Some of his pieces are processed and edited and last only a few minutes. Listening to them is like when a small, everyday bird lands on your window sill and just when you get the sense of its markings, it flies away. Best among these are “the strange effects of wind” with its crescendo of weird, wet-sounding clicks, “fate follows in its wake” (distant shotgun blasts in a forest), and “slow night, slow angels” that showcases the creepy drone of a million bugs rubbing their legs together.
Sherk’s longer, twenty-minute pieces such as “23 Fountains of Beverly Hills,” “New York Glyptic,” and “Icelandic Air” are excellent. They whet your hearing til it’s razor sharp, you feel freed from the idiotic blare of humans and the ceaseless “mental rutting” (M. McLuhan) of daily life, and Earth is a fascinating place to listen to (this does not include my neighbor’s asthmatic chihuahua). Listening to Mr. Sherk’s long pieces relaxes you but they are in no way “music for relaxation.” For, the sounds force you not to label them (and once labeled, ignore) but to listen to them. And as you listen you’re constantly reminded of music and how it “shapes” time or “keeps” time or is its own time that has nothing to do with clocks, and you are eager to put on a record and, say, listen to The Marriage of Figaro as a field recording. Plus, his pieces reveal a certain attitude about listening to recordings of sounds: as you listen you think, Gee, I’m lucky: this experience is unique, no one recorded it, it’s gone for good–but it was recorded, and you have only to press Play to hear it again.
Finally, Mr. Sherk’s pieces are not dry documents: you sense his enjoyment as he records and that he knows he’s getting something special. His pieces go over well any time, but they express the most when, say, played along with the rain.