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Curlew Sounds

01/06/2022Merlyn Driver And The RSPB Release A Majestic Comp To Support One Of The UK's Most Iconic And Endangered Birds

Waking up at the crack of dawn to a chirpy chorus of bird song these past weeks has been a welcome though slightly discordant event, yet one we ought to be grateful for, especially us city dwellers. As nature continues to make itself heard amidst the perils of climate change and general human sprawl, one might wonder, if sometime in the near future, this will no longer be case. Reminding us of the precarious situation of modern-day fowl and one bird in particular is this extraordinary, recently released multi-artist project, initiated by Orkney-born musician Merlyn Driver and realised with the support of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). 

"Simmerdim: Curlew Sounds" calls attention to the plight of "one of the UK's most iconic and endangered birds, the Eurasian curlew," whose population has decreased by 48% since the mid-1990s. This inspired Merlyn Driver to commission "fellow artists from the UK, as well as from countries where some of [the] curlews migrate to and from, [...] to create new curlew-inspired pieces. He's compiled this beautiful music, along with curlew soundscapes recorded at the bird's remaining hotspots throughout the UK" onto a unique double album, now released as part of the RSPB'S Curlew Sounds Project. With a total of 22 tracks and field recordings well worth downloading in the highest quality, this stunning collection includes musical contributions by a wide array of artists from around the globe:

On it, you will find Finnish vocal performance group Tuuletar, British singer-songwriter David Gray, English multi-instrumentalist Cosmo Sheldrake, Merlyn Driver himself collaborating with Australian-born double-bass player and multi-instrumentalist Nathan Riki Thomson, South Sámi yoiker and singer Marja Mortensson alongside Norwegian jazz tubist Daniel Herskedal, English folk group The Unthanks, fellow English musician, producer and composer Talvin Singh, English-born and Paris-based producer extraordinaire El Búho joining musical forces with none other than US philosopher and jazz musician "with a special interest in animal sounds as music," David Rothenberg, Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker, Estonian nu-folk duo Puuluup, London-based and Nigerian-born saxophone player Camilla George together with fellow saxophonist and multi-wind player Tamar Osborn as well as UK composer Tiny Leaves.

The result is a brilliant ensemble of atmospheric and ethereal compositions, some emulating, some including the curlew's characteristic 'curi-li' call, as well as some actual field recordings captured by Merlyn Driver across the UK, all sure to fascinate and delight audiophiles, nature-lovers and full-fledged ornithologists alike. Bringing to the forefront "one of the most evocative sounds of the British countryside" and the unsure future of the magnificent bird producing it, "Simmerdim: Curlew Sounds" not only provides a wonderful listening experience for all ages, but also raises awareness for a worthy cause, a bird call for support so to speak. 100% of the compilation's proceeds will be donated to the RSPB's Curlew Recovery Programme. 

Click on the player below to stream/buy the full release and make your contribution. For more information you might also visit the project website, where you can even download a special Curlew ringtone. Feel free to spread the bird, uhm, word.

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom