12 Essential Field Recordings 

Source: The New York Times.

The world of “field recordings” is cinéma vérité for the ear: the sounds of natural phenomenon, occasionally from far-flung places, documenting the unreachable, the unexpected and the heretofore inaudible. Listening to these recordings of chattering animals, bustling ecosystems and roaring weather systems can be an experience that blurs the boundaries of music and chance, documentary and art, new age and noise, the real and the imaginary.

Though often bolstered by studio trickery, Irv Teibel’s pioneering “Environments” albums in the 1960s and ’70s helped popularize the idea of lapping waves, rustling leaves and chirping cicadas as a relaxing slice of audio tourism. And the 1970 release “Songs of the Humpback Whale” was a surprise smash. Since then, the world of field recording has grown downright hallucinogenic. Today, great artists like Chris Watson, Jana Winderen and Jacob Kirkegaard provide patient and exploratory listeners of the near impossible like the bustling sea life of Greenland, the volcanic vibrations of Iceland or vultures chomping on a zebra carcass in Kenya.