The album Symposium Musicum is developed from field recordings, interviews, and observations collected in the villages of Podolínec, Lomnička, Levočské Vrchy, and Kolačkov - all areas of the eastern and north-eastern Slovakia with significant Romani enclaves. The pieces resulting from these interactions encourage the listener to tune in for a delicate negotiation of language, (audible) gesture, and storytelling.
The collaboration with the local participants appears lighthearted and whimsical on the records, but this seeming easiness is clearly a result of devoted fieldwork planning and committed post-production. The curated compositions represent and emphasize not only performative aspects of the acoustic activities but also point attention to seemingly non-productive aspects of creation, such as silence, hesitation, observation, perception, or waiting.
Sound experiment and preservation is not the only goal of the project. Some of the records capturing acoustic activities in peculiar places but also carry an element of social novelty that accompanied their making - according to the locals in Lomnička, the recording visitors were the first non-Romani persons who spent the night in the village.
In many instances, these recordings explore liminal spaces that have lost their original function (a church ruin or an out-of-business grocery store) and became a lively territory for acoustic exploration and playful reciprocity. For instance, in track 7, "Kavka", local children used crackling leaves as percussion devices.
Such moments betray a high level of engagement in the subtle details of the recorded spaces and their social ecologies. According to the creators, their creative processes involve "a social sound practice" as an attitude towards exploring sound in its social setting.
Symposium Musicum leaves behind many aesthetic conventions of sound capture and what is considered "musical", including the usual notions of a linguistic unit, narrative, memoir, and play. Instead, it engages in a self-reflective questioning of the way we listen to the world around us.
This project invites us to experience places outside the divided sociolinguistic provinces, resulting from multigenerational displacement and neglect of the Romani communities from the explored areas. The result is in many ways revelatory and poetically impactful.