Massimo Ricci | Touching Extremes | November 2011
Field recordings from France and Scotland by a name that I had never met prior to receiving this CDR. There's a whole explanation on the sleeve in regard to a "compositional" approach in what Hignell produced after seizing circumstances, noises and voices of the visited places, but nevertheless the act of listening remains anchored to the perception of environmental events as such: natural phenomena (majestic thunders, for example), involuntary patterns, unexpected appearances – including the snippet of a heavy-hearted Edith Piaf rendition by some street musician – and enlargements of the acoustic spectrum of a certain place, though I don't know to which extent the sources were treated afterwards. It all amounts to something that, in its relative ordinariness, still manages to elicit a degree of interest – especially in terms of "resonance colour" – thanks to an appreciated sense of unobtrusive modesty.
Elliot Loe | The Field Reporter | August 2011
The boundary between the source of the sound and the listener, or similarly between the soundscape and the surrounding space that "receives" or absorbs the soundscape itself, is very subtle and in fact every kind of analysis that tries to objectively explain this sort of dividing line can leads us to think that this boundary is just traced conceptually. But what seems to be a mere philosophical exercise is actually a complex issue that is thoroughly analyzed by Daniel Alexander Hignell in his "Soundscape Study 001" released by the Greek label Triple Bath.
The whole project was devised by the author as an attempt to explore the sonic scenery of two geographically distant villages and it aims to explain how the sound affects those who live it.
Crickets, thunderstorms, stolen dialogues, street musicians, ocean waves and raindrops are just a few examples of the sounds that have been meticulously recorded with phonographic care. In fact, in terms of quality, the recordings are pretty interesting but the emotional heights of the record are direct consequence of the technique used to assemble the entire work: the transitions between every passage are extremely smooth and everything grows in a very organic way. Every sound seems placed just temporarily in focus and slowly merges and transforms into something else, into something that resembles an audio-picture of places and emotions, which gives shape to an ever changing multilayered composition, a pool of colors and nuances that floats over layers of washed out drones and hushed textures.
In the end "Soundscape Study 001" manages to follow the targets of the project without being pretentious and on the contrary it gives to the listener the awareness of the different existing possibilities when it comes to the fruition of sound. Probably "Soundscape Study 001? doesn't give clear answers to what stated above but offers millions of insights to start thinking with new approaches, new attitudes and why not, to start listening with new ears.
Bauke van der Wal | Connexion Bizarre | July 2011
The stylish, minimal cover doesn't reveal much of what to expect, and being unfamiliar with Daniel's other works, "Soundscape Study 001? is a first aural encounter. Ten tracks, entitled F01 to 05 and B01 to 05, reveal the phases of his 'study' and the outcome of the various experimentations, although I am unsure what the 'F' and 'B' stand for. The tracks are intentionally named like this because there is a definite difference between the two sets.
The 'F'-tracks can be seen as a depiction of a walk through the streets of a city in a haze of - for example - a delayed acid trip. Words, sounds, textures, but mainly atmospheres, build a surrealistic view on the world. On the other hand, the 'B'-tracks are more truthful soundscapes in the original meaning of the word. Genuine compositions of manipulated field recordings (I think) and sounds of other origin.
The result of these studies is a journey through a desolate town, but as is reasonably normal in the scene of minimalism, isolationism and soundscapes, desolation is something beautiful that embraces you and makes you feel alive. Tip!
Kev Nickells | Freq Zine | January 2011
The title Soundscape Study is immediately misleading - while ostensibly sourced from the sonic ambience of dreary and audibly sodden holidays (in Scotland's Isle of Barra and France's Fitou respectively), this disc lacks the arid mic-fetishising of a great many soundscape pieces. Daniel Hignell has come to this work with a peculiar ear for the ambient sounds of thunderstorms and tidal crashes, holistically stitching and interlacing the sounds into a musically continuous suite.
While the 001 of the title suggests this is Hignell's first foray into soundscapery, he is remarkably assiduous with his source material: he never adulterates the sounds with unnecessary effects but allows timbral and tonal affects to seep from the pores of his recording devices - subtly deploying in-the-red mics for their rhythmic rattle or miking the patter of rain on tarpaulin so it sounds more like embers crackling in a drum circle.
This aural deception of Hignell's source is part of this record's strength - listening closely, there are moments where my ear was discretely coaxed from distorted choir services into distant thunderstorms, the mutation of the source sounds untraceable. It's a sonorous effect that's rare in soundscapes, which tend to prefer 'transparently' offering snapshots of sound - Soundscape Study 001 reminded me more of the affectionate ears of musique concréte artists such as Bernard Parmegiani or Francisco Lopez.
In spite of his sometime deceptive interlacing of his source material, Hignell has quite clearly demarcated the 'France' (tracks 1-5) and 'Scotland' (tracks 6-10) elements. The trite clichés about the English's obsession with weather are probably accurate here - it would seem that there really is a difference between deluges in different countries. Different ways of recording rain perhaps mean different ways of getting soaking wet. Scotland is a great deal more bare, as represented here, the rain somehow more languorous and menacing than the French equivalent. That Hignell has managed to impute sonic characteristics to something so banal as rain is really quite impressive.
This notion of 'transparency' is what I feel often hold me back from fully engaging with soundscapes - like the turgid holiday snaps of the rank-and-file tourist, I'm rarely interested to hear just what the recordist hears (unless that recordist happens to be Chris Watson). Thankfully, that criticism is unfounded with Hignell, who gratifies his listener with a patchwork of engaging pieces. He's unabashed of more conventional musical techniques, so allows the beeping of a reversing vehicle and the braying of lambs to rhythmically frame the train-from-a-distance drones of track 6. More strikingly, he records a pounding disco from some distance to leave the surrounding choir and broken fire alarm sound seeming less like soundscapes and more like some lost Throbbing Gristle piece.
It is difficult to assert whether Hignell was exceptionally fortuitous or astonishingly intimate with the recordings (I suspect a combination of the two), but it is a CD which reveals a quite intelligent tonal regard. There are organ tones (buried beneath more stormclouds - this really sounds like an incredibly wet holiday) on track 2 which, on my fifth or sixth listen, appear to presage a busker's rendition of Edith Piaf's "Hymne l'amour" a few moments later. In the maelstrom, the tones struggle to be listened to directly, and that, perhaps, was Hignell's intention for the CD as a whole - a rewarding and engaging work which subtly and gracefully nags for repeated listens.
Frans de Waard | Vital Weekly | issue 758 | December 2010
The name Daniel Alexander Hignell sounds like a new one to me, but perhaps I came across him before. He's a sound artist when not playing with his "slightly silly math punk jazz supergroup" bygrayvpartynmyrytarm. In his "Soundscape Study 001", he tries to "blur the boundaries between two major reflective elements of the soundscape - that of the listener who exists within and contributes to the soundscape on a continual basis, and that of the visitor, the passing critic who appreciates and contributes only momentarily to the sound world he/she is absorbing". To that end Hignell visited a small village in France and composed five pieces out of that sound material and also five were made from recordings made in a village in Scotland. He listens not as a composer but as a visitor to the place, although I am not sure what the difference is. Also I am likewise unsure to what extend Hignell actually composed the pieces, or whether they are cut outs from 'reality' - the information seems to be hinting towards the latter. In the French village Hignell seems to be concentrating on sounds from rural life, far, wide open shots of sound, whereas in the Scotland pieces, he seems to be more interested in closed sound events, like sounds filtering through pipes and such like. It's actually quite interesting to hear all of this, even without knowing how it was made exactly.