Catalogue

Tone 54 – Bethan Kellough “Aven”

Compact disc in slip case – 5 tracks – 27:54
Limited edition of 500 copies
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham
Release date: 26th August 2016

Live at VOLUME, Los Angeles, 30th April 2016 as part of Touch Conference

Track listing:

1. Descent
2. Vision
3. An Opening
4. Canopy
5. Low

The word ‘Aven’ refers to an underground shaft that leads upward from the roof of a cave passage.

Recorded with SoundField SPS200 & JrF C-Series contact microphones, Sennheiser ME64, Sound Devices 788T, Elektron Monomachine, RME Fireface UCX, and Cockos Reaper. Field recordings from Iceland, June 2015 and South Africa, November 2015.
Strings performed by Bethan Kellough.

Bethan Kellough creates sound worlds that weave together instrumental materials, sound design and ambisonic field recordings. Her composition ‘Aven’ is based on a recording made in Iceland in 2015, which features the booming sound of underground geothermal activity escaping to the surface through a small shaft. “Looking down into the darkness, there was a sense that a whole world existed in an unknown space beneath. The sound world of Aven is a journey through such an imagined environment.” The composition is driven by this sonic encounter, but enters the imagined worlds beneath through the instrumental material developed throughout the work. These melodic passages predominantly feature violin, which Bethan has played since childhood exploring traditional Scottish music, rock violin, free improvisation and classical studies. The field recordings used in Aven were made in Iceland during the Wildeye sound recording workshop with Chris Watson and Jez riley French, and in South Africa during the Sonic Mmabolela residency with Francisco Lopez and James Webb. Each of the recordings explore a world of sound beneath a surface, reflecting upon the initial recording environment at the geothermal site. In South Africa, an approaching storm was heralded by wind blowing through bushes in the savanna, underneath which was hidden a Soundfield microphone. A contact microphone on a fence in South Iceland revealed the tones of the wind contained inside the wires, and in an Icelandic nature reserve the wind was also captured by microphones buried underneath a layer of grass – a miniature world sheltered by the strands of dry straw.

Bethan Kellough (formerly Bethan Parkes) is a sound artist and composer. Her work spans across ambisonic composition, field recording, sound design and multichannel sound installation practices, drawing a focus on sonic spatial experience. Her works are designed to open out spaces with sound, exploring spatial aesthetics and the interactions between sonically and visually articulated spaces. The immersive sound-worlds she creates inhabit the boundaries between music and sound design, weaving together instrumental materials, sound design and ambisonic field recordings.

She holds a PhD in Sonic Arts from the University of Glasgow. In 2015 she joined the Touch Mentorship Programme.

Her works have been exhibited and performed internationally, including at Touch Conference, Los Angeles, USA; Gallery of Russian Art and Design, London, UK; Resonant Forms Festival, Los Angeles, USA; Borealis Festival, Bergen, Norway; Jardins Efemeros Festival, Viseu, Portugal; Spazio Bocciofila, Venice, Italy; The Global Composition International Conference, Dieburg, Germany; Symposium on Acoustic Ecology, University of Kent, UK; Sound Thought Festival, Glasgow, UK.

www.bethankellough.com

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TO:101 – Claire M Singer “Solas”

Double CD in digifile – 7 tracks – 68:11
+ bonus DL track

Track listing:

CDOne
1. A Different Place 06:35
2. Ceò 05:39
3. Solas 10:50
4. Dìobaig 04:47
5. Eilean 11:36
6. Wrangham 06:47

CDTwo
1. The Molendinar 25:57
and Aisir (Bonus track) (download only)

All tracks written & performed by Claire M Singer
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye
Photography & design by Jon Wozencroft

Solas, Wrangham & The Molendinar were recorded by Iain Berryman at Union Chapel, London 26-27th February 2016 on the organ built by Henry Willis in 1877
Mixed at Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen and EMS Goldsmiths, London
Violin extract on Eilean from “Land of the Standing Stones” composed and performed by Paul Anderson

Eilean was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council and The Molendinar by Civic Room, Glasgow and Union Chapel

Solas (‘Light’ in Gaelic) is Claire M Singer’s debut album spanning 14 years of her work in acoustic and electronic composition. In recent years she has focused on writing and performing a mix of organ, cello and electronics with regular performances at Union Chapel where she is Music Director, running a diverse programme of concerts and educational workshops around the Chapel’s Henry Willis 1877 organ.

