Side Note

Listen to the world’s ambient sounds filtered through Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies

I recently discovered the delightful website Cities and Memory, a project dedicated to compiling field recordings from throughout the world. They’ve shared ambient sounds from the Sistine Chapel, Indonesian caves teeming with thousands of bats, the ancient Yakushima forest in Japan, and the inside of British hockey arenas. Each field recording is accompanied by a remix, in which an artist reinterprets their source material in unexpected ways.

For many of these remixes, Cities and Memories will hand the interpreter a pair of cards from Oblique Strategies — a deck of cards devised by famed producer Brian Eno featuring nonsensical directives meant to cause a person view a creative problem from a completely different perspective (view a random Strategy here) — and ask that they create whatever track the cards compel them. The results are stunning and strange in equal measure.

Some of these tracks — such as “Give Away the Game,” which sources its sounds from Istanbul, and “A New Hayling Island”) take the form of plaintive ambient tracks, while others (“When I Wasn’t Present,” based around a sample of a Heidlberg plate press; “The Sound of a City Going Stir Crazy,” based on a field recording of New Haven, CT) are full-on dance tracks. Others still, “The Wanderer and His Shadow,” which draws from the sound of insects in a Thai forest, are the type of noise music that will fill you with existential dread.

Click around the playlist and try to find a track that fits your mood. There are definitely less strange ways to spend your weekend.