Land Sea Sky is certainly not rock music, but it’s elemental like a weathered stone, and similarly resists any kind of interrogation. This is music as stripped down to its fundamental components as possible. It just simply is. Yet, like a rock, for those who speak the language of geology or sound, there are many stories to be heard, if you listen closely. On first impression, it may read like free improvisation, but this piece is in fact composed. Experimental Music Unit is the Victoria, B.C., trio of Tina Pearson (voice, flute, rattles, and, indeed, rocks), George Tzanetakis (clarinets, kaval flute) and Paul Walde (percussion, natural materials). Land Sea Sky was a product of the pandemic and, despite its grounding in the organic world, t­he material came out of the long-running group’s collaboration over networked platforms. Desiring to play together outside during the strange days of bubbles and distancing, the thirty-eight-minute piece, based on a text score by Pearson, was first performed and recorded in March 2021 at Finnerty Cove, a stony inlet on the east coast of the Salish Sea’s Haro Strait, just outside of the provincial capital.
Land Sea Sky is a piece of surprising warmth, considering its outdoor, seaside birth in the late Canadian winter. The three musicians set up in a triangle twenty to fifty feet apart, and each recorded their own audio track incorporating the ambient soundscape of the shore along with their instruments, which were later overlaid in an audio mix. A subtle symphony of squawks, taps, and breaths engages in unrushed conversation with wind and waves. Dedicated to their late friend Raj Sen, director of Victoria’s Open Space arts centre, Land Sea Sky is inspired by “the beautiful openness and generosity of Raj’s spirit.”
It’s a recording best enjoyed with high-quality headphones, a cup of freshly brewed coffee, a relaxed mind, and your full attention.