MYSTERY SEA 68 | David Velez | [Bay ridge]


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"This release refers to the period of time between late spring of 2009 and winter of 2010. A period of time where I lived quite close from the sea, something that never happened before. At that moment water was an existing element in my work but when I moved to Brooklyn, where I was surrounded by water and where a maritime tradition prevails, water unexpectedly became the main subject of my sound work.

The spring of 2009 happened to be particularly rainy and that forced me to stay at home where I recorded hours of the white noise-like sound of pouring rain hitting the concrete floor outside my window In the other hand the summer was very hot and dry so I went to the beach and to a pier close to my house very often to get some cool breeze and there I recorded the soothing sounds of the breaking waves. On the fall I often visited abandoned maritime areas for photographic register; during those trips I found many sounds that turned out to be quite interesting to record as well.

The apartment where I was living in Bay Ridge was very old and the heating system was powered with hot water; on the winter, which turned to be particularly cold, the “radiators” were forced to work full force and the filtered air on the tubes formed air bubbles that would exploit creating a sound that could be compared to tiny hammers furiously hitting metal tubes. Also during the winter of 2009/10 three blizzards occurred; the violence of the wind outside forced me to stay home again record through a semi open window. On the first days after the storm I became interested on the sounds of people stepping into snow and crushing ice.

The conditions given at a certain moment help making it unique and unrepeatable. Recording the environment is recording the conditions that are defining that moment and working with those recordings is an attempt to make a moment infinite beyond its actual ephemeral nature."

- David Velez, April 2011


David Velez is a Colombian sound artist who uses field recordings to capture the "breathing", the "murmur" of places and how these affect him. Currently residing in Bogotá, he is pursuing a Master in Fine Arts, where is interest lies in sound installations... particularly receptive to his environment, David has learnt a lot from it, trying to reproduce its textures, hidden sense, and the resulting emotions... perfecting their own language, his creations are highly evoking abstract sound dioramas with a universal scope.
His works so far have been published both physically on Ripples Recordings, SiRiDisc, and digitally through Test Tube, Audio Gourmet, Rain Music, and Impulsive Habitat of which he is besides a co-managing editor...

For MS, David composed perhaps his most ambitious piece to date, a double album based on his interaction with water in all of its forms (steam, fog, rain, sea, river, snow...) during his stay in Brooklyn...


Muffled life, twisted reality...
Rain spattering some decrepit walls & assorted junk...
The whirring of tired motors,
reminiscences of long gone moments,
of something inscribed within...

Broken windy days...tracing paths,
"Bay ridge" is about sensing what lies out of vision,
a strange palpation of the non tangible,
the gain of new colours...

Soaked echoes,
trails of an other creeping world,
"Bay ridge" scrutinizes the everyday,
rooting out its shadow zones...

Our memories are dust...
Halos of sound linger on like obstinate clouds...
"Bay ridge" helps to lift the veil
and to listen to all rushing streams & filigree flows...
so much waiting to burst,
sleeping in tacit alliance...

Decipher the scenery, and walk on the same line...


CD1 - 01. Bay ridge vol.I
CD2 - 01. Bay ridge vol.II


CD1 : 58'04
CD2 : 35'18


2xCDR ltd to 100 numbered copies


An unusual 2 disc outing for the Mystery Sea label by Brooklyn based Velez which, at an hour and thirty five minutes (58 minutes on disc one & 37 on disc two), is enough to test the attention span of even the most ardent fan of the genre.
As is always the case with MS releases water is the central theme which is, as Velez states in the liner notes, the dominant subject of his own work and as such this pairing should be a marriage made in  heaven and for the most part it is.  The sounds on offer feel rubbed and ground and scrunched to provide a deliciously textural experience that seemingly hangs together due to the coarseness of the constituent sounds.  The problem for me though is it's just too long.  My attention span with albums is somewhere around the 40 minute mark after which I start craving something new. As such disc two is easily my preferred of the two and besides, it feels more fully exploratory.  Disc one whilst certainly enjoyable kept losing me so I found it difficult to make the journey to it's conclusion and I certainly couldn't do the full two disc trip in one go, which was a shame.  Hopefully though you'll have a longer concentration span than me and will be able to stick it out and experience the full effect.
wonderful wooden reasons