Other performances include the Roundhouse London by The LCO Soloists; a’ fàs soilleir, an audio-visual work, exhibited at Tate Modern London, XMV New York City and Ceremony Hall Austin TX and she has performed as part of Spire at Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam, Kunst-Station Sankt Peter Cologne and many more.

The Molendinar, which was co-commissioned in 2015 by Civic Room, Glasgow and Union Chapel, London to celebrate Glasgow’s Molendinar Burn Project was performed on the 14th June 2016 at Glasgow Cathedral to conclude the weekend festival.

Track Notes:

A Different Place: Cello – Recorded in Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen in 2009
Ceò: Electronic work derived from recordings of cello, piano and percussion, recorded at EMS Goldsmiths in 2002
Solas: Organ and cello. Written and recorded at Union Chapel in 2015
Dìobaig: Cello. Recorded in Bennachie Studios, Aberdeen in 2009
Eilean: Electronic work derived from recordings of cello, piano, violin.
In 2009 Claire was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council to write a new work for the Homecoming Scotland referencing “Land of the Standing Stones” composed and performed by Scottish fiddler Paul Anderson. Small extracts of Paul’s work can be heard interweaving throughout.
Wrangham: Organ and electronics. Written and recorded at Union Chapel in 2014
The Molendinar: Solo Organ. Written and recorded at Union Chapel 2015
The Molendinar is a co-commission between new Glasgow art gallery Civic Room and Union Chapel London. The work is part of The Molendinar Burn Project which is a twelve site series of art projects, each individually situated along the exact route of the Molendinar, a hidden burn upon which the city of Glasgow was founded by St Mungo in the sixth century.

The work explores the precise control of wind through the pipes and therefore can be played fully on a mechanical drawstop action organ (Union Chapel) or with the addition of electronics (from the Union Chapel Henry Willis organ) when performed on an electro-pneumatic organ (Glasgow Cathedral).

www.civicroom.com
www.unionchapel.org.uk

Aisir (Bonus track): Electronics. Originally an 8 channel work, recorded at EMS Goldsmiths in 2006

www.clairemsinger.com

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Tone 53 – Simon Scott “Floodlines”

CD + full wav Download [If you buy from the TouchShop] – 1 track
Release date: 17th June 2016

Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham @ Skye

Track listing:

1. Floodlines

Recorded live at Cafe Oto as part of “Touch presents…” on 31st January 2016

Simon Scott is a sound ecologist and multi-instrumentalist from Cambridge, England. His albums ‘Insomni’ (Ash International) and ‘Below Sea Level’ (12k/TouchLine) are out now (see above). His work explores the creative process of actively listening, the implications of recording the natural world using technology and the manipulation of natural sounds used for musical composition. He plays the drums in Slowdive and has recently collaborated with artists James Blackshaw, Spire, Taylor Deupree (Between), Isan + many more.

This is his first physical release for Touch.

Source material recorded in The Fens, East Anglia.

Simon Scott’s blistering live set from London follows his 2015 album ‘insomni’ but features his field recordings of areas of The Fens in East Anglia that cartographically are below mean sea level. They’re complimented by underwater hydrophone recordings taken on field research trips, making the unheard audible and brings the unseen to the surface. It’s a flat landscape that was devastated by the draining of The Fens in the 17th century. The ecosystem was damaged but these areas have been left to reflood and re-establish it’s vernacular wildlife, replete with its own instrumentation and orchestras. Tapping into these, Scott’s vision encourages us to explore the fertility of the flatlands of England.

www.simonscott.org

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TouchLine 7 – Jez riley French “Portable Music”

Jez Riley French – Portable Music

Now available

Digital Download – 3 audio tracks – 64′ 26″

1. Score for a footbridge 22:00
2. Score for a locale 22:26
3. Score for geothermal ultrasonics 20:00

Photo: Pheobe riley Law

You can listen to an extract here

NB All three pieces on this release have duration as a key element and also explore frequencies that are inaudible on computer speakers. Please take this into account when listening to this extract.

