\'The roar which lies on the other side of silence”, wrote George Eliot in Middlemarch, would no doubt prove fatal if heard. From the sound of growing grass to a mouse’s heart, if we were to hear everything around us, we’d probably expire. And yet sound recordist Bernie Krause – a man acquainted with the sonic spike a virus makes when it lets go a surface – seems to have suffered no ill effects. Having recorded over 15,000 species in his 40-year career, Krause is also able to testify that, far from being a monstrous cacophony, the noises of the natural world are as carefully orchestrated as the most intricate classical score. The aural tapestry of a tropical rainforest post-afternoon storm is, for Krause, reminiscent of Fauré’s Requiem; a Zimbabwean dawn chorus, of Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in A Minor. At the heart of this idiosyncratic volume is Krause’s “niche hypothesis”: the idea that where a group of creatures have evolved together over time, so their calls and songs have separated to avoid acoustic turf wars. What is strikingly evident is the effect of human activity on the mix: the ability of a helicopter, for instance, to silence the voices in its flight path. The results can be fatal, as Krause demonstrates with reference to a colony of Great Basin spadefoot toads: when the amphibious chorus is disrupted, its synchronicity shattered, individual voices become audible, and predators more able to hone in on unfortunate croakers. Krause himself comes across as a likeable oddball, extolling the virtues of homemade clip-on cat’s ears and the authentic kind of ant music: “The first time I heard ants \'sing’, I was nearly 50 years old. I was speechless for hours.” Originally a studio guitarist, his acoustic odyssey led him on to the synthesizer and LA, where he worked on films such as Rosemary’s Baby and Apocalypse Now, specialising in other-worldly effects. By the mid-Seventies, however, Hollywood’s appeal had faded, and at the age of 40 he left to study for a doctorate. For Krause, the need to make music is clearly innate, and its first practitioners inspired by the natural world. Writing with the zeal of a convert, he rates the best composers as those who call most on the wild, not least David Monacchi, an Italian whose Integrated Ecosystem apparently “explores the interaction of a digitally synthesised performance with a primary equatorial rainforest’s sonic habitat”. This book’s coda is a passionate plea to halt human noise pollution before the natural world is drowned out. Given that Krause estimates that nearly half of the soundscapes he has recorded exist now only in his 45,000-hour library, it is persuasive.