For years, I made the mistake of treating field recordings as a sub-genre of experimental music. That was due to me conflating the work of, say, Chris Watson (the natural sound recordist who once worked with Cabaret Voltaire and the Hafler Trio) or my old acquaintance Francisco López, and mixing the genres together without giving it too much thought. That was my mistake. Field recordings should be regarded as a genre unto itself, even if elements of other music make their way into these compositions. Nature, one’s home, an empty space, a road filled with automobiles or a beehive are treated as musical instruments. It’s particularly edifying when the artist gives you the privilege of allowing the listener to enter the world he or she inhabits.
The maestro responsible for Rabbits, Jeff Gburek, makes his 7th appearance on this blog. His latest work makes his field recordings and even the venues he recorded at (Gdansk, Poland, Dublin, Ireland and the island of Bali, Indonesia, according to his notes which are posted below) pulsate with life. This new work isn’t merely an intellectual exercise – it is truly an absorbing experience, one I’ve come to expect from him, and he has never disappointed me. He also finds a way to make experimental music relevant.
There is a presence floating in this work. Before Gburek went on tour recently, the legendary percussionist and performance artist Z’ev had passed away. The listener can hear his influence in the percussive parts of these recordings, and there is a very powerful part of Rabbits 1 which left me somewhat baffled as to what it was. It turns out to be a Native American medicine song, which adds a profound flavor to this piece.
I highly recommend purchasing the album, as not only are the three Rabbits tracks intriguing listening, but there is a fourth track you receive as part of your download. It takes a slightly different trajectory, and it fills out the album nicely.