Tone 45.6D – Anna von Hausswolff “Kallan (Prototype)”

Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Release date: 26th March 2016

Organ: Anna von Hausswolff. Recorded live at Lincoln Cathedral, 19th October 2013.
Performed at Frequency 13 Lincoln Digital Culture Festival as part of Touch presents…, (which also featured Chris Watson & Hildur Gudnadottir)

Recorded live by Mike Harding using 2 x dpa 4060s onto a Nagra Ares Pll digital recorder
This recording is unedited from the original raw file

Though she now lives in Stockholm, Anna von Hausswolff grew up in the once vibrant, bohemian neighbourhood of Haga in Gothenburg, Sweden, to a family who counted amongst their ancestors Bernhard Reynold von Hausswolff, an 18th Century governor of Falun, Sweden, who helped bring an end to the burning of witches. Although Anna has achieved acclaim with her song-based albums ‘Ceremony’ and Singing from the Grave (both first released on Kning Disk in Sweden), she has always had an ear for the radical approach, and this is the first step in a long-term collaboration with Touch.

www.annavonhausswolff.com

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TouchLine 6 – Iain Chambers “Bascule Chamber Concert”

Iain Chambers – Bascule Chamber Concert

Now available

Digital Download – 3 audio tracks – 23’44”

1. Bascule Chambers (2015)
2. Three Poems (2015)
3. Hoketus Prima (2015)

Photo: Steve Stills

You can listen to an extract here

Tone 52V – Fennesz “Mahler Remix”

Double Vinyl + full wav Download [If you buy from the TouchShop] – 4 tracks
Release date: 29th January 2016
Artwork & photography by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason @ Transition

“Mahler Remix” was recorded live at Radiokulturhaus, Vienna by Christoph Amann, in May 2011. This recording is mostly based on samples taken from Gustav Mahler’s symphonies. The performance also includes an early version of ‘liminality’ from the ‘bécs’ album, released in 2014 on Editions Mego. ‘Mahler Remixed’ was a commissioned work performed together with the visual artist Lillevan.

Track listing:

1. Mahler Remix 1
2. Mahler Remix 2
3. Mahler Remix 3
4. Mahler Remix 4

www.fennesz.com

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TouchLine 5 – Aino Tytti “Millennium Mills”

Aino Tytti – Millennium Mills

touchline5

Digital Download – 8 tracks (FLAC & mp3) – 43:20
17pp PDF booklet of photographs and text

Track listing:

1. Observations from the nightwatch hut, late November
2. These halls which used to breathe and sing
3. England’s last lies ruined
4. Silo D
5. Waxing gibbous shines on the black king’s wharf (for Chrissie)
6. First light, crepuscular loculus
7. All that which was once lost
8. A requiem for Silvertown

You can listen to an extract here

Spire 6 – The Eternal Chord “Orga”

Download – 1 track – 23:49
Recorded by Achim Mohné
Photography by Mike Harding
With thanks to Georg Dietzler
Performed by Claire M Singer & Mike Harding at Sankt-Peter, Köln 6th November 2015

Track listing:

1. Orga

www.touch33.net/theeternalchord

TouchLine 4 – Mark Van Hoen – Artefacts l

Mark Van Hoen – Artefacts l

touchline4

Digital Download – One track (.mov) – 10:03

2pp PDF booklet of photographs and text

Track listing:

1. Artefacts l

TO:98 – Philip Jeck “Cardinal”

Double Vinyl + Download – 13 tracks – 64mins
Photography and artwork by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason at Transition

Track listing:

Side 1.
Fleeing
Saint Pancras
Barrow in Furness (open thy hand wide)
Reverse Jersey

Side 2.
… bend the knee 1
Called In
Brief

Side 3.
Broke Up
… bend the knee 5
Called Again

Side 4.
And Over Again
The Station View
Saint Pancras (the one that holds everything)

This album comes with a free download of Philip Jeck “Live in Caen”, recorded by Franck Dubois on 28th February 2015 at Impressions Multiples #4 (ésam Caen/Cherbourg) with thanks to Thierry Weyd.

“… and they sparkled like burnished brass”*

Out of the depths of our complaints, it could be all so simple. To be never fooled by the finesse of a long-yearned for solidity, but in the momentary aplomb of a sleepy walk threading through familiar streets we’d hum our way, alto, baritone and tenor toward some harmonious end. An effect like some wonderful recollection of one or other of those technicolour movies. Not real for sure, but if you are in the mood….

