Friendly note: the author of this article, Fili 周 Gibbons, identifies in plural terms and pronouns (we/they/us). When writing in plural they may be referring to themselves.
Located on the southernmost point of Oaxaca state, Mexico, in the region of Mazunte… Punta Cometa (‘Comet Point’), is a peninsula of rocky hill and steep cliff extending out into the Pacific ocean. Below the cliffs, driven by winds of several directions, waves roll and crash in dramatic cascades. We are surrounded by ocean, extending all the way out to the horizon in the east, south and west.
Also known as ‘el Cerro Sagrado’ (’sacred hill’), this landscape is situated on present-day Zapotec lands and cared for by local community who have advanced initiatives to preserve it, registering it officially as an archaeological site in 2017. A square stone foundation is found on one of the cliffs, believed to be an astronomical observatory dating from the ancient Mixtec culture ca. 900BC.
Special thanks to our corazón Aura Arreola for bringing us to this sacred place, and and for this time of listening and recording together.
Peppered with winds and rain, we made our way down the hill to this cliffside and found a clearing where it was calm enough to record. The sunset was incredible, stretching from the west across the ocean and casting a golden light across the vegetation, multicoloured stones, and magnetic sands of volcanic rock.
In this recording you can hear the sound of waters as they ebb and flow in large waves, sometimes crashing and pouring over the rock, at other times tracing along its edge, curling into basins below the cliffs in dancing pools of foam.
Water is a challenge to record. A fluid body of constantly varying size, dancing in all directions at once. And it’s a good teacher… showing us how limited our recording tools are.
The main character of water sounds in open air comes from the high frequencies at the upper limit of human hearing. Even the best audio tools have a hard time reproducing those sounds (due to many factors like distortion, aliasing, filtering, and compression for streaming over the web).
It’s not usually very easy to perceive the changes our sounds go through when we play them back into our daily life and environment — on podcasts, Youtube, SoundCloud, Spotify etc. Recording and listening to the sounds of water and other nature sounds can make this difference a lot more clear.
Field Recording made with respect at Reserva Eco-Arqueologica Punta Cometa (Punta Cometa Eco-archaological Reserve) of Mazunte, Oaxaca (Mexico), September 29 2022, 5pm.
Recordists: Aura Arreola, Fili 周 Gibbons (Studio Apothicaire)
Editing: Fili 周 Gibbons (Studio Apothicaire)
Listen on Soundcloud (low resolution):
Download (full resolution)
Files: 1 x WAV (96K / 24-Bit) | 1 x MP3 (320 kbps)
Licensing note: For all downloaders, this work is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-SA 4.0
- Sharing and adaptation allowed for non-commercial use. This recording is made on a sacred space cared for by the community of Mazunte, please do not use this recording in for-profit activities.
- Give credit and link to the license, indicating if changes were made.
- If you remix, transform or build upon the material, you must distribute your contributions under the same license.
Recording System: Stereo ORTF
- Schoeps MK 41 x2
- Rycote BBG Windshields
- Sound Devices Mix-Pre 6
- Stereo Bar
- Rode SM4-R Shock Mounts x2
Processing: Editing + EQ on Protools (96K / 24-bit)
About the Author
Fili 周 Gibbons (we/they/us) are an artist and recording engineer working across a range of community and professional contexts to support plural voices, expressions, and sonic experiences.
They work with artists and creators, drawing on listening, memory and intuition as guiding forces in collaborative making practices with sound and video medias.
They are the creator of Soundgarden, an artist-accompaniment service offering sound skills training for creators.