Patience is a virtue. Particularly when it comes to field recordings. That’s the attitude Joel Schalit took with the work he chose for This is What Europe Sounds Like.
Consisting of sounds captured across Europe between 2009 and 2020, The Battleground editor’s idea was to slowly catalogue everything he heard into a cohesive album-length work.
Landing first in London in 2008, moving to Milano, Torino, Brussels and finally Berlin, This is What Europe Sounds Like is in part a diary of this journey and an experiment in sonic reportage.
A big fan of field recording records, Schalit went in the opposite direction of the genre and focused on politics instead of nature. Demonstrations, to be precise, big and small, organised and impromptu.
The historical setting provided ideal source material. First, there was the financial crisis. Then there was the Arab Spring, followed by the refugee crisis, and several Mideast wars.
Few parts of the world felt more transformed by these events than Europe. From pro-migrant and Kurdish protests to marching steelworkers and homeless Roma begging for food, it’s all there.
This is What Europe Sounds Like distils the era into its own soundtrack, capturing the halfway point between music and current events, when it becomes impossible to separate them anymore.
This is What Europe Sounds Like was produced and mastered by composer/musician Raz Mesinai (Incitement). Philippe Nicolas (New York Times, Wired) helmed the design. Photograph courtesy of Joel Schalit.