Original work by Bernie Krause

Silence Marks the Dawn

This is an extract. The full piece is 10'11".

In sound art, absence of signal can sometimes be the most political sound. Krause increasingly cannot find places to record away from the sounds of human interaction, and even when he does, as this series of recordings shows, the result can be affected by humans all the same. With reference to American marine biologist Rachel Carson's watershed work "The Silent Spring", 1962, this beguiling tapestry of birdsong is a study of the harbingers of the dawn, but reveals a most terrible message.

The audio itself teases with proximity and distance. Recorded in a mountain range mid-April at Sugarloaf Ridge State Park, California in the same month on four different years between 2004-2015, this piece captures progressive biophonic shifts caused by the devastating drought that began in 2011.

As the artist explains, "It shows, over that period, the changing climate’s impact on the biophony at this particular site. In 2015, the last year in the quartet, there is almost no bird vocalization and we have come as close to a silent spring as I’ve ever heard."

The recording includes these species: dark-eyed junco, black-headed grosbeak, wild turkey, song sparrow, Bewick’s wren, the American Robin, spotted towhee and California towhee.

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