Review: Bahía Mansa – La Orilla en la Que Habito

HISTAMINE TAPES.

Centred on the dwindling biodiversity of the El Membrillo wetland in Chile, these two extended pieces look to “create awareness of the spaces in which the human, the animal, and the botanical converge”. They render audible the damage unleashed by encroaching human acts (housing developments, the dumping of sewage etc) – choruses of birds are fused with bleeps that attack like tiny pickaxes, while blustering winds become smothered with arpeggiating lines and digitised bells. Occasionally the intrusions can be heard emulating the sounds of nature, with electronics depicted as drizzling rain or bouncing with the same jovial phrasing as birdsong; perhaps a remark on the duplicitous dissonance of our ecological efforts, through which we relentlessly bulldoze the very natural spaces we claim need protection.

It’s a record of tension and spatial conflict. The stereo field is restricted, with activity contained to the centre as if the edges have already been gnawed away; rendered barren. Naturally this leads to a greater commotion as textures feud for the little space that remains, trampling eachother in a bid to be heard. The warble of tape is also a constant haunt, both an overt nod to natural disintegration and a means of casting the record as an archival remnant of a place that no longer exists – skipping forward to the future to push El Membrillo into the past. Indeed, these pieces regularly feel akin to a 60s science fiction soundtrack, full of degraded and strange airs, painting spaces that plague the earthly and familiar with infringements of the uncanny and disturbing.