I work very slowly, hence songs for forgetting has been in development for a very long time. The first element, a large sand timer, was recorded in Cologne, Germany in August, 2007. Further field recordings were made of rain dripping through Soviet-era gutter spouts in the small Estonian village of Tõravere (which happens to be home to northern Europe’s largest optical telescope) later that same month; daytime fireworks (mascleta, set off for sound rather than light) in Valencia, Spain (March, 2008); a pebble beach in Étretat, France (June, 2008); underwater life in a branch of the Andelle River in Perruel, France (May, 2009); and, more recently, the rain gutters at my current home in Põlgaste, Estonia (September, 2013) and the stridulation and footfalls of an inadvertently disturbed ant colony on Kemiö Island, Finland (July, 2014).
But the force that brought all these recordings together was an inadvertent tendency towards instrumental recordings, which feature in each of these ’songs‘. These instruments were all unfamiliar, and in some cases they were not ‚instruments‘ at all, in the literal sense of the word, but objects or spaces that nonetheless lent themselves to being played. I encountered them around the same time as the recordings mentioned above were being made, and recorded my explorations and improvisations, sometimes alone, sometimes with other players.
The first of these instruments was small and zither-like. It was, I learned only recently, a miniature Ukrainian bandura, and it was in an apartment in Berlin where I stayed during a visit in August, 2007. The apartment was the home of another sound artist whose name, Jeff Gburek, I’d known for years, but whom I had never (and still have not) met in person. He was out of town at the time; he didn’t know for years that I played and recorded his instrument (although, thanks to this release, he does now).
The next instrument was an old radio antenna, on the roof of the aforementioned observatory telescope in Tõravere, which sang a predetermined melody when you bowed it, which I did together with a native of that village, Piibe Kolka, in August, 2007 (Piibe’s bowing can be heard in ‘the third song for forgetting’). And in December of that year, in Vienna, Austria, I recorded an improvisation with the debris and trash under a small pedestrian bridge with Lasse-Marc Riek, who coincidentally co-curates the Gruenrekorder label, and visual artist Elffriede (this action can be heard in ‘a fourth song for forgetting’).
In February of the next year, while staying with Maksims Šentelevs in Riga, Latvia, I experimented with one of the many instruments in his collection, a small kora. And a year later in February, 2009 I recorded another tabletop zither, given to me by an old housemate from my time in London, the singer-songwriter Sam Semple, playing it with a small motor also given to me by Max from Riga.
With all the elements collected, the songs began to come together, very slowly, beginning in that summer of 2007, and finishing only now as this release is being prepared. They were built often in response to specific emotional situations, situations that demanded some forgetting themselves, so the title can be read two ways: what you forget is up to you.
A brief word about some elements of the design of the physical version of this release, which is the work of Vahram Muradyan, using elements from my own collection of found objects and detritus, which are printed and embossed on sleeves made for us by the Räpina Paper Factory, here in southeast Estonia, using 100% additive-free recycled fibre: the front image is a reproduction of a leaf skeleton that I have had for some years – I can’t remember exactly where or when I found it, but I believe it is an aspen leaf from an Estonian forest. I have fond memories of recording aspen leaves in these forests, as they tremble in the wind. The maple and grape leaves that denote sides A and B of the vinyl were collected for their colors while traveling in France one autumn. The writing on the inner sleeve comes from one of several old school notebooks found in a mill ruin near my home, water-damaged and sun-faded, and mostly illegible. These notebooks make me think of memory and its loss, the fading away of the past. Included with the physical version is an original fragment of one of these notebooks.
Without the following people (along with those mentioned above) this release would not have been possible: Tuuli Tubin McGinley, Oliivia Tubin McGinley, Lasse-Marc Riek, Roland Etzin, Joshua Kunisch, Vahram Muradyan, Felicity Ford, Helmut Erler (who mastered the album at Dubplates & Mastering in Berlin), and Mihkel Peedimaa (from the Räpina Paper Factory, who made and donated the sleeves). Furthermore, this release has been produced with the help of a number of supporters, to whom I express my sincerest gratitude: Ariel Vitello, Bob Maier, Carole Kojo, Daniel McGinley, Eckhard Kuchenbecker, Greg Burrell, Hao-Tsun Kuo, Hitoshi Kojo, Irvic D’Olivier, James Bailey, Jonathan Coleclough, Julia Kümmel, Lauri Laanisto, Maren Möhring, Mark Stanley, Martin Clarke, Mike DePolo, Paul Fay, Udo Noll, and my colleagues at Resonance FM.
Patrick Tubin McGinley, April/October 2016