Janek Schaefer | Weather Report
Alluvial Recordings | AB-CD
From the man who became synonymous with a precision-engineered three-armed turntable (as featured in The Guinness Book of Records no less), yet another concept-bending project...
Armed with a dictaphone, a mobile phone and, I'm sure, various other 'low resolution' recording devices Schaefer set out to document, in as many ways as were to hand, everyday Minnesota weather - its monitoring, recording, forecasting, reporting and its effect on local Minnesotans. The result is packaged with a colourful booklet snapshotting the project.
'Weather Report' opens with a voice message sent from the recent past by a mobile phone suspended from a weather balloon. As the balloon inflates Schaefer's voice can be heard introducing the project, "Up, up and away!" he cries as it floats upwards buffeted by the breeze. Into earshot drift the sounds of a distant plane, a dog barking and birds twittering.
In what follows nothing weather-related is left out. The unidentifiable and the commonplace - wind, ice underfoot, leaf blowers, snowflakes and rain (everything from drip-drip-drip to cats and dogs) - are intercut with local and archival TV and radio weather flashes. Mid track the blue/black sounds of a thunderstorm loom to form a kind of centre piece.
Anticipation (Reporter: "That red donut is evidence of strong rotation in the low levels of the atmosphere...) and aftermath (Interviewer: "You were blown out through the wall?") are eventually joined by a veritable welter of weather-words uttered, it seems, by every weatherperson in Minnesota.
The collage effect is further emphasised by Schaefer's use of time lapse material, recalling his wonderful dictaphone-in-a-package-through-the-post project 'Recorded Delivery'. As the composition ends Janek and friends are heard heading out to retrieve the dictaphone. They have guns. Shots ring out. The balloon bursts and the recording device parachutes to the ground. "End of message." An alternative soundtrack to a walk in your local park or down the street.