Based on sounds recorded above and below the surface in the Lofoten Islands, Angélica Castelló‘s compositions on Sonic Blue create an imaginary underwater exploration on the theme of the effects of human sonic intervention in the aquatic soundscape.While both whale and water sounds have been a staple of the new age relaxation industry for decades, Castelló constructs an altogether deeper and different listening experience on Sonic Blue, using field recordings (made by her, Susanna Niedermayr and others) as well as her favoured instrument, the Paetzold or sub-great bass recorder. While there are certainly plenty of watery sounds in evidence, they are placed as one important element among the whale song and other sounds of aquatic life, as well as the acoustic and electronic instruments and other processed environmental recordings.
The results are suitably and superbly immersive, Castelló constructing an intricate story which travels over and under the seas, from the Arctic Ocean via the Mediterranean to the Pacific on side A, and on to points warmer or wider on the obverse. All the while, she creates moods which range from the sublimely ambient and expressive to the more complex and disturbing tones which open the darker, less comfortable ones found on side B. Here, the droning, heaving and huffing sounds Castelló generates from the Paetzold recorder merge with the less obviously identifiable scrapes, snippets and mammal calls alongside as the ever-present drips and splashes, together acting as a reminder that the seas are not always safe for humans, and neither do people always leave their inhabitants in peace.
According to Castelló, Sonic Blue also operates on the level of the unconscious for which the sea has long been a metaphor. If so, then some of the sounds she constructs can be seen to not only emulate and symbolise the shockwaves of compressed air detonations used to generate seismic mapping information during underwater oil and gas exploration, but also as stark symbolic representations of a human psyche which finds its physical and emotional relationship to the natural environment both under and generating continuing and considerable strain.
As such, Sonic Blue is so much more than a simple travelogue over the oceans; Castelló has created an artwork which resonates profoundly. Hers is a virtual journey based in experienced reality, and one whose reflections on the seas are as deep as the oceans that it celebrates.
Note: More information about Sonic Blue can be found here.