Nature is wonderful at providing a whole palette of sounds and textures for musical expression, as an artist who uses field recordings in their music can attest. But what Music for Nature Documentaries shows us is that you don't necessarily have to be in nature in order to enjoy it. Released in April, this springtime release is an excellent collaboration between Dogs versus Shadows and Simon Klee that provides a range of compositions that range from gentle ambiance and processed noise to morphing synths and moderate rhythms.
Being split between the two artists, Dogs versus Shadows leads the album with the first six tracks. These tracks seem to eschew any noticeable rhythmic content and lean heavily into synths and processed field recordings. On the opener, "The Capybara," we are introduced to a synth melody that repeats throughout as it slowly morphs, degrades, and fades while accompanied by an odd processed noise in the background. This remains the case for the next two tracks, "Driftwood, Plankton" & "Shrews, Bats, The English Garden at Night," until track four, "Mawson Research Station." With this track, we hear a definitive shift in the tracks as they move away from synth melodies and lean hard into the noisier side of things until track six in which "Stygofauna" brings back the synths, although it is with a bit noisier quality. However, this track works excellently to bring in the next four tracks, all done by Simon Klee.
As Klee takes over the remainder of the album, the tracks become a bit more harmonic starting with "Butterfly Swarm." Deep, rich pads carry this track forward until joined by an arpeggiated synth that gives a slightly hectic quality to the track until it fades away and leaves only the pad once again. We're then treated to "Cubs at Play" with has the same slightly hectic quality and seems to also echo the first couple of tracks done by Dogs versus Shadows." For the final tracks, "Dancing Seahorses" leans heavily into the territory of soothing ambient with a delightful key-like synth on top. Then, "The Calm, The Chase, The Kill" gives us the impression that it may be more of the same until we hear a full-fledged rhythm for the first time. This rhythm drives the track forward to the end until it fades away and we are left with a heartbeat that slowly fades to a stop.
Music for Nature Documentaries is true to its name. It does not play as if it were just one documentary. Rather, it sounds as though it is the most memorable moments of hundreds of documentaries rolled into one. Both artists have successfully captured the spirit and aesthetic of these programs and translated it into a delightful excursion through music and texture that is complete with lush synths and spacious pads accompianed by the most wonderfully processed field recordings.