Landshapes release “Whale Song”

– an experiment in evolutionary music –

This project arose from an interest in a new musical form – the hybrid.  Similar to a remix, this form would treat the stems and sounds from an existing song as objects, with which to include, discard, expand, reduce, stretch etc.  However, it would give the artist greater creative freedom to remould however much of the material they choose and the ability to add as much original material as they like to create their own track.  Unlike a remix, the track wouldn’t need to be recognisably linked to the original.

The idea was to see what would happen if this process was repeated successively by different artists.  Would there be anything left of the original?  What threads would carry through and how far?  To what extent would you be able to hear the evolution?

The project takes inspiration from the transmission of songs by humpack whales across the oceans.  In this process, which is one of thes most elaborate acoustic displays in the animal kingdom, hybrid songs are created when current songs, containing sequences and phrases are spliced together with similar sounds and phrases arranged in a similar pattern.  This creates new songs, which are constantly changing over temporal distances in a process of cultural evolution.

Landshapes set off the process back in 2014 when pondering what to do with a track, ‘Sea Snail’, which was kept back from the album ‘Heyoon’, released in 2015.  They decided to set off the chain, starting a migration which took two years to complete and travelled across the Atlantic ocean four times.  The project included many artists connected to and admired by Landshapes: Auclair, Tomaga, North America, Celebration, Barbaros, Doomsquad, Rozi Plain and Cosmo Sheldrake, from labels such as Transgressive, Lost Map Records, Bella Union and living in London, Minneapolis, Baltimore, Liverpool and Toronto.  All of the artists only heard the previous hybrid at any point.

The project finished with ‘Collapse’, a track by Landshapes.  This project will announce Landshapes’ forthcoming album ‘Contact’, which will be released in September 2020.

Accompanying the audio is a collaborative original artwork created in response to the music.  It comprises a 1.5m x 10m paper scroll developed in Cornwall by Gabriel Vyvyan and Sandra Goodenough.  They created their own visual hybrid of each track, using the abstraction of dance and physical movement to translate the sounds into gesture, then gesture into a purely visual medium.  Over a year in the planning and making, the scroll uses traditional materials such as ink, gesso and gold leaf to capture the essential dynamism of each track.