This is the first of four discs Feld will be producing on the social and musical roles that bells play in cultures worldwide. Released on his own new label VoxLox, in collaboration with EarthEar, this volume turns an ear toward the ways that bells frame daily, seasonal, and cultural time in the small villages of Europe. The first track begins with almost dainty sheep bells, returning from the hills at the end of the day, while a funeral toll rings in the village; the effect of the bells is reminiscent of tree frog choruses. A track from Finland presents a Sunday morning soundscape, with a pair of bells calling the faithful, an old organ offering an aural shift of tone, and then following some congregants to the neighboring cemetary, where they sing some hymns as bells, birds, and cars frame the acoustic space. Next we hear a Greek festival, centered on the sounds of belled costumes, with music of bagpipes and frame drums raising the energy even more; the mad cacophany is somehow rather gentle in its overall effect, perhaps thanks to the expanded sound field, only ocassionally highlighted by a nearby outburst as a dancer sweeps by.
The second half of the disc consists of a "French Village Suite" centered on the ringing of the Angelus, a thrice-daily call to prayer. The first segment features the morning sound of a small agricultural village, including cars, tractors, and TV soundtracks murmering from inside buildings. Next is a seaside village during a bustling summer noon, with two different churches ringing the angelus. And finally, a flock of belled cows accompany the evening angelus in a mountain town, and the disc closes with the evening rhythms of grillons (night crickets), humming street lights, and Feld's pulse as picked up by his temple-mounted mics.
By focusing in on such a historically dominant soundmark as bells, and exploring deeply into the social importance and sonic beauties they hold, Feld is creating a remarkable series that reflects the heart of acoustic ecology, spun within a musically creative curiosity.
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