I would like to acknowledge the influence the writer Marilynne Robinson has had on this work. I would recommend reading any/all of her four novels and also “When I was a Child I Read Books” [Virago, 2012]. This collection of essays include “Austerity as Ideology”, which dissects prevailing economic thinking, and “Open Thy Hand Wide…” which continues with a celebration of liberal thinking as Generosity (and also turned over my received knowledge of Calvinism). Her ability to convey a love of humanity and sense of wonder about the great mystery of existence in her writing has, since I first read a book of hers, found a way into the way I think about my work – not illustrating but meditating upon.
“After all, it’s [humankind] debts are only to itself.” (Marilynne Robinson)

To make this record I used Fidelity record players, Casio Keyboards, Ibanez bass guitar, Sony minidisc players, Ibanez and Zoom effects pedals, assorted percussion, a Behringer mixer and it was edited at home with minidisc players and on a laptop computer.

I would like to thank Octopus Collective’s Full Of Noise Festival where “The Station View” and “Barrow in Furness” were first recorded. Guy Madden and InMute’14, Athens who commissioned me to play a live soundtrack to Guy’s film “Cowards Bend the Knee” [2003]. “… bend the knee 1” and “… bend the knee 5” are reworked sections from that performance.

The two Saint Pancras Tracks are remixes of part a performance at St Pancras Church, London; an earlier version was made for “Touch. 30 years and counting” [Touch, 2012]. Saint Pancras (Latin: Sanctus Pancratius; Greek: Ἅγιος Παγκράτιος) was a Roman citizen who converted to Christianity, and was beheaded for his faith at the age of just 14 around the year 304 AD. His name in Greek literally means “the one that holds everything”.
“Called in” is an edit of a live performance at Spire in Krems, Austria [Kontraste Festival, 2013]. “Reverse Jersey” is an edit of a live performance for WFMU in New Jersey as part of Touch.30 [2012].

“Fleeting”, “Brief”, “Broke Up”, “Called Again” and “Over Again” were made at home in Liverpool between 2012 and 2015.

Thanks to everyone who has invited me to play, to Daniel Blumin at WFMU, to Mike Harding for the original recordings of “Called in” and “Saint Pancras” and a belated thank you to Jacob Kirkegaard for playing the chimes on “Ark” from “An Ark for the Listener” [Touch, 2010].

“… weeping for the wrongs we cannot undo.”

Philip Jeck, April 2015

*from The Book of Ezekiel

www.philipjeck.com

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TO:97 – Heitor Alvelos “Faith”

CD – 12 tracks – 40:20
Photography: Jon Wozencroft & Heitor Alvelos
Mastered by Denis Blackham

Track listing:

1. Errant
2. Exodus
3. Edict
4. Alluvion
5. Pseudoself
6. Vicarious Solace
7. The Way of Malamat
8. Peirasmos
9. The Other
10. Home, Elicited
11. The Hopeful Night
12. Dedication

Faith is the first full-length sound release by media researcher and curator Heitor Alvelos under his own name. Heitor Alvelos has been a long-time on/off collaborator of Touch, having on occasion provided photography and stage visuals for Biosphere, Fennesz, BJNilsen, Rafael Toral and Philip Jeck, as well as releasing sound pieces under the aliases Autodigest, Antifluffy and Before Surgery, on Ash International, TouchRadio and The Tapeworm.

“The essence of the present piece is autobiographical: therefore the use of my own name”, the author clarifies. “And yet it aims at being resonant to others”: in this context, resonance may be regarded as both semantic and visceral, as the sound frequencies on Faith are often of the kind that “rearrange one’s organs”, to quote the recently departed Bernadette Martou. A necessity in order to carry the gravitas inherent to the subject, a confessional confrontation with the zeitgeist.

