Norman W. Long: BLACK BROWN GRAY GREEN (Hausu Mountain, 2021)

October 14, 2021 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment


Norman W. Long, a member of Angel Bat Dawid & Tha Brotherhood and longtime Chicago-area musician, gathers sounds from his environment and transforms them into immersive audio pieces, with the help of semi-modular synths and effects. This album starts out with a 23-minute live piece, “Southeast”, recorded at Experiental Sound Studio in 2019. It seems to start out simply enough with layers of chirping crickets and chirping birds, but soon the noises are twisted and granulated, with blips and glitches sputtering out, making it harder for your mind’s eye to picture a natural scene, making it appear like an image projected from a malfunctioning DVD player. Eventually it gets doused with sheets of disorienting static which sounds like audio acid rain. After some bells and other samples get shaped into a knocking, percussive rhythm, it all gets swept up and blurred, turning into a bewildering aural storm. “Marsh Filter” is a short piece that takes a seemingly uneventful field recording and manipulates some dripping and humming sounds into a mind-bending flurry, like raindrops somehow shooting in all directions at once. “Reeds” essentially seems like layers of scraping or skating, but there’s something musical about the way the higher pitches tones glimmer in. “Essential/Sacrificial(Worksong)” consists of thick layers of crickets, frogs, and birds, suggesting nature reclaiming the earth, although there’s a faint whirring of passing automobiles in the background. The title alludes to those who had no choice but to work during the pandemic, leaving themselves vulnerable to COVID-19. The lockdown allowed Long to spend much time recording sounds along his local nature trail. “Recovering Landscape Community” is a longer piece which seems to have less human interference than the others, seemingly suggesting tranquility, although there’s traces of a storm rumbling in the distance.

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