Outstanding release. Five years in the making, David Rothenberg’s Nightingales in Berlin project includes a book, a film, many live concerts, and this double CD, including a 20 page color booklet of stills from the film and music not available in any form online. Here’s what Rothenberg says about the project: “I used to make interspecies music largely on my own, seeing myself as some kind of individual explorer seeking out musical ideas with creatures we can’t even talk to. But in recent years I’ve decided that the point of musical contact with another species is to convince other people to join me. Over five years, from 2014 through 2019, I invited the best and most adventurous musicians I know to connect in musical collaboration—humans with nightingales, in Berlin and Helsinki.
The nightingales have helped me find the perfect sound. By assembling just the right group of kindred spirits, together we dream of a way that humans and nature might live closer together. Our species is warming the planet beyond recognition, and this could mean the end of our reign over this place. Yet there are still these moments during which humans can touch nature through sound happening all around us, as we make music along with the nightingales of Helsinki and Berlin. The paths to animal music sit right before us.
I love to listen to different musicians respond to the song of the nightingale for the very first time. I have played with these birds for several years now, and sometimes I wonder why I keep trying to make music with musicians with whom I cannot speak, who live as birds—such different lives than people who may join the band. Some human critics think it’s all delusion, that I intrude upon the birds’ ancient world of perfect sound and struggle, but whenever I bring a new musician along to play with nightingales, I realize why I began this process in the first place. We all feel such joy and hope when music can carry meaning from one species to another. The planet becomes a more harmonious place.”