All sources have been gathered, recorded and produced throughout five decades, all the way back to a recording by Francisco Alvelos in 1972 that closes the release. Elsewhere, sounds have been processed to various degrees, the bookends retaining their original contexts, others mutating into deep abstraction. Overall, they flow as one single composition, evocative and foreboding in equal measures.

www.benevolentanger.org/faith

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TouchLine 3 – Yann Novak “Scalar Field (9a00ff, ff6600, ff0066, fe0000)”

Yann Novak – Scalar Field (9a00ff, ff6600, ff0066, fe0000)

touchline3

Digital Download – HD video (mp4) – 9:00
24pp PDF booklet of images and text
Wallpaper for a variety of devices

Track Listing:

1. Scalar Field (9a00ff, ff6600, ff0066, fe0000) You can watch an excerpt here

TouchLine 2 – Simon Scott “Below Sea Level”

Simon Scott – Below Sea Level

touchline2

Digital Download – One track (wav) – 34:07
74pp PDF booklet of photographs, maps and text

Track listing:

1. Below Sea Level You can listen to an extract here

Robert Macfarlane: “It’s an amazing sound world, into which you fall (subside)”

The Wire: “… this exquisite study in sound ecology.”

TouchLine 1 – Budhaditya Chattopadhyay “Decomposing Landscape”

Budhaditya Chattopadhyay – Decomposing Landscape

Multi-channel sound composition

Digital Download – One track (Binaural + Ambisonics B-format) – 35:00
13pp pdf booklet of photographs

Track listing:

1. Decomposing Landscape, audio only edition You can listen to an extract here

FOLIO 001 – Josephine Michel & Mika Vainio “Halfway to White”

60pp hardback book + 60 min CD
Bound in a grey linen cover, printed on heavy hi-white paper
There are no digital versions or copies of this release in any format

Track listing:

1. Fade from Black
2. Missing a Border
3. Notes on the Exposures
4. Line of a Curve
5. White Out

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TO:99 – Biosphere Deathprod “Stator”

CD – 7 tracks – 44:37
Artwork and photography is by Jon Wozencroft. The CD was mastered by Helge Sten [Deathprod].

stator (ˈsteɪtə) n
1. (Electrical Engineering) The stationary part of a rotary machine or device, esp of a motor or generator
2. (Aeronautics) A system of nonrotating radially arranged parts within a rotating assembly, esp the fixed blades of an axial flow compressor in a gas turbine
[C20: from Latin: one who stands (by), from stāre to stand]

Track listing:

1. Muses-C (Biosphere)
2. Shimmer/Flicker (Deathprod)
3. Baud (Biosphere)
4. Polychromatic (Deathprod)
5. Disc (Deathprod)
6. Space is Fizzy (Biosphere)
7. Optical (Deathprod)

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TO:53V – Fennesz “Venice”

Double vinyl & digital download – 14 tracks + pdf booklet
Release date: 20th October 2014
Artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason at Transition, mastered by Denis Blackham
Featuring David Sylvian and Burkhard Stangl
Special 10th anniversary edition

Track listing:

A
The Future Will Be Different
Rivers of Sand
Chateau Rouge

B
City of Light
Onsra
Circassian (guitar: Burkhard Stangl)
Onsay
The Other Face

C
Transit (vocals: David Sylvian)
The Point of It All

D
Laguna
Asusu
The Stone of Impermanence
Tree

The Future Will Be Different and Tree complete the Venice sessions in one release…

“Venice” was recorded on location in the summer of 2003 and subsequently assembled and mixed at Amann Studios, Vienna in January/February 2004.

“Venice”, the fourth studio album by Christain Fennesz, finds electronic music at a crossroads between its early status as digital subculture, and the feeling that there has to be something more, an emotional quality that rises above noise and moves towards melody and rapture.

It was voted No. 3 in The Top 50, The Wire, December 2004, was album of the week at BBCi on its release and remains Christian Fennesz’s best-selling record to date. prefix (USA) noted: “Although Fennesz’s breakout record Endless Summer was followed by a live release and a collaboration with Jim O’Rourke and Peter Rehberg as Fenn O’Berg, Venice is the true heir to that album’s ascendant pop. Venice is not as unabashedly poppy as its predecessor (the lack of Beach Boys references can attest to that), but still mines much the same vein. It was marked by critics at the time as a move away from the relatively robotic music spawned by the IDM craze of the late nineties. Instead, its melodic, emotive tracks foresaw an electronic music that could be purely human.”