THE FIELD REPORTER|Caity Kerr    --- NEW !
David Velez is a Colombian sound artist who, as far as I can tell, works uniquely with field recordings. He also runs the very fine netlabel Impulsive Habitat whose releases are as good as any that I’ve listened to in the idiom, and which is building a strong reputation for releasing work of high quality.
This tight focus on one area of sonic art has resulted in a very strong work marked by elegant handling of a restricted palette of materials, evidence of invention in the polyphonic layering, an awareness of the need to maintain contrapuntal interest. In this kind of work however, with material that lies along the representational borderline, there is so much more at stake than mere technique.
Listening to representational material such as field recordings, recordings which we recognize or think we can recognize, often strikes me as a playful activity, a sort of game with elements of fun and mystery. What are we listening to? What’s making this object move around? Are there living things or machines at work here? In what space or spaces? Am I putting together an overall picture from fragments or is the work unfolding according to an underlying plan? Is there a story in there somewhere?
Here we are told the sound sources. I have an ambivalent attitude to this revelation – sometimes I think it’s worth knowing the sources, sometimes I don’t. I know someone who once got told off by a listener for introducing an electroacoustic concert piece with an account of the sound sources. In Bay Ridge the question seems to be of little relevance as the composed whole seems to transcend the sum of its parts. I’m not hearing the sound sources as much as the composer’s reworking of the material. Now, this might sound a trifle bland, academic and uninteresting, but I think it’s of critical importance, because not many artists can make the listener do this, certainly not as well as Velez does in this work. There are artists who insist, like King Canute before the incoming tide, that the listener must not recognize or focus in any way on the sound sources, when all the time that would seem to be the main interest in their work. And who can tell what a given listener will take from a work in this idiom. So, to emphasize the point, this ability to make the listener forget the sound sources and listen ‘elsewhere’ is a great strength of this work, carried out in this case, it would appear, effortlessly. Not that I want to hide the sources from you in any way – you can read the programme notes online.
Moving on, I consider the release of a double cd to be a bold move. How many listeners ‘these days’ will take time to change cds and absorb over 90 minutes of challenging material? A double cd begs important questions around what might be called , the ‘lexis’ of such work, the socialized unit of reading or reception; for example the music industry would currently have us all snack on the 3 – 4 minute mp3. With long form field recordings is it the double cd, the single cd, the track (in appropriate cases), the episode? This invites an intriguing odyssey through the emerging repertoire.
I raise this point because I often lean towards a semiological analysis, a ‘reading’ of work in this idiom, an approach which has produced many excellent analyses of  photographic and video work.
The work is episodic – sections often begin and end with, or fade to, passages with very clear gestures – a subtle formalized  compositional touch. There is therefore clarity at the diminuendi, in both meaning and sound, as if a mist lifts. I particularly enjoyed a spot of film sound technique in which the sound of dishes at the end of one section led to a complete shift of spaces, as if the sound was on the radio or telly in someone’s kitchen.
The ‘scenes’ are generally busy with good activated sounds, things in motion. The layers are well separated through filtering, the material drawn, apparently, from a variety of indoor and outdoor locations. The outdoor layers might be marked by birds for example which help to define the territory. At several points I enjoyed a slackening of the connection with the sound source, for example what comes over as watery sounds might in fact be something else altogether. This doubting process is wave like – the material draws you in, you question a little, then you let go for a spell.
The composed space establishes itself without fuss yet despite this apparent authorial presence it is the listener who gives unity to the work. Is there an informed reading of such work? If not, your reading is as good as mine. In this sense then do we have, yet again, the death of the author?
I’ve come across several attempts at investigating the notion of ‘meaning’ in this kind of work. Where do we begin with this project? We have polarities at work – narrative versus ambient. We have non-modernist traits: expression by means of the represented subject and not the work itself. Of course with field recordings, abstracted, we’re not recording the real but signifying and interpreting. This raises a few interesting questions. We are decoding some very complex objects which are able to create, articulate and sustain meaning. We might also benefit from asking about the spatial meaning of Bay Ridge.
Finally the conceptual strength of the work lies in its aggregate approach to the material, similar to the approach adopted by photographic documentarists in which lots of shots are taken of the same subject in many circumstances at different times. Analytic therefore, rather than unitary or synthetic.
Bay Ridge is released on Mystery Sea as a limited edition of 100 numbered copies.
the field reporter