By Stefan Wood
The Search Ensembles is a collaborative work, not so much a working group as it is a concept where many people contribute recordings to. Initiated by an/OAR founder Dale Lloyd, the Search Ensembles is a collection of old field recordings and new studio recordings that are intended to be sonic voyages to unexplored places, past and present, mysterious and evocative. They are abstract field recordings, aural textures of alien fields and landscapes that have traces of familiar tribal rhythms and beats, but any direct recognizable influences are not discernible.
Contributors to this initial effort are: Alan Courtis, Cédric Peyronnet, Cyril Henry, Dle Lloyd, David Tobin, Jani Tulchin, Katerina Nejepsova, Loren Chasse, Michael Northam, Petr Tzar, Phil Legrand, Slavek Kwi, and Stuart Arentzen. Some just provide the field recordings, others are musicians. Listening to this reminds me of the abstract soundscape albums of the 70s and 80s, African Head Charge channeled through F/i and early Tangerine Dream. The rhythms are trance-like; haunting and with reverb. The instruments - whistle, guitar, flute, banjo, percussion, electronics - are rarely identifiable, the exception being the track “PL,” Phil Legard employing Robbie Basho-like abstractions with his banjo, and “KN SK,” with Nejepsova’s haunting flute and Kwi’s percussion.
What makes this album above average is its creative use of “found” recordings, and mixing with electronics to create unusual and compelling soundscapes. I am eager to hear more from this project. Recommended for the sound adventurer.