The birds of Nilo How can sound narrate a territory otherwise? How do ‘liminal’ or ‘marginal’ spaces ‘sound like’? How do sound and silence interact with each other in ‘liminal’ contexts? How do sound and vision (and/or invisibility) interact with each other? All these questions emerge while listening to David Velez’s intimate sound analysis on “The Birds of Nilo”, a tiny and deep reflection on the nature of XXI century soundscape seen from a “narrow creek close to the Pagüey River where many birds gathered early in the morning and sang their tunes”, as the author writes in the complement notes of this release.
These recordings remind us that it’s important to question the macro-concept of the soundscape as a “masterpiece of nature”, interpreting it as a sonic environment but and not as something that is perceivable in terms of an aesthetic unity within a sonic context.
Velez writes: “The crowded vegetation around the creek, the low air density caused by the high temperatures and the multitude of singing birds produced an immersive experience where I perceived the birds as vortexes of a room while the reverberating trees worked as walls.”
We can listen to this polyphonic and complex soundscape as a series of sonic events that are hybrid, blurred and fluid and not considering them as a simple orchestra or an harmonic picture of reality.
Velez pushes our perception over the limits of a stereotypical categorization of soundscape, building a sonic space where we can interrogate ourselves about intricacy, spatial depth, architecture and geometry of a place.
‘When you walk 25-30 feet above ground, it is a miracle, because you are still in the city… but you are flying above the city. You are in the middle of trees, and that is a moment of beauty’. A sense of beauty that is also a possibility of a critical engagement with acoustic space and the proposition of a possible different approach to the soundscape.
Notes from the artist 'The birds of Nilo' is a sequence of six recordings captured in the small municipality of Nilo in the department of Cundinamarca (Colombia) whose average temperature of 27º C (81º F), ranks among the highest in the country. The material was captured in a narrow creek close to the Pagüey River where many birds gathered early in the morning and sang their tunes.
The crowded vegetation around the creek, the low air density caused by the high temperatures and the multitude of singing birds produced an immersive experience where I perceived the birds as vertexes of a room while the reverberating trees worked as walls. This aesthetic approximation to acoustic spatial depth where architectural and geometric patterns are used to read a natural place is what I wanted to develop and articulate on this release.
"When you walk 25-30 feet above ground, it is a miracle, because you are still in the city… but you are flying above the city. You are in the middle of trees, and that is a moment of beauty." – Renzo Piano
Thanks to Enrico Coniglio and Leandro Pisano.
Photo cover: Lina Velandia
Dedicated to my dad Alvaro Vélez who introduced me to sound and architecture.
The birds of Nilo by David Velez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at www.galaverna.org.
Colombian sound artist David Vélez offers a sequence of six recordings captured in the small town of Nile, in the department of Cundinamarca, Colombia. Vélez recently made a piece for the Tsonami Festival held in November each year in Valparaíso, Chile which was broadcast on Radio Valentin Letelier of this port city. The material of "The Birds of the Nile" was captured in a narrow creek near the river Pagüey where many birds gather early in the morning and sing their songs. Vélez explores the interaction that occurs in "marginal" areas and how it interacts sound and silence. The soundscape reveals this relationship comprising a wide range of sounds rich in colors and hues. [Guillermo Escudero]
Contemplative to its very core, David Velez’s “The birds of Nilo” is a small celebration of nature. Eschewing any filtering the piece is a bright brilliant beautiful recording of birds simply singing to their hearts’ content. By letting the songs form so organically with barely a noticeable trace of editing the piece feels absolutely at peace. Teeming with life the songs simply reverberate in the air. Various themes return again and again into the mix revealing a sense of purpose amongst these happy healthy and free creatures. Fading into perception the birds start in medias res. No buildup or anything the sound begins right in the flux. Carefully selected the sounds simply occupy and own the space. David Velez is merely a visitor to their private world. Kept quiet the songs of the birds are woven together quite masterfully. The size is emphasized as the birds elaborate on the giganticness of the territory. Hence songs simply grow in scope and size until finally they simply come to a close. Variety is of the utmost importance and here David Velez is quite good at picking out the specific moments to emphasize further. Beneath the singing of the birds deeper undercurrents of sound take hold more than willing to further punctuate the piece with additional stylistic flair. Upon completion of a particular section David Velez manages to create pitch perfect transitions as the album changes focus. Strangely moving and deeply calming, David Velez documents a teeming environment on the active “The birds of Nilo”.