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the lion in which the spirits of the royal ancestors make their home

by David Dunn

  • Compact Disc (CD) + Digital Album

    Vernacular sounds of Zimbabwe, Africa
    Jewel case with 6panel folder and one CD

    Includes unlimited streaming of the lion in which the spirits of the royal ancestors make their home via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
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      $15 USD or more 


  • Streaming + Download

    Includes unlimited streaming via the free Bandcamp app, plus high-quality download in MP3, FLAC and more.
    Purchasable with gift card

      $7 USD  or more




Dunn here offers the richest audio exploration of the blend of the human and natural worlds yet put to CD. Finely recorded segments of the multi-species gatherings around waterholes, including insects, beetles, lions and elephants, create a matrix within which the songs and stories of the local bipedal hairless apes are given their true context. Throughout the disc, Dunn explores the patterns of the sacred that remain interwoven in the songs emanting from the water’s edge, children at school, and an Apostolic Church.

Dunn’s choices of sounds are consistently engaging on several levels, and perceptive in their details. During a night sounds segment, his notes direct our attention to the tell-tale bubbling from a pump, now essential to wildlife survival in shrunken ranges; another cut is recorded on the fringe of a village in the evening, at the interface of the sounds of the wild and the human, and is the length of the average time between passage of vehicles on the nearby road. This is nature sound recording at its best, rightfully incorporating humans, and consistently evoking the Great Conversation within which each species finds its voice.

Originally released on EarthEar, 1995

While the legacy of British colonialism is everywhere evident within independent Zimbabwe, the sounds of an older African fabric of mind seep through the modern socialist and industrialized veneer. It is a fabric of integrated mentality where the persistence of spirit is understood to be an intrinsic component of daily ecological dynamics, This collage is not an attempt to document the natural world of Africa, its tribal remnants nor its modern counterparts. It is simply an aural description of the network of sound that communicates between these components that an outside traveler might be fortunate to hear.

Such an activity is at best problematic and at worst an act of exploitation. Just s the photographer cannot escape the patina of voyeurism neither can the phonographer. My only defense is to be as “up front” as possible. I offer these sounds as evidence of something worth listening to, not as just another digitally displaced entertainment nor as another highly dubious example of global cultural consciousness raising. My interest has been in composing an articulation of those patterns of the sacred which emerge or persist within (and despite) the contradictions and conundrums of rapid cultural change. By use of the word sacred I am specifically invoking a definition posited by Gregory Bateson: “the integrated fabric of mind which envelops us.”

While these sounds can be heard as further evidence of an environment, nation and world undergoing mutation and threat of annihilation, they also can be heard as evidence or processes of dynamical adaptation where the tribal and wilderness voices speak not only as something under siege but as phenomena capable of survival in a way that may inform our collective survival here on Earth. These are some of the sounds of one place in the world undergoing transition.


released June 14, 2021

The title of this sound collage comes from a line in David Lan’s book, Guns and Rain, about the role of spirit mediums during Zimbabwe’s war for independence.

The sounds were recorded with a Sony TCD-­‐D10 portable DAT recorder using Sennheiser MKH series condense microphones in a MS-­‐stereo pattern (omni and figure eight) and matrix decoded to stereo in post-­‐production. All assembly and editing was done in the digital domain with a Spectral Synthesis digital audio workstation.


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David Dunn New Mexico

David Dunn was born in 1953 in San Diego, CA. From 1970 to 1974 he was assistant to the American composer Harry Partch & remained active as a performer in the Harry Partch Ensemble for over a decade. He has worked in a wide variety of audio media inclusive of traditional & experimental music, installations for public exhibitions, video & film soundtracks, radio broadcasts, & bioacoustic research. ... more

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