The Art of Field Recording

What we're listening to these days: The Art of Field Recording, Vol. 1, a 4-CD collection that comes with an illustrated book explaining the history of the songs. The collection is the life's work of two archivists - Art and Margo Rosenbaum - who spent half a century traveling around the country recording obscure backwoods artists. It includes hymns, blues, gospel, chain gang songs, and parlour tunes...and has to be heard to be believed.

Pitchfork: "Even when Art and Margo are, ostensibly, acting as silent observers, it is still possible to sense the Rosenbaums' presence, and some of the interview-heavy cuts (see Mary Heekin's rendition of "Lord Randolph," from Disc 1) expose Art and Margo's investment in their work. The narrations included here can be as telling as the songs themselves."

WSJ: "This four-disc set offers a sweeping survey of the American folk tradition, including blues, work songs, Mexican corridos, and more. Many of the recordings — which range from 94-year-old Sister Fleeta Mitchell's "I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord" to 7-year-old Ray Rhodes's true-crime ballad "Fred Adams" — appear on CD for the first time."

Fascinating stuff, and a perfect gift for the music lover in your life.

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