In the wake. TERJE PAULSEN
(Impulsive Habitat 2013)

 Review by Cheryl Tipp

‘In the Wake’ by Terje Paulsen is the 73rd release from Impulsive Habitat and has been occupying my ears for the past couple of months. I’ve been struggling to translate my enthusiasm for the piece into words though; all I really want to say is “it’s great, go and have a listen!”

The concept is incredibly simple. As Paulsen says, “In the wake of 20.000 lightning strikes that hit southern Norway on May 18th, the sounds from a construction site took all my attention…” And this is exactly what we hear; those wonderful percussive interactions between the passing storm and the various objects that collectively define the location. Rumbling thunder watches over these exchanges between nature and urbanisation, occasionally making its presence audible as if commenting on the events taking place below.

There is consistency as well as change here; sounds shift and evolve in reaction to the movements and mood of the tempest overhead, yet the overall atmosphere remains much the same. This forces us to listen more closely and not be fooled by the seemingly unwavering conditions. As R. Murray Schafer wrote in his seminal text ‘The Soundscape: our sonic environment and the tuning of the world’ – “No two raindrops sound alike, as the attentive ear will detect.”









Water can be the source of an endless stream (no pun intended) of unique sonic creations that depend on how it interacts with itself as well as how it interacts with other obstacles that cross its path. Again I turn to the words of Schafer who said “Water never dies and the wise man rejoices in it.” Perhaps it’s this limitless potential that draws so many recordists, male and female, to water, whether that be rainfall, rivers or oceans. Sadly we can’t control the weather but Paulsen’s ‘In the Wake’ makes you dearly wish for a thunderstorm to experiment with. It reminds us of the endless possibilities that nature offers the recordist and for that we can be very thankful.


[Terje Paulsen; photo courtesy of Impulsive Habitat]

Terje Paulsen website
Impulsive Habitat website

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.