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RIP Irv Teibel, creator of “Environments” LPs

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Irv Teibel passed away on Oct. 28 in Austin, TX. He was 72, and died of cancer that was diagnosed only a couple weeks before his death.  Irv first opened my ears to our living soundscapes in around 1972, when as a teenager I purchased two of his Environments LPs. He released this series under the banner of Syntonic Research Inc. between 1970 and 1979. The series ignited a worldwide interest in field recordings  and was an initial entry into the world of carefully recorded natural sounds for both listeners and later recordists. Irv’s family has created a page on the Caring Bridge website that explains the circumstances of his final years, as well as providing a space for folks to leave remembrances.

The Environments series (see detailed Wikipedia entry) featured a simple, classic format, with side-long tracks that allowed deep experiences of one particular soundscape.  The most popular titles included The Ultimate Thunderstorm (recorded from a balcony in the city!) and the The Psychologically Ultimate Seashore (in which he manipulated recordings from the beach to more closely imitate the auditory experience of being there). These, while not unlike later relaxation-oriented productions, were more primarily respected due to their immersive, high fidelity sonic standards.  The series also explored some themes that were more experimental, often pairing one side of natural soundscape with a flip side of featuring themes such as a Central Park “Be-in”, electronic bell sounds,  and a chorus chanting “om.”  (Perhaps these did not sell so well, as the series was limited to natural soundscapes during its final few releases.)

Irv’s work was a precursor to much of what EarthEar and modern environmental sound artists have done, combining state of the art field recording with careful and sensitive studio composition.  There’s no doubting that the Environments series, which garnered widespread press coverage and appreciation, was the foundation for all later efforts to create and market compelling field recordings to the general public.  For many of us who have continued to care about the health of acoustic habitats and who revel in the complexity and diversity of natural soundscapes, Irv’s work was an aesthetic entry point that affirmed our own passions for listening and honoring the natural world’s rich voice.

Thanks, Irv.  We were listening!

Irv Teibel, 1938-2010

Irv Teibel, 1938-2010

2 Responses to “RIP Irv Teibel, creator of “Environments” LPs”

  1. Nura Seggerman Says:

    I owned Dawn and Dusk in the Okefenokee. I listened to this for years–perhaps I was biased because I grew up near this swamp and then moved to NYC so it was a taste of home as I never knew it. Still there is nothing like this recording anywhere that I know of. I owned it on LP then cassette but I would love to buy it in CD format. Do you think this series will be issued in CD? This recording is so much nicer than a short taste or something with music added. What happened to Mr. Teibel’s recordings after his death? I suppose I should just say, Thank you Irv–I listened and really loved this recording. I even choreographed a dance to it. Thanks.

  2. aeinews Says:

    It looks like only three of the old LPs were ever put out on CD, two of which are nature:
    http://www.amazon.com/Environments-Dawn-Hope-English-Meadow/dp/B000002ILD/ref=pd_sim_sbs_m_1
    http://www.amazon.com/Environments-1-Psychologically-Ultimate-Seashore/dp/B000002ILB/ref=pd_sim_sbs_m_1
    Others are on used cassettes, still available; search Amazon or Google or eBay
    I don’t think his children are doing anything with the material, from what I gathered when I emailed with one of them after his death.

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