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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Zhao Cong and Zhu Wenbo - Were some sound days, one separately be placed (Ftarri, 2023)

By Irena Stevanovska

Zhu Wenbo and Zhao Cong are two innovative musical artists based in Beijing. Their album is characterized by a post-modern approach to sound production where they use experimental techniques such as field-recording. Zhao Cong’s solo performances involve the no-input method of creating sounds, together with recording random objects from the sonic environment, while Zhu Wenbo predominantely uses the field-recording technique to capture the sound of the world around him.

In their album-description, it is said that they have been recording short intervals of various sounds from the environment, and on the last day, they made two long recordings: one of cleaning up a room and the other of making bread. Listening to it, its pretty unclear from what the sounds come. But the two long tracks comprising the album feature a range of tones, uniquely blending man-made machines, designed for making the life of humans easier, with the organic acoustics of nature.

It’s really interesting how this album gives a refreshing contrast to the soundscape of our modern societies, where there are many noises that are constantly phasing in and out with each other becoming a complete mess of sound waves, as opposed to the natural soundscape that often blends harmoniously. Cong and Wenbo’s album offers a tranquil perspective on the noise pollution that has historically plagued modern societies. They reveal the beauty of these city sounds, to encourage the listener to experience the loudness and chaos of noise in the same way they would experience the natural sounds of the world around them.

Music has often been used as a theurapetic method and even though this album is labeled as a no-music genre, it can serve as a tool for learning to truly listen the sounds that exist around us, it invites the listener to cultivate a more attentive, mindful relationship with sound.