As the liner notes for Environments 4 ask, “Can a thunderstorm be both violent and relaxing?” Often cited as one of the quintessential storm recordings, “Ultimate Thunderstorm” was actually captured from Irv Teibel’s balcony along the East River in Manhattan. As the story goes, he had tickets to the theater, but decided to skip it when he saw an epic storm move in—a recording opportunity he couldn’t near to miss. From the press release: “The record division of Syntonic Research, Inc. has finally done something about the weather, putting it on a long-play album for the benefit of anyone who’d care to bask in the relaxing sound of rain without getting wet.”
Side two of Environments 4, “Gentle Rain in a Pine Forest,” provides an excellent example of the sound masking properties of rain. Irv Teibel subtitled this side “synthetic silence” after listening tests showed that people generally preferred this sound to artificial white noise. “Side Two was decided on almost as an afterthought,” Teibel states in the press release. “In fact, it was recorded by mistake.” Nevertheless, “Gentle Rain in a Pine Forest” eventually became one of the most popular recordings in the series and has even been featured at the Smithsonian.