Murmer Atilio

(Very Quiet 2013)

Review by Chris Whitehead

The dérive  as envisaged by Guy Debord is not a meaningless wander governed by chance. It is directed by decisions made by the participant who chooses the route according to psychogeographical currents, whatever they might be. Originally particularly appropriate to urban environments with clear lines of movement and directions of flow, the derivé is a technique of discovery that can seemingly be adapted to many situations.

This is a download release under the Very Quiet Records imprint, a label that has devoted itself to intriguing and varied explorations of low volume listening. Murmer is by no means the quietest of their catalogue. Others have focused on the sound of a freezing microphone or the arid, unpopulated desert of Australia for example, but Doreste’s recordings are of the lush, breathing forests of Tenerife.

Forever the wind is the primary motif. Birds call and hinges creak, we travel with Doreste across the terrain and our ears meet new atmospheres, but all within this universe of air which permeates everything. I am reminded of Andrei Tarkovsy’s film Mirror: A progressive wave disturbs the crops and moves through the field as a portent or natural manifestation of psychological change. Wind cannot be seen, but it reveals itself by reacting with physical objects: Trees, twigs, leaves which it brushes past like a ghost.

The climate of the Canary Islands is moderated by these north easterly trade winds, known locally by the name Alisios. They, together with the cool Canary current, maintain a comfortable temperature a few degrees lower than might be expected at the latitude. This lack of extremes allows many micro-climates to coexist, and the dérives employed here move through soundscapes as a visitor might move through the rooms of a large house.

Atilio Doreste pulls away from the traffic of the island and into the forest beneath the gently whispering leaves. The sound from the road peters out and we enter a new place, as if beneath a surface and enveloped by moving air, a tide of wind ebbs and flows and Doreste breathes heavily as the effort of his derive becomes apparent. By not erasing the sound of his footsteps, the clink and clatter of equipment and the unzipping of garments or other pieces of kit, the artist is placing himself in the landscape audibly and without apology. In his words ‘I accept my own impact on the site and reveal the reality of the creative process’.

By its very nature this method relies on physical movement, climbing, walking, breathing, direction, reaction, motion. The recordist is the conduit through which the subtle events that determine the pattern of the drift are filtered, therefore to leave him out of the finished edit would be disingenuous.

There are two tracks here, each one around 15 minutes in length. the first from Anaga Natural Park and the second from Meriga Dam, La Gomera. Listening to these honest, pure recordings has a cleansing effect leaving a cooling, invigorating impression. As Atilio Doreste says, ‘We choose and create the boundaries of our sonic environment’.


[Atilio Doreste]

Atilio Doreste website
Very Quiet website

Chris Whitehead

Sound artist.