Michael Reiley and his ECHOZOO project is a recreation of the sounds of extinct animals brought through, or summoned upon to speak, in the present day.
For years while at City Paper, I found myself writing often about the sonic exploits of Philadelphia acousmatic/electronic composer, player, pray-er and sound sculptor Michael Reiley. Sometimes, that meant McDermott in collaboration with fellow like-minded artists such as Bilwa and John Shenk, Sometimes that meant his more aggressive outings when he recorded as part of Gemini Wolf with ethereal vocalist Pandar (their Infinite Sand Dunes LP is still a favorite). More often than not, that meant, for Michael, being Mikronesia and creating textural isolationist scores and subtly frantic field recordings that inhabited meditative spiritual realms, windless valleys, ghost sectors and such.
Not only has Michael/Mikronesia entitled his work, “sonic photography,” he’s stated in his bio that his “process involves site-specific recordings of physical locations, re-imagined using digital processing techniques analogous to photographic development and collage” and that “his aim is to reframe the everyday world both as grand statement that stretches out in all directions of time and as ephemeral instant of precious connection.” Since our last talk, Michael/Mikronesia had completed a certification program in Deep Listening studying with Deep Listening pioneer Pauline Oliveros. That means he walks it like talks it… Or at the very most, lives it like he sleeps it.
Currently – or for the last four years – that dream has meant a project he’s been focused on with sainted devotion – ECHOZOO and its recreation of the sounds of extinct animals brought through, or summoned upon to speak, in the present day.
You can hear Echozoo HERE and the wonder of the chicken-like Tympanuchus cupido cupido, the clattering Solenodon Marcanoi, and the ominously moose-ish Cervalces Scotti – all with landscape diagrams, real and imaginary as to where they’re located literally and figuratively.
This “audio portal to the past, an invitation to the present, and an urgent message to the future,” takes what was imagined of gone mammals from present-day field recordings of living animals and digging into their sonic DNA. These newly immersive audio experiences, based on the recollections of “long-silenced voices” are re-sounded and heard within an “imagined soundscape of their habitats”
Mikronesia’s real hope is that we gather information on these “imagined ecosystems together with these ancestors in a powerful meditation on nature and the current loss of biodiversity in our natural world.”