Stream: Daniel Capeille – “Alaska Silentscape #2”

According to the release notes, Scum Yr Earth‘s preferred dubbing folk almost returned the master for teenage artist Daniel Capeille’s debut collection Alaska Silentscape because, as its title suggests, there’s not actually a lot to hear. Which is kind of the point…

The three tracks within, titled numerically, are part of a wider project Capeille is calling “Les Cartes Silences,” for which he has traversed sections of Alaska setting up his tape recorder wherever takes his fancy. And that doesn’t mean there has to be anything to record there – in fact, the less there is going on, the better. “Sometimes silences exist because there are movements,” Capeille explains, somewhat cryptically.

For several minutes, after an initial click signifying the recording has begun, “#1” proceeds in absolute silence.  You find yourself checking the time elapsed to suss out whether you can actually justify spending the time with it – we’re busy people, after all – but then you realise the outside world is creeping in (in this case my wife was watching Britain’s Got Talent) and you wonder whether it’s possible to turn silence up. You close your eyes to picture huge uninhabited expanses and wish you were there to breathe the cold in.

When audible events occur, they do so at volumes barely above the silence from which they originate and you wonder whether you even heard them at all. In “#2″‘s case, they’re mighty unsettling, like guns cocking close to your head, and the notion is solidified several minutes of silent frozen air later when shots crack out in the distance (if you’re anything like me, which I don’t expect you to be, you think of Robert Hansen).

Obvious comparisons will be drawn, with Chris Watson, Thomas Köner and Francisco López springing to mind in particular, but having walked around in Alaska Silentscape several times now I’m confident Capeille is a genuinely outstanding, not to mention brave, talent all his own.  I hereby resolve to follow his journey closely.