Whistlers at Ellsworth Station, Antarctica 1957 (Død Univers, 2010)

Posted in Død Univers by HOLIDAYS on June 21, 2010

I admittedly had no clue what I was getting into when I invested in this set. I was sort of under the impression that the whole Antarctica thing was some kind of tale, like an “Extreme Music from Africa” type of deal, but what I got instead has turned out to be one of the finest, most fascinating listens I’ve ever had.

The source of this release is said to be an old, dusty acetate found in the back of a record store, containing actual recordings from August, 1957 in Antarctica, where “whistlers”, or atmospheric sounds were recorded for whatever research. Each track is introduced by a rather monotone curator (possibly a J.B. Brown- as labeled on the original acetate- but there seems no way to be quite certain), describing characteristics of the sounds heard in each recording, including echos, swishes, hiss, etc. While it’s rather stop-and-go, but I felt that my listening to this was more for education than enjoyment- like watching a documentary about a movie instead of watching the movie itself. The recordings themselves of the “whistlers” are great- they’re very rhythmic, and often play off very cold and eerie, sounding almost like evidence that would be presented to Skully and Molder type characters for something unexplainable. It’s truly unique and captivating- I don’t recall ever hearing anything like this before.

Whistlers at Ellsworth is presented in a beautiful set, including two 3″ CDRs housed in individual black sleeves, all in a nice 3×3″ box that including a small card of track titles, and is accompanied by a one-sided C27 as a extra, titled “More Apparent than Real” (taken from a description given by the narrator on one of the recordings) that utilizes found sounds from the acetate. While unfortunately being just a one sided tape (only 13 minutes of material), it still makes the perfect companion to the discs- as you can now “watch the movie” after being educated on it.

Død Univers has certainly given these recordings a wonderful presentation, but sadly, the set is limited to a mere 50 copies, and once they’re gone, they “will never be reproduce”. I really hope this isn’t the end for these recordings. Between the actual and potential material, the possibilities are endless. In parallel, I look forward to seeing what else Død Univers has to offer- with a presentation like this, their name is certainly something to keep an eye out for.

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