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Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes

by Rob Frye

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Cloudspur 04:51
Grasslands 03:41
Psychopomp 01:30
Mountaingem 03:10


Ballroom Marfa is excited to announce Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes, a new album from musician and birder Rob Frye (Bitchin Bajas, CAVE, Flux Bikes). This commissioned album is inspired by the diverse avian populations of West Texas and features the sounds of Frye's handmade instruments intertwined with field recordings and birdsong selected from Xeno-canto. With Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes, Frye tunes in to the subtle consciousness of the natural world and dives deep into the sonic landscape of the Big Bend.

Positioned along migratory routes from South America to Canada, the Chihuahuan Desert region of West Texas is home to one of the most diverse bird populations in the Northern Hemisphere. During Frye’s Ballroom residency in May 2020, he identified 74 unique species of birds while exploring the ecoregion. Unfortunately, global bird populations are declining just as humans are beginning to understand their evolutionary sounds and adaptations.

These six original compositions highlight bird sounds from the region, using granular synthesis to produce a series of vignettes supplemented by a rich texture of flutes handmade by Frye from invasive grasses collected on the banks of the Rio Grande. The pieces feature samples of the Lesser Nighthawk, Baird’s Sparrow, Blue-throated Mountaingem, Eastern Meadowlark, and more. Their songs permeate the music that is an organic West Texas sound bath, where the hypnotic woodwinds and synthesizers familiar from the artist's work with Bitchin Bajas intermingle with manipulated trills, warbles, and whistles. It’s as if Frye was hosting a free-form deep listening session with field recording guru Irv Teibel and an ornithologically-focused DJ Screw at the controls.

Fifty percent of proceeds will benefit two West Texas conservation organizations: Borderlands Research Institute for Natural Resource Management [ ] and Rio Grande Joint Venture [ ], in support of their work protecting the natural resources of the Chihuahuan Desert through research, education, and outreach.


released October 23, 2020

Rob Frye — synthesizers, handmade flutes, processing
Xeno-canto Recordists — Paul Marvin, Bruce Lagerquist, Manuel Grosselet, Matt Baumann, Andrew Spencer, Justin Watts, Chris Harrison, Ricard E. Webster, Ross Gallardy.

Recorded at Ballroom Marfa and Marfa Recording Company, Marfa, TX
Mastered by Rachel Alina
Album Photograph by James Evans

Commissioned by Ballroom Marfa
Organized by Ballroom Marfa Programs Director Sarah Melendez

Chihuahuan Desert Birdscapes is made possible by the generous support of The Brown Foundation, Inc.; Lebermann Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; Texas Commission on the Arts; Ballroom Marfa Board of Trustees; the Ballroom Marfa International Surf Club; and Ballroom Marfa members.

Special thanks to Borderlands Research Institute, Chihuahuan Desert Research Institute, Lisa Gordon, Marfa Recording Company, Rio Grande Joint Venture, Aimee Roberson, and Mieke Titulaer.


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Flux Bikes, Sueñolas, Birdscapes, Exoplanet

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