CRAFTING THE FIELD - Melanie Velarde

Melanie Dizon
March 26, 2022
Artist Melanie Velarde maps a soundscape into the forests and the stories of the Matsigenka.

CRAFTING THE FIELD a Xapiri Ground series


Crafting the Field is a sound series that explores rainforest field recordings from the Peruvian Amazon with artists and indigenous communities.
Here, the artist explores nature as “concept and source” material and imagines it in a musical context. This concept brings artists and their contemporaries together to craft a new language around the conservation of rainforest culture by working with the forest’s acoustic environment (or soundscape ecology) and the rich lexicon of indigenous communities living in the Peruvian Amazon with whom we have relations.
Through collaborations with sound artists and music producers alike, field recorded materials are transformed into electronic ambient soundscapes where the listener can experience the relevance of the rainforest and indigenous culture.

For this series, we introduce the German-Peruvian artist Melanie Velarde who worked with some of our original field recordings taken during our expeditions into the Matsigenka community of Shipetiari.
The Matsigenka are an Amazonian indigenous people, who live between the departments of Cusco and Madre de Dios in the Manu National Reserve; one of the largest biospheres in the world. The Matsigenka have been able to maintain their culture and identity through the centuries, passing through the Conquest, the Republic, the armed conflict and their greatest struggle today, the development of hydrocarbon exploitation activities, deforestation and climate change.
Melanie Velarde gives us the opportunity to approach this community aurally, with compositions based on *sound recordings from their natural setting, fauna and activities, such as the song of Lola while "threading" cotton, songs of power for the preparation of snuff using tobacco leaves by Samuel, or Gregorio telling a story of the spider and the origin of cotton. 
In Velarde's words, she composes through a "flow from the subconscious", thus complementing these recordings with dreamy melodies, hypnotic rhythms and multi-layered textures, opening for us a "window" into the soundscape of this community, in a dreamlike and meditative way of this millenary culture.

Curation by: Mariano León (Behuá Icára)
Mastering by Christian Mun

*Field recordings were conducted by Xapiri Ground and originate from their expeditions into the Matsigenka community of Shipetiari, located in the Manu Biosphere Reserve, in the Peruvian Amazon.

Purchase this track on our Bandcamp page.

BIOGRAPHY | Melanie Velarde

Melanie Velarde is a German-Peruvian electroacoustic composer and improviser who creates soundtracks for imaginary plots and places. Her practice includes composition, performance and video work. She has expressed herself across multiple genres and continents, from Ambient to Noise, and has developed an extensive collection of field recordings spanning deserts, seas, mountains, jungles, caves, tunnels and volcanoes in the Americas, Europe, China and Australia. Melanie Velarde maintains a sonic diary/blog called 'Temporary Archives', archiving cinematic doodles over the last decade. She has released two albums, 'Parcel' and 'Bez' on RVNG Intl. / Commend in New York, 'Deep Circles' on Longform Editions in Australia, and has participated in the latest compilation of the pro-funding label Behuá Icára.

Melanie Velarde is supported by Neu Start Kultur