Music Reviews

Artist: Andy Backhouse
Title: A Sonic Map Of Dornoch
Format: CD + Download
Label: Focused Silence
Andy Backhouse offers up a very personal half-hour soundscape sampling natural sounds from the Scottish seaside town of Dornoch, where his grandmother lives. Indeed, you can hear his granny and a variety of other passing conversations alongside the crashing waves, the birdsong, car sounds, and other slightly less obvious sounds seemingly of cafés or very light industry.

The result is essentially a sonic seaside postcard, and to be honest a rather prosaic one, not really imbued with a distinctive character that would allow the listener to place Dornoch in particular unless you’re an absolute master at recognising accents. Only the anachronistic and thankfully short-lived sampled bagpipe sound that appears out of nowhere 15 minutes in (a recording of some piece of tourist tat, maybe?) places this even in Scotland.

But, thanks to the inclusion of calm lapping waves that come and go, it is very naturally a relaxing and calming thing to listen to- a fleeting bit of audio tourism that allows you to imagine that you are meandering carefree along the beachside, without having to worry about the bitter cold you might really get in the Northerly Scottish town.

Andy Backhouse has generated this work as a cathartic experience, which he describes as being related to his perception disorder, which I’m sure is true although the end result could simply be seen as indulgent nostalgia. That being said, as a sound postcard it is picturesque and endearing.

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