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The Art of Field Recording, Vol. 2
In November 2007, Atlanta's Dust-to-Digital Records released The Art of Field Recording, Vol. 1 , a sweeping, 4xCD collection of field recordings assembled by the folklorist and visual artist Art Rosenbaum. Rosenbaum's considerable personal collection (which spans a half-century, contains thousands of hours of tape, and is supplemented by Rosenbaum's own photographs, paintings, and drawings) demanded more than just four discs; Dust-to-Digital plotted a second volume in response. Vol. 2 follows the same basic organizing principle as its predecessor: The four discs are arranged by theme (Survey, Religious, Accompanied Songs and Ballads, Unaccompanied Songs and Ballads), and are comprised exclusively of field recordings, provoked and captured in living rooms, churches, front porches, backyards, graveyards, and parlors across the Southeast, Midwest, and Canada.
Without discounting the participants' musicianship, the real pleasure of these boxes is in the peripheral noise, the clinks, rustles, guffaws, giggles, and snorts of ordinary life, the self-composed and self-delivered introductions, the soft-spoken folklorist nudging from the corner-- that's the true and precious miracle of field recording. We now know, for example, that there exists no more sublime a preface to "Steamboat Bill" than Iowan Jack Bean-- in his deep, gnarly, slightly-too-loud voice-- barking "My name is Jack Bean, I live in Wapello, I'm 70 years old, and I'm a half-assed musician. Or was." This is how folk music functions; this is what it means. It is as real as anything.