Pitchfork Media (USA), in a lengthy review, also noted: “Venice’s quality extends beyond its sound. Touch proprietor Jon Wozencroft– through his breathtaking design and photography – continues to fight the good fight against records-as-pure-data by making the CD a value-added prospect.” and The Declaration Online (Web): “Two blue empty row boats left listless on rippling water. Red orange green riverbed foliage reflected in the water’s gauzy oil slick surface. An airport enveloped in dull gray stratus and snow. Upon seeing the photography and packaging accompanying Christian Fennesz’s latest recording, Venice, it is clear that the record label Touch remains intent on not simply putting out records but creating audiovisual imprints dedicated to inextricably tying sound and vision.”

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Tone 51D – Thomas Köner & Jana Winderen “Cloitre”

Download – 1 track – 44:37

Mastered by Thomas Köner
Photography by Jon Wozencroft
Text by Denis Boyer

Recorded live from the cloisters at Evreux Cathedral, Normandy, France by Franck Dubois, 14th June 2014, as part of L’Ateliers

Track listing:

1. Cloître

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TO:27D – Chris Watson “Stepping into the Dark”

12 Tracks – 59:43 – Download

PDF Booklet + text file inc. liner notes and images

The tracks are the atmospheres of “special places”, recorded with the use of camouflaged microphones.

“In recent years I have noticed that some of the locations I visited as a sound recordist displayed remarkable and particular characteristics. These may be sparkling acoustics, a special timbre, sometimes rhythmic, percussive or transient animal sounds. Without a doubt, playing a recording made at one of these sites can recreate a detailed memory of the original event. Also, as others have described, there is an intangible sense of being in a special place — somewhere that has a spirit — a place that has an ‘atmosphere’. These recordings avoid background noise, human disturbance and editing. They are made using sensitive microphones camouflaged and fixed in position usually well in advance of any recording or animal behaviour. The mics. are then cabled back on very long leads to a hide or concealed recording point, the aim being to capture the actual sound within each particular location without external influence. Sites are discovered by researching local natural or social history, by interpreting features on a map or through anecdote and conversation with people about their feelings for or against particular places. The author and researcher Tom Lethbridge identified the sources of several spirits within the topography of the area. I suspect that this also includes flora and fauna, local time of day, the weather and the season. The following recordings are the atmospheres of special places.” (Chris Watson)

Track list:

1. Low Pressure
0810h 6th October 1994
Wind wherever the sound recordist operates is an obvious nuisance. Just as it is with turbulent seas and fast-running water, it is relatively simple to make a recording that captures the generalised bashing and cashing of the elements, but this results in white noise that describes nothing of the detailed ebb and flow as witnessed. The remarkable thing here, in Glen Cannich, was that i could walk through the foci of these wind sounds within a few paces, as if being part of some great instrument. The blast here was so strong that it took some time to fix the microphones securely – I felt surrounded by the full force of the elements being channelled through this site, and wanted the recording to reflect the bent-double posture and sheer physicality I was experiencing. I cabled back 50 or 60m to a sheltered position and managed to run the tape for almost ten minutes before the microphones were blown over.

2. Embleton Rookery
0600h 7th May 1983
The churchyard looks out to the sea and across to the castle at Dunstanburgh Head, the vertigo cliff face forming a curve to create what was once a remote deep water harbour, used by Tudor monarchs. Maybe shipwrecked sailors have returned, reincarnated as the rooks that have chosen upon the old stone church in Embleton, whose name itself gives off a particular hum. Is it that the rooks are only rooks, and they sound dark to us because the Black Birdhas so many associations with malevolence and ill-omen? Lethbridge might have said that the birds come here, largely due to this always pagan site having obvious associations with the strong atmosphere of its ley lime and ritual past. Today, cars file past on their way to a family picnic on the promontory.

Go there at dawn, or last thing at night, out of traffic hours, and another sound takes over. The acoustic of the place spins the parliament of the rooks through the cold air, its stillness, and into the timeless chaos, as always, driven on by the ringing of the bells.

