Excuse Me Sir . . . My Seal Seems to be Possessed by a Roland Synthesizer . . .

by Jennifer Frazer on November 18, 2009

Taking a break from the heavy taxonomy for a moment, let’s have a quick bit of weird wonderfulness. I could not believe my ears when I viewed this excerpt from Werner Herzog’s recent film about Antarctica courtesy Zooillogix . . .

Wow! Amazing, huh? Though the bit halfway when the researchers listen to the seals under the ice does have somewhat of the feel of the final scene of a local 8th grade production of Hamlet when everyone “dies”.

In case you don’t know Werner Herzog, he is the director who gave us the documentary “Grizzly Man” about Timothy Treadwell. Remember him? He was the man who lived with bears in Alaska and ended by being consumed by one along with his girlfriend while his video camera recorded audio of the whole thing. I quite recommend the film, if for no other reason than to see a portrait of a man consumed by his passion, however misguided, and of the jaw-droppingly gorgeous beauty of the vast remote region of Alaska he lives in. Would that we all could spend a few months there each summer, simply watching the grass get tossed by the wind or the streams ripple over the rocks. Of course, not so much with the getting eaten by grizzlies part.

Herzog also famously hauled a 320-ton steamship over an isthmus in Peru for the filming of “Fitzcarraldo” (a feat so Cameron-esque someone else made a documentary about it) and has produced a slew of critically-acclaimed but otherwise little known art house feature films and documentaries. “Grizzly Man” did receive some measure of success and fame, and one of his next films — “Rescue Dawn” — was shown widely enough that even my parents saw it.

This clip is from “Encounters at the End of the World”, which apparently came out in 2007, though I was oblivious. As expected, it has sterling marks on Rotten Tomatoes. It has now been added to the Netflix queue.

You can find how seals fit into the mammals here; here’s more on Weddell Seals, the composers of this unearthly music.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Oroboros November 20, 2009 at 10:23 am

I’ve noticed that murmurations of Starlings also make a very inorganic and otherworldly song. It’s not as pretty as the seals, but similarly electronic sounding.

I’m also reminded of God’s Cricket Chorus which is cool because it superimposes normal cricket sounds over a slowed-down chorus that is supposed to match human tempo (if a cricket lived as long as us).

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