On Lago Joshua Bonnetta has managed to craft a series of rich and surprisingly emotive field recordings. Recorded in partnership with Ron Jude’s photobook of the same name, these immaculate recordings of the Californian desert capture the human and inhuman elements of the landscape. The varied sounds of the desert are interspersed with speech from those who attempt to live there.
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- Lago by Joshua Bonnetta
8/10 Laurie Staff review, 28 January 2016
Joshua Bonnetta is a US/Canadian film and recording artist who likes to capture places in various forms, this time turning his attention to representing a small Californian town through sound art. Arming himself with contact mics, hydrophones, plain ol’ mics and tapes, he goes on a voyage of discovery, but what does he find??
The mics do a great job of collecting various gravelly rumblings, insectoid buzzings and the whirring of clapped-out vehicles. A radio drifts by while playing some accordion song sung in velvety spanish tones; the birds start singing. This is displacement from the NRHQ at it’s best; I can almost not hear the pop music echoing through from the rest of the office, almost.
You’ll also find some intriguing strands of conversation here. Salton Sea, California is a place where the local serial arsonist runs free, burning all in their path. We built a prison for that one here in Leeds. But it turns out that the people that have had their stuff burned also admit to using their guns on humans, but not animals. Never animals, because that would be inhumane, right? It’s all nuts over there in remote rural California.
So yes this is a good sonic portrait of a place that had been relatively isolated for so long, but now is coming into contact with the wider world, with all its technology, dubstep, and arsonists. Actually, maybe the wider world isn’t so great after all.
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