(self release 2012)

Phonographic works that concentrate on a particular type of sound are by no means uncommon. Rivers, waves, rainfall, birdsong, deer, whales and insects are just a few examples of recording subjects that have been the focal point of many a release. ‘Ossenfeld’, from Christoph Petermann and Hardy Küster, climbs a few more steps up the esoteric ladder by presenting the listener with a 30 minute piece dedicated to the infinite sounds of stones.

Few details are available about the content or context of the work; other than the title, location details and the one line description ‘explores the sounds of stones’, we are left with nothing other than the actual sound. Perhaps this was deliberate; with no written information to aid us, our full attention is transferred onto the audio where we can try to glean as much information as possible from the sounds put in front of us.

There is certainly something captivating about ‘Ossenfeld’. The recording quality is first class and the sounds, recorded in a quarry in Germany, are so clear and crisp that you can almost visualize the recordists at work, experimenting with different movements and textures.

This publication is not just a stone fest though – tune your ears into the background and you will be rewarded with glimmers of birdsong. A Yellowhammer plaintively asking for “A little bit of bread and no cheese”, an overhead Skylark showering the quarry with its unbroken song, cawing crows and other nearby birds add a biological element to this work.

I admire Petermann and Küster’s embrace of the esoteric. To create a piece that is dominated by the sounds of stones in a quarry could not be described as anything else. It illustrates the desire of field recordists to constantly explore new sources of sound and not shy away from those topics that may be considered to lie outside the “norm”.

[Christoph Petermann, photo: Utku Tavil]

-Cheryl Tipp

Christoph Petermann discography

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.