(LEA 2012)

‘Omiyage’ is the Japanese word for souvenir; for something that will serve as a lasting memento of a particular time or place. We usually think of a souvenir as being something physical and visual; a trinket purchased in a gift shop perhaps, or a collection of photographs taken over the course of the stay.

Field recordist Raül Fuentes has taken a slightly different approach when collecting memories of his travels, preferring instead to use the medium of sound. His recent LEA publication, ‘Omiyage’, is absolutely brimming with audio snapshots made during 2011. Over the course of 45 minutes we are presented with a plethora of different recordings from Italy, Spain, France, Indonesia and China. All are woven together to form a rich tapestry which definitely keeps you on your toes when it comes to listening. With so much sonic variety and a fast pace, this publication is not really suited to background listening. It deserves ones full attention. You will get the most out of ‘Omiyage’ by simply taking the time to listen.

At a guess, I would say there are well over 40 different recordings featured in this sound work. All are of the highest quality. I also like the way the recordings have been aligned and subtly mixed to create a piece that really flows. To give just a little insight into the content, you can expect to experience both urban and rural soundscapes that represent natural as well as manmade sounds. Transport systems, church interiors, insects, waves, conversations, families at the beach, birdsong, running water and music are just a few examples. Like I said earlier, ‘Omiyage’ is brimming with content.

One of my favourite sections is from within a church. A male voice comes over the tanoy. “Ssshhhh. Silenzio. Ssshhh. Silenzio per favore. Silence. Ssshhh. Silence please.” Then the choir begins to sing. There is something quite beautiful about this fragment of the composition and I find myself returning to it again and again.

If you’re looking for something which takes you on an undefined acoustic journey across a range of different environments, surroundings and situations, then ‘Omiyage’ is definitely a publication for you.

[Raül Fuentes, photo courtesy of LEA]

-Cheryl Tipp

Raül Fuentes website
LEA website

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.