Up until just a few years ago my interest in field recording was purely as a recordist myself. I'd picked up a few random cd's of natural sounds and of course a few examples of improvised music & sound work featuring field recordings came my way, but for a long time the only recordings you could buy were in the 'sounds of nature' catagory & there is something empty about much of that - the focus seemed always to be on the technical quality of the sounds captured, but that isn't how we hear in the real world anyway. When we listen we are influenced by thoughts, feelings and the visual aspects around us too. Sounds are evocative not scientific for us. So, as a more human, more creative exploration of field recording began to evolve and become more abstract, the sound of nature got left on the new age shop shelves, with few artists / field recordist able to capture the emotive aspects of natural sound.
One of the few who was and is able to do that is Kiyoshi Mizutani. Thankfully many other artist / recordists have now found a way back to natural sound too, but i'd go as far as to say that there are at least two titles in Kiyoshi's discography that stand as benchmarks for this area & will remain so.
With these two, sadly out of print, releases Kiyoshi presents us with the sound of natural environments in a way that clearly marks the difference between someone who simply points a microphone and someone who is able to capture more than just the sound - something impossible to put into words. Its the difference between someone playing the notes from a score & someone who is able to express the music - there is something 'esle' involved.
JrF: when & why did you become interested in field recording ?
KM: When I was doing the improvisation music before, I was interested in the sound which was made not by musical instruments. It was 'noise' music. Not only electronic noise but noise of daily life. I came to start making field recordings while searching for such a sound.
JrF: how do you use your field recordings in your own artistic output ?
KM: Almost always I use it without the effect and mixes. Occasionally, I restructure it. But other sounds are not added.
JrF: do you regard 'natural' sounds as a musical element (bearing in mind that the conventional definition of 'music' is rapidly becoming obsolete) or as sound ? is this definition important to you ? does it matter ?
KM: I am made to think by the sound of nature 'what is the music'. The sound of nature contains a lot of musical messages. It is a signal and information from the nature. It is a musical element included in the nature. I'm interested in it.
JrF: how has the act of field recording altered the way you listen to your everyday surroundings and how has it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
KM: Daily life and the way to listen to the music doesn't change at all, though the fun of walking in nature has increased.
JrF: One more specific question: about your 'dawn at kobo No Matsu park' webpage - for the benefit of readers who haven't visited this page before could you tell us more about these recordings & the location itself ?
KM: OK. These recordings are records of 90 seconds from the time of sunrise at the same place. I continued it for a week in each season. The location is a park in the hills near my home. There is a house in the neighbourhood.