Review: Yannick Dauby – 蛙界蒙薰

Dauby pitches his part of the dialogue perfectly. He doesn’t mimic the frogs outright; rather, he empathises with them, co-exists with them – his synthesisers become mysterious figments of the amphibious habitat, embedding themselves amongst the damp foliage as accepted members of the ecological chorus. Yet there’s a deliberate protrusion at play, too – while his electronics possess all of the required moisture and warmth to place them in amongst the haze of rainforest humidity, some of the sounds are distinctly alien enough to remind us that human hands are at work, and that every little bubble of tone or harmonic prickle is the result of a carefully constructed artificial calculation.

As well as highlight Dauby’s talents for amphibious synthesis, the record also points out the organic musicality of nature. The first side ends in climax, as the frog yelps thicken from a sporadic babble into a cloud set to combust; Dauby follows suit, agitating the frogs further through a mid-frequency hum that rattles and quivers in a nervy anticipation of a colossal natural shift (The transition from day into night perhaps? Or the impending commencement of a storm?). On a more molecular level, the record is constantly surging forward on tiny waves of dynamic up-and-down and slow, respiratory-esque fluctuations in tempo. Dauby is constantly embedding himself in the gaps, dropping globules of hum that hit the pond surface and ripple outward in slapback delays, announcing himself during the moments that the frogs cut back and joining them in their proclamations of celebration and danger. Rather than feel like a trivial mash of field recording and improvisation, the album feels like a science experiment; an examination of how frogs communicate and sonically interact, bolstered by a meticulous attempt to simulate, and exist among, their way of living.