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by Tomáš Šenkyřík

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  • Cassette + Digital Album

    Limited edition cassette + Digital album. The cassette comes out together with contributions from Vít Bohal and Tomáš Šenkyřík. Bohal in his text describes the alternative way to understand the nightingale through speculative biology of Vilém Flusser, while Šenkyřík presents his hand-made field notes and motivations to take a trip to the places where nightingales sing their songs for last 40 years. Typo and design by Deep Throat Studio.

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A Side 23:35
B Side 24:52


---Highly recommended to listen with near-field monitors---

To Think Through the Nightingale

Bohemia 1978, 2017, 2018: The nightingale speaks, but what does it say?
Tw*rrrrrr rp chirup chr *chrrr rrr .... .. . ... ........ . ........... .. ... .... .. . ........ .. .
The patterns unwind like slips of the tongue weaving a cadence to time.
But that is not saying much.
How then to think through the nightingale?
Why not follow Vilém Flusser and attempt to unravel the Dasein of the nightingale through speculative biology? In his Vampyroteuthis Infernalis (1987), Flusser fleshes out the phenomenal existence of the deep-sea dwelling cephalopod of the same name. He questions the deep oily world of the oceans in order to frame inferences about the Vampyroteuthis’ being-in-the-world. Adopting a paranaturalist approach, Flusser and Louis Bec cut the animal on various tangents in order to tease out what it means to exist when one’s body is fostered from and for the ebbs and flows of the deep sea.
But the nightingale, although it also glides on currents unseen, is a being of the sky. It makes ground nests in the thickets and bramble of the European countrysides. Everywhere the nightingale flies, it brings with it noise and signal, the zeroes and ones of code. ‘What music is this?‘ asks Sir Henry Morton Stanley at Tanganyika Lake. What music indeed – the patterning is filigree. It is the single male nightingale who calls to attract the females. At night their screams keep lovers up from dreaming and tease cats out from summer shadows. ‘What music is this?’ Stanley asks.
Every year, the nightingale flies from its nesting place in Europe, migrating at low level altitudes tens of thousands of kilometers to get to its winter haven in Sub-Saharan Africa. The birds fly across a glistening Mediterranean, and transgress perpendicular onto coastlines crested with foam, in order to nest in the forests of the Côte d'Ivoire. In comparison with the vampyroteuthis, the bird much more employs a visual drive through which it navigates the landscape and assembles it into patterns of neural wiring.
When captured and caged, the nightingale withers and dies; if it lasts till the autumn it often bludgeons itself to death against the prison‘s walls, as it struggles to follow its migratory urge. The program locks in, prompting the bird to follow the proper migratory choreographies at their proper time; follow the itinerary. Lock it in a cage, and you have the first portable sound device which runs on hysteria. But the body of the bird is also a store of deep time: it contains the glacial whirling of the heavenly bodies, the patterned images of coasts and geographies of low information density, the topology of wind currents, the skill of steering via the streamlined aeronautics of the wing – all these are constitutive dispositions of the aviary.
In one of his interviews, William Burroughs says that humans have trouble identifying with birds, and that they prefer the mimicry of predators – the cats and the dogs that keep good company. Homo sapiens does not understand the bird; not in 1978, not now.
Although the nightingale speaks, we do not understand it.
(Vít Bohal)


Yesterday we came back from a wine tasting event where our friend told us that, come May, he would take us to listen to the nightingale singing at midnight. “Could you go with us and record it?”, he asked me. Immediately, I said yes. I had wished to record the nightingale at night for a longer time. We agreed to try it during midnight on May 14th (2017). That day was supposed to be a full moon which has a good effect on the nightingale’s singing. In the evening, while I was preparing my recording gear, I constantly heard in my head the feuilleton of Jan Skácel about
how Czechoslovak Radio recorded a nightingale in Židlochovice. The radio staff went to the Židlochivice park at that time. They took a bunch of magnetic tapes, cables and other kinds of equipment, carefully built and connect everything up, and waited. The Židlochovice nightingale was quiet and did not sing that night. According to the locals, the nightingales sang very loudly during the whole May. Only that day, as Jan Skácel wrote, birds were silent for incomprehensible reasons. When I set my recorder, microphones and parabola, and got into the car, I kept thinking about Skácel's writing. Will it be like it was with the Radio? When I reached the place and exited the car I felt a pleasant humidity and May's warm air. Dense steam went up from the fields nearby the Šatava river. A few steps later, I heard one or two nightingales. Their singing sounded acute into the quiet night. I recorded them for more then an hour without
changing place. I forgot about the time and recording likewise. For me it seemed to be that the nightingale was giving me a message about the unique harmony of nature. At around two in the morning we were sitting on the terrace of my friend who organized the trip to hear the nightingales. He thought back to a time 40 years ago when he went with his wife to the same place in order to listen to the nightingale. He told me that somewhere he still has audiotape recordings of the nightingale from the same places, recorded in 1978. He found it and we digitalized it together with Skupina.
The album you are going to hear starts with the recording from the late 1970s. There are three time zones in total. The years of 1978, 2017 and 2018. The second side of the album is dedicated to the place and time without the bird. It is a portrait of a place, how it sounds when the bird is not present, when the trees are swelled by chilly wind, when ice floes float on the Šatava river. But somewhere in the head we can still hear its singing, or at least we suspect it’s there.
(Tomáš Šenkyřík)


released May 5, 2019

Recorded by Tomáš Šenkyřík, Libor Měřínský
Mixed by Tomáš Šenkyřík
Mastered by Giuseppe Ielasi
Design by Deep Throat Studio
Thanks to my family, Libor Měřinský, Leoš Koukal, Ján and Filip


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Skupina Brno, Czech Republic

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