voices of memu

Research Retreat by Eisuke Yanagisawa (Field Recordist, Anthropologist)
April 20th – May 8th, 2021, March 2nd – 14th, 2022

Voices of Memu is a collection of recordings by field recordist Eisuke Yanagisawa made at numerous locations in and around Taiki, Hokkaido, during his five-week stay at memu earth lab in the spring of 2021 and winter of 2022.

Venturing into the wilds with his audio equipment, at different times of the day and night, Eisuke sought out new sounds in an unfamiliar place. As well as the voices of the land, Eisuke also turned his attention to the words and activities of local residents in the town of Taiki, and at the farms that are scattered across the area.

The result is a captivating series of sound environments that portray the essence of the area with a deep sense of place, in the way that only pictures painted by sound can realize.

Format: Digital and Double CD/Booklet
Release date: Autumn 2023 (coming soon)

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「Voices of Memu」

text by Eisuke Yanagisawa

北海道の東部、十勝の南部に位置するメム(大樹町)を拠点とするmemu earth lab2021年と2022年の冬から春にかけて計5週間ほど滞在し、周辺の様々な場所の響きを収録した。




I stayed at memu earth lab, based in Memu (Taiki Town), located in the southern part of Tokachi, eastern Hokkaido, for a total of five weeks during the winter and spring of 2021 and 2022, and recorded the sounds I encountered at various locations around the area.

Loading the recording equipment into the car, I drive on the vast land while thinking, “Where should I go today?” There are forests and rivers all around, and lakes and marshes dotting the coast. Away from the city center, one rarely sees passing cars or people. On the other hand, wild foxes, red-crowned cranes, and squirrels can be seen from time to time, and the snow is dotted with tracks of some animal. I parked the car at a suitable spot, carry our bags of equipment, and keep walking until I find a point that looks interesting or has the atmosphere of something I can record. The various sounds that I encountered in this way are recorded in this work. In addition, we talked to the people who live in the area because I was interested in how and what kind of sounds they hear in their daily lives. Through their words (voices), the way you listen to these recorded sounds, in other words, the world reconstructed by the recording, is also likely to change.

When I stepped out of the bungalow where we were staying on a snowy morning, I shivered with such silence that I thought my ears were clogged. Even in places where it seems like one can only hear the sounds of “nature” with their own ears, the microphones captured a variety of sounds associated with human activity. For example, there are the sounds of large trucks driving on national highways, hunters shooting their prey in the mountains, airplanes passing overhead, the sound of the outdoor units of neighboring residences, and of course, the sounds I myself make subconsciously. Still, a place where there is little background noise and small sounds can be heard clearly is worthwhile in itself. This is just such a place.

Considering the ambient sounds I encountered in Memu, the voices of people, without distinguishing them, I try to perceive them as the voice of this land. By attentively listening to the voice of the land, recording them, and attentively listening to the recorded sounds, what kind of world will emerge? The word ‘Memu’ apparently means ‘a place where a spring wells up’ in the Ainu language. It is my hope that these sounds will intertwine with the memories and physical experiences of each listener and nurture their imagination towards the world like a spring water.