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Jana Winderen - Energy Field

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Artist: Jana Winderen

Album: Energy Field

Label: Touch

Review date: Jun. 18, 2010

The three track titles on Energy Field sum up Jana Winderen’s mission and approach: “Aquaculture,” “Isolation/Measurement,” and “Sense of Latent Power.” Her work moves away from detached observation toward heavy, expressionist rendering. Moreover, unlike her freq_out partner and Touch label mate Jacob Kirkegaard, Winderen seems driven more by her own passion, rather than the strength of her concepts. This is immersive and powerful creation first, “field recordings” second.

Winderen crafts Energy Field from recordings made in and around marine ecosystems in the Barents Sea, Greenland and Norway. What emerges is something similar to the mind-blowing underwater films of Jean Painlevé — a closed-off environment processed, then displayed for consumption. Where Painlevé aims for euphoric psychedelia, Winderen simply overwhelms. The sounds are mostly distinct, but her layers and edits turn the tracks into dense, hypnotic drones.

Indeed, any sounds that resemble standard field recordings are quickly subsumed into the overall haze, and if a clear sound happens to be reintroduced, it’s often at a disarming level in the mix. On “Isolation/Measurement,” what sound like wooden boards creaking pop out like something off one of the Autechre/Hafler Trio collaborations. “Aquaculture” and the first half of “Isolation/Measurement” follow this pattern closely, but the second half leads towards almost pure drone, and except for some scattered water and bird sounds, “Sense of Latent Power” gives all of its 20 minutes over to dark rumbles and jarring overtones. As a metaphor for both the deceptive quiet of the sea and Winderen’s role as recorder, selector, and artist, it’s an apt title.

By Brad LaBonte

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