Jonathan Kawchuk's latest album is a reflection of nature
By Sophia Yang | June 22, 2022
Canadian wildlife recordist and composer Jonathan Kawchuk started recording nature sounds on his field recorder one summer when he failed to make it into Volleyball Alberta Premier tournament. Now that setting up equipment in the mountains has become his meditative routine, Kawchuk is releasing his sophomore album, Everywhen, a collection of memories collaborating with the atmosphere and sounds of the Rocky Mountains in Kananaskis, Alberta.
“I love the feeling of almost melting into nature,” says Kawchuk. “When I was in the Rockies, I’d press my hands on a piece of rock and feel the space between my body and nature dissolve. I know I can never truly melt through the physical boundaries, but field recording lets me hold on to the transcendent feeling of everything happening all at once.”
Through a six-year span of experimenting in nature and studio composing, Kawchuk recorded the playback of all tracks of Everywhen in the mountains in 3D Dolby Atmos. Everyday during the past year, he loaded up his car with 12 speakers and 12 microphones, drove to an offseason campsite near Kananaskis, set up the gears, and sat for a whole day to record the playbacks in the Rockies.
“When you’re field recording, you don’t want to move and let the fabric noise ruin the track, not to mention there could be noise pollution from trains and helicopters,” recalls Kawchuk. “Not many people realize how mentally challenging it is. It’s quite bizarre to sit in the cold, be in hyper-focus for hours, surrounded by recording equipment in nature and feel the slow pace of time.”
While Everywhen is not a sequel to his 2015 debut release North, Kawchuk sees it as a perfected version of the former narratives.
“Everywhen is…different. It’s all about sincerity. The goal was never to make a hardcore technical album, but we had to improvise a lot throughout the production, simply because the softwares and technology we used for studio recording was not enough to capture a full breadth of nature’s reality.”
By “nature’s reality,” Kawchuk gives the best definition of a romantic admiration of the sublime: “A strange blend of fear, calm, exhaustion, the overpowering beauty, all at once. I want people to listen to this album, and think, wow, that was a heavy experience.”
Kawchuk’s recently released singles, “Syrinx,” “Solar Plexus” and “Everywwhen,” give a taste of the compelling sensations of the album. From the impulsive capturing of the Rockies to harmonious chorus of vocals, then to an irruptive snap into silence, Kawchuk surely was right about “preserving a record of what it felt like to desire melting into that place.”