Svaixt – Lo (C40, Terror)

svaixt lo

Svaixt offers up three tracks (or parts, as they are referred to by track titles) of found sound gleaned from travelings to the Tibetan land of Upper Mustang, a difficult place to reach that is very enlightening to the individual. This cassette comes packaged in an orange silk-screened bag, along with a pamphlet of photographs and liner notes explaining the origin of the sounds on each track along with the overall experience of being in Upper Mustang.

With Lo, the package is more important as a whole than simply listening to the tape; the liner notes give context to the noises on the tape, and thanks to the last page of the pamphlet, we’re told exactly what makes up each part of the tracks. There are bell dings, low murmers of voices, windy flappings, rushing water, and the drone and hum of prayer. Each track has moments of interest, but overall Svaixt collects various found sounds without curating them into cohesion.

Thus, Lo is sometimes a frustrating listen. The flapping of a flag gives interesting texture, as do drones of prayer. But Svaixt also forces us to sit through tape hiss and relative silence; this might be hypnotic or symbolic in person, but as a listener it just feels like silence. That’s where the liner notes come in to add some depth to what the tracks offer.

However, it often feels like we as a listener are simply listening to the travels of someone else. The aura of the experience is missing from the audio recording; it might have been enlightening to experience, but listening to it secondhand loses some of the luster.

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