Accompanying the shutdown of the many aspects of daily life in New York, a rare quietness has fallen over the city. This collection of field recordings are some of my favorite sounds of the city as we knew them: of the city as we knew them: of the city as we knew them: punchy bucket drummers, squeal of car breaks, fragments of conversations, lethargic truck hauls, juxtaposition of subway musicians, late-night HVAC ambiances...They are exciting, loud, and endlessly restless, but also almost empty at moments.
Two recordings I’m most fond of are: Five Genres at Union Square and Columbus Circle Jazz / Lost at Time Square-42nd St. In these recordings I have walked around while recording so as to mix the sound of musicians against each other and against other sounds in the station. At times, their rhythms and harmonies blend in coherence. At other times, the beat fades into the rhythm of the trains. Sometimes, they just fade away, and then you hear the “shape” of the station. These are the types of moments that a field recording can capture and frame, revealing the ways that sound changes in the city’s presence.
This current period of life has also added a new soundmark to the city: the collective expression of gratitude to those on the front line everyday. The penultimate track, 7 o'clock, was recorded last month in Sunnyside, Queens (where I live) features the flurry of appreciation to health care and essential workers.
Putting together this album and listening to all the familiar sounds has brought me some calm. I hope it for the listeners it will be a steadfast reminder that the city will recover and return to its unabashed pandemonium and grow a new understanding for the complex and beautiful sounds surrounding us.
Ian Battenfield Headley is a NYC-based composer. His music has been described as, exploring the, ”Beautiful dichotomies
between organic recordings and processed sounds,” (Weird Ear Records), and “...strikingly visceral, three-dimensional...” (New Music Box)....more