Field Work’s stunning new record, Ultrasonic, is likely the first album in history to be filled entirely with music that is built around recordings of bats.
Stuart Hyatt, the National Geographic Explorer and grammy-nominated artist behind Field Works, has taken samples of the echolocation of bats, and with the help of several contributing musicians like Mary Lattimore, Kelly Moran and Player Piano, manipulated and distorted them into sprawling ambient soundscapes.
On songs like Eluvium’s “Dusk Tempi” and “Kelelawar,” by Machinefabriek, the amplified bat calls pulsate and chitter like spasming synthesizers. Meanwhile, a mix of electronic and acoustic instruments flow under and around these processed field recordings, and respond with stuttering rhythms and melodies that mimic these repetitive sounds.
Like many of Field Works’ records, the resulting tracks here are imbued with a calming, natural beauty, which brings to light a subtle world of elegance that has gone completely unnoticed by mankind. Tracks like “Echo Affinity” by Taylor Deupree feel deeply inspired and guided by the poetic splendor of these tiny, winged mammals, as they use their voices to search for food in the night sky.
Bats at large, are still unfairly misunderstood creatures, and their role in the global ecosystem cannot be stressed enough, so it is absolutely dire to have moving works of art, like Ultrasonic, to raise awareness and bring understanding to these at-risk animals. According to the liner notes, this album is specifically “part of a broader storytelling project about the federally endangered Indiana Bat.” Based on the strength of this release alone, the rest of this overarching project is bound to be vastly fascinating. You can grab this album and read more about Field Works here.