Krause is a professional soundscape ecologist, and he reveals the wisdom and insider secrets gained from decades of recording audio in the wild. As is probably no surprise, we humans are doing our best to ruin the world’s natural ‘biophony’, and replace it with our own ‘anthrophony’ of noise. For example, Krause, writing with the calm confidence of someone who genuinely is an expert in their field, tells the tale of recording forest sounds in the late 1980s in Lincoln Meadow, California, before and after a selective logging programme was undertaken.
While the forest may look almost identical, the vastly diminished soundscape reveals the impact which it had upon the forest’s wildlife, particularly native birds. You start to get a picture of what a poor understanding we have of the sounds of the natural world, and the impact we are having on it. Despite some truly inspiring stories, the book frequently leaves you stuck in nitty gritty discussions about the virtues of different types of microphones and methods of field note-taking. It momentarily breaks the rhythm of exploring the natural world through sound that Krause has led us into.
Nevertheless, his archive of sounds is repeatedly capable of returning us to the forest (or ocean, or savannah, or wherever he may be taking us). The deep rumble of a growling jaguar intertwined with the immersive sounds of the Amazon rainforest instinctively awakens the senses with each listen. This is an extremely positive contribution to our understanding of the natural world.
This review was published in the October 2016 edition of Geographical magazine.