EarthEar's newest artist collaboration release features sounds recorded near Panama City, in a former military base turned open space. Educator and sound artists Jay Needham has been traveling there for several years, working with local residents to raise awareness of this nearby landscape through listening and recording. He has this to say about the project:
As a sound artist, I have been creating a series of artworks that interweave themes relating to borders, and issues concerning natural spaces that are currently or were formerly occupied by military forces. Several years ago, I began working with ecologist and land use planner Andrew Carver, who was studying wildlife populations in Panama and supporting a local grass-roots environmental organization’s efforts to transform a one thousand-acre tract of abandoned U.S. Department of Defense land along the Panama Canal into an ecological reserve.
The Association Panamericana para la Concervacion (APPC), led by environmental activist Nestor Correa, has fought hard for government approval to set aside this tract of land as a public rainforest park. Known now as EcoParque Panama, the land had been kept off-limits since 1911 as an ammunition bunker complex for the former Rodman Naval Base. In 2000, the canal and surrounding lands including the naval base were reverted to Panamanian ownership. Its 20 kilometers of roads and sixty concrete bunkers all resided inside a fenced compound characterized by rolling hills and tree canopies reaching 35 meters. The landscape is very unique in that it contains thousands of plant species and hundreds of birds and mammal species even though it is adjacent to the sprawling urbanization of Panama City. Endangered wildlife species inhabiting the site include jaguars, anteaters and titi monkeys. The space and its politics are unique culturally because of the inherited and somewhat hermetic outcome that resulted in the creation of a now rare and valued landscape.
In January of 2007, I was invited to Panama by Carver and Correa to record the sounds of EcoParque Panama. Upon arrival in Panama, my initial meetings with the APPC staff centered on defining the several kinds of collaborations that could take place between us. Rather than making art alongside or as a visiting artist with this organization, I sought a different relationship; a longer and more lasting one that may assist in promoting change outside artworks I may author.
As a result,we are releasing a CD of field recordings made between 2007 and 2008. Ecosonidos de Panama Verano Tropical has been produced in collabroation between myself, the APPC and Earth Ear Records. I am really excited to have worked on this project and all of the funds from sales will be used to establish an artist residency in Panama.
The tracks take follow a summer day, with each focusing on a key part of the local soundscape:
1. Howler monkeys before dawn (Monos aulladores antes del amanecer) 4:55
2. Morning (En la mañana) 4:27
3. Bamboo Grove (Bamboos) 4:04
4. Stream in the forest (Secuencia en el Bosque) 4:16
5. Cicadas at twilight (Cigarras al atardecer) 6:17
6. Night (Noche) 8:09
See this paper about the Panama project, written by Jay Needham for the WFAE's journal Soundscape.
AUDIO SAMPLES >
Morning (En la mañana)
Cicadas at twilight (Cigarras al atardecer)