aggressive somehow. This energy is soon dispersed though, moving us into more tranquil environs. A peaceful, rural soundscape takes over.

A marching band towards the end of the piece is an unexpected but effective addition. Martinez refers to the power of music in uniting people and this segment conjures up images of joyful town gatherings. La Tierruca gently fades out on the sound of light rain which seems the perfect way to conclude this acoustic journey.

The high level of thought, technical ability and compositional skill behind ‘La Tierruca’ is obvious and the more I listen to the piece, the more impressed I become. This a beautifully crafted audio tour of locations and landscapes which have clearly inspired and nurtured the recordist in a multitude of different ways.

-Cheryl Tipp

Juan Pablo Martinez website
LEA website

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.