“Would you recognize the Rhine by its sound?” asks Lasse-Marc Riek. The river, that ever-flowing, every-changing artery, the thoroughfare of our landscapes, is a popular subject for field recordists. Perhaps because no two sound alike. Each breeds its own flora, fauna and civilization.
Cédric Peyronnet curated a whole series of recordings along the River Taurion by various artists in three-inch format, Flaming Pines its own from artists and rivers around the world. Annea Lockwood´s superb triple CD set A Sound Map of the Danube was painstakingly constructed after previously doing the same thing closer to home, along New York´s Hudson River. And those, excuse the near-pun, are merely a drop in the bucket.
As the title Von der Rheinquelle bis Hafen Karlsruhe makes clear, this stretch begins at 2,052 m elevation, literally at the source of the Rhine, and stops at selected locations scouted out and photographed by Thomas M. Siefert, all the way to Karlsruhe, capturing flow, burble, trickle, bird and machine song, and the chatter of the riverside dwellers and their children. The air grows cool and darkles, The Rhine flows calmly on (Heinrich Heine). The next installment will take us all the way to Rotterdam.
Riek further wonders if we can still foster a creative, indeed mutually beneficial relationship “without lapsing back into modes of romanticism, when witnessing its remaining beauty in some rare places; without turning away in frustration and disillusionment, when confronted with the irreparable interventions it has undergone.” Though your present reviewer does not recognize the Rhine by its sound, he does know a good, mutually beneficial thing when he hears it.