(Fieldcraft 2011) 

Frick Pond is a fine collection of three natural soundscapes recorded in Willowemoc Wild Forest, New York State, by American-based field recordist David Michael. Situated on the southern side of the Catskill Mountains, Willowemoc is a large expanse of forest preserve containing a network of ponds. For this release, Michael chose to focus on one small body of water, Frick Pond, with the intention of capturing events that one would not usually experience. To achieve this, recording rigs were deployed just before sunset on 8th August 2010 and left unattended overnight. This method must generate a certain excitement and anticipation in the recordist as you are completely relying on nature to work its magic.

The first two tracks – ‘Midnight with a Visitor & Coyotes’ and ‘A Subdued Dawn Chorus’ – possess some beautiful stereo imagery. In the first track we hear gentle lapping as an animal pauses for a drink, the sound of a Raccoon stopping to eat a tasty morsel and the continued presence of howling Coyotes, gradually making their way across the mountain. The second track has some wonderful sections, especially the passage containing wing flaps as birds flit through nearby foliage.

The final track focuses on Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, recorded after collecting the equipment that had been left out the night before. I simply adore this track. Hummingbirds are one of my favourites, so to be able to listen to such a high quality recording of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds is a treat. The delicate buzzing of wings as they dart around a group of flowering bushes is wonderful and at times it almost feels as if they are hovering next to your ears. An understated background of other bird species and the occasional fly gives the piece added depth.

Overall, Frick Pond is a subtle affair. There is nothing extravagant about the three soundscapes but I like the simplicity of each piece. The senses are calmed rather than overwhelmed and the combined effect is unassuming rather than invasive. Periods of relative silence are interspersed with bouts of increased activity with just the right balance. I’ve listened to this publication several times now and each time I discover something new which I missed before. Frick Pond invites rather than demands and definitely does justice to the genre of natural field recording.

-Cheryl Tipp

David Michael website
Fieldcraft discography

Cheryl Tipp

Wildlife sounds curator at British Library.