Listencorp review image of travel log radio by greg nieuwsma

Travel Log Radio

Greg Nieuwsma


Liam Murphy

June 16, 2020

Tracks in this feature

Tracks in this release

Greg Nieuwsma’s Travel Log Radio begins with Italy 2019. Heavenly sounds begin to emanate from the track, euphoric strings pulled backwards towards the listener as they are enveloped in a torrent of noise. The melody sounds fairly simple. But, cloaked in an epic reverb, it takes on this gargantuan quality. Lower notes sound like trumpets ringing out from the depths of some great sea of sound. A voice peels away from the repetitive pattern, just before the angelic sound begins to fade. The listener begins to feel submerged, as gurgling water fills the stereo field. The artist departs from the abstract beginnings and places us directly inside a remembrance from his travels, sounds of water replaced gradually by heavy machinery. The listener’s role is spectatorial. We relive Greg Nieuwsma’s experiences, see them through his eyes. We follow his path initially, unable to deviate or divert. A flurry of birds begins to chirp as the track moves from dissonance to chaotic, melodious sound for a short while. The listener’s focus is shifted along fairly swiftly, as if these memories were laid out in some sort of funhouse format, and an invisible hand shuffles us from one dark room to the next. A strange energy begins to emit alongside an echoed voice, dictating confidently. That same strange energy starts to take control of the memory, as an eerie glitching melody drifts towards us. Voices can be heard, but very far away. It’s as if we’ve found ourselves in some place of ancient importance as someone far away gives a powerful sermon. Unable to move from Greg’s path, we stay, experiencing this strange moment alongside him, the atmosphere charged with a religious but very personal importance. The tune slowly disappears. We fade into the main hall of the church, catching what sounds to be the last minutes of mass, or some mass-like event. Familiar organ chords hum as a voice gesticulates from the pulpit.

The artist illustrates clearly a contrast between his first two subjects as Morocco 2015 starts with a voice crooning carnatically. Parts of the voice disappear down the rip in time we’ve just travelled through. The echoes of the man’s voice, harmonising effortlessly with his vocals. Tumultuous percussion starts to bubble up, we instantly hear the heat of the Moroccan landscape, the chaotic happenings of a market street. Drum patterns fall over each other, momentum building as Greg guides us to some talented tabla players in the throng of the street. Like some sort of sentient energy, we glide down the street as chanting and singing mix fluidly with other sounds nearby. An upright bass begins to push through to the front of the mix, in a frenzied repetition that picks up speed rapidly. The artist places us in the very epicentre of the sound, the group performing all around us. More singing utilising Arabic scales as a man sings through a tinny speaker system, a massive contrast from the chaos of the busy street before.

We travel eastward for the third installation, India 2018. A studio quality recording greets us, a man speaking dramatically between an immediately entrancing rhythmic melody. This crisp and defined sound starts to become ensnared in ghostly voices. Droning melodies erupt from what sounds like some sort of echoing tunnel. Greg shifts our surroundings swiftly once again, shuffling through memories faster than we can comprehend entirely what we are hearing. A high pitched instrument makes its way out of the murky background noise, a small snippet playing from some nearby radio or speaker. The artist reversing the sounds at certain points to further distort our impression of them. More beautiful singing curved so delicately into a small, reverberated space. Each trill and intricate note singing out with added resonance. Pulled away with a sense of urgency, led towards a television set blurting out a brief advertising message to then fall through the floor into a large area where percussion thunders against the walls. The artist’s cuts between memories are frantic at points, as if he is hurrying us along.

We pull back into the western world as Travel Log Radio concludes. A deep thumping sound unfurls into some sort of crowded American transport platform. Rain pulls in, surrounding the warmth of the voices we can hear. The scene disintegrates into a cloud of smoke as we are met with echoed strings, another moment of emotional purity in the midst of very explicitly found sounds. Is this merely something the artist recorded on their travels? Or have the recordings been affected by the time they have spent dormant? A shroud of rain inches in once again, bringing with it an American voice reminding of us of our current locale. Old warbling American songs play with a tinny quaintness. The strings continue, joined by brass instruments, finding their way through emotive sequences at some points, and veering off wildly at others. As the listener is enveloped solely into the sound, a keen-eared person may be able to hear the melody of John Coltrane’s My Favourite Things. Greg not being able to showcase to us the United States, without unveiling that thick vessel of jazz energy that exists there, no matter what the country’s current political situation. A disembodies voice announces track numbers, her businesslike tone stumbling over itself as the artist pastes layers of her on top of one another. One’s mind drifts to ponder the modern American condition. The past tracks were alive with life, whereas this track has a limp, uncanny quality to it. But that smouldering energy of the trumpet weaves its way into the back of the mix and begins to thunder toward the front as we conclude.

Greg Nieuwsma states clearly on his bandcamp that ‘all sound sources on this record came from field recordings’. Everything has been recycled from the real world. However, there are many moments in the project that resonate with a quality that seems to have emerged after the initial field recording stage. Travel Log Radio seems to be tinged, or augmented somehow by the act of remembrance. The residual dust of the memories very aura seems to lacquer certain parts of the 4-track experience. This incredible achievement aside, the artist presents each trip in a beautiful way. Swaying us gently at points, and brusquely at others, from real situations to euphoric experiences.