3. The Crossroads
0620h 27th March 1994
This morning the conditions were just right. This crossroads at Smalesmouth in the Kielder Forest, I am told, connects two of the ‘old straight tracks’ upon which Scottish drovers would herd their livestock south across the open hill. Today, the forest clearing is home to a host of bird, both resident and migrant. Here, however, end of March, the birdsong comes from local voices at the peak of their activity. So at our usual site on the junction of the forest tracks, recording began just after the light came up. The cold, dry air was full of detail, this isolated spot quickly reanimated by the ringing song and calls of chaffinch, robin, wren, songthrush, siskin and crossbill…

4. River Mara At Dawn
0615h 16th September 1994
A looping curve up river is edged with lush riverene forest. The location is spectacular, but its splendour has to co-exist with an oft-repeated stress on being vigilant; one does not wander alone on foot about the Maasai Mara.

Having set the mics, I cabled back some distance to the Land Rover and started to record. Eventually, building with the heat, were the convergent sounds of swirling water, black kites, wind through the surrounding vegetation and a blanket covering if flies.

5. River Mara At Night
2130h 16th September 1994
The same evening, Francis asked one of the other Maasai guards to take me back up river. Nightfall brings more danger. The hippos, who spend the day in the river, come out and graze on the vegetation, and can be very threatening animals… more people are killed by hippos than they are by lions.

The ‘atmosphere’ had changed. Listening for the wooden chimes of tree frogs, we were met by heavy rhythm, a wall of nocturnal sound. Moths and night flying beetles are being hunted – you can hear the deep octaval roar as they come close to the microphone. The metallic sounds, I suspect, are the acoustic calls of bats.

6. A Passing View
2350h 3rd April 1992
Today, Fai – a local fisherman, took us into the huge mangrove forests at Los Olovitos by canoe. We had spoken about some of the special places in the mangroves and in the early afternoon we stopped at a resting place bordering the lake. It was hot, humid and very quiet. I cabled some mics out into the water’s edge with the idea of returning before dawn the following day. Curiosity forced my return that night when I heard and recorded these mechanical sounds of fishing bats in the darkness. Afterwards, in torchlight, I could watch these beautiful, long-legged russet coloured animals trawling for small fish feeding on the surface of the water.

7. Bosque Seco
0540h 6th April 1995
I left the camp at 0500h this morning and followed the winding path east towards my marker. Within the forest it was still very dark and quiet, with rising warm dry air. Just as the light was breaking through the canopy, I found my site at a fork in the path. I rigged up the tape recorder. The temperature began to climb like a jet off a runway. The acoustics changed, the orchestra awoke and the forest found its rhythm.

8. Sunsets
2230h 16th May 1994
During the late afternoon I cabled the equipment out into the marsh from a track. At 2000h I went back to listen out for the evening chorus of snipe. On the ground, they are cryptic birds and will choose their spot, usually reedy and damp, close to their very well camouflaged nestling places in tussocks and long grass.

The evening was quiet until the point at which the light dramatically changes and colour vision vanishes. At this hour, the snipe will perform. In an amazing ritual and localised aerial display, they dive vertically like guided missiles towards the water, the sound of their tail feathers buzzing through the air.

9. The Blue Men Of The Minch
1400h 30th July 1994
I was fortunate enough to borrow a hydrophone from the research station at Cromarty. Five metres beneath the surface of the Moray Firth and directly over a particular deep water channel, common seals roar during their diving displays. Within a 1km radius of the hydrophone, bottle-nosed dolphins navigate and hunt using echo locating clicks. Occasionally they communicate with their unique signature whistles.

10. High Pressure
0550h 25th February 1994
On the hilltop, there was no shelter this morning from the intense biting cold – or a feeling of growing anticipation. The hard dry air gripped the trees and margins of the pool – now frozen, with only one small area of water by the mics.

Daybreak revealed a small constricted community of coot, mallard, widen and teal.

11. Gahlitzerstrom
1740h 5th October 1993
Observing from a hide over the previous two days, the cranes have followed a similar path towards their roost out on the waters of Udarser Wiek. In particular, they seem to favour a narrow channel to navigate east to west – flying in low over the end of a thin spit of brown reedy marshland where earlier this afternoon I concealed the mics.

In Greek mythology, Hermes is said to have envisioned the Greek alphabet by watching the beating wings of cranes as they passed by his line of sight. Their calls and signs remain across the centuries…

12. The Forest Path
0625h 7th October 1994
It was raining hard – there was cover under the edge of a large dark section of mature plantation. Gradually, out from the background, came the crook of distant stags. A rich, velvet acoustic rolling down through the trees and suspended in a low clinging mist.

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