February 7, 2012
Been a while comrades: heres some audio and video of stuff from the studio floor that wouldn’t otherwise see the light of day – edited together in a random fashion. Quite a large dose of Geoff Leigh in there from the work we did together and never quite finished…
October 7, 2010
More Sunseastar video tracks from the album ‘Fjaerland’
September 28, 2010
Video from the Sunseastar album ‘Fjaerland’
January 19, 2009
November 10, 2008
Bit late now because it’s sold out – but, Andy Wilson’s (Sunseastar etc) latest audio product is ‘The Grand Erector’ a fancy limited edition (100), 12″ vinyl, ten page booklet type thing which also includes six audio tracks of mixes, distortions and mangling of sounds contributed by members of the Faust mailing list. Can’t vouch for the music as i haven’t heard any of it and don’t have vinyl reading technology – but it probably sounds a bit like this:
The Grand Erector – “Brasov Monkeys”
This and many other ‘fascinating’ releases are available on the Beta Lactam Rrring website – soon with free MP3 downloads!
May 19, 2008
The much anticipated Noise Maps version 2 was released by our favorite government agency, DEFRA, last week. This version includes a noise source filter (road, rail, industry and air) – which ‘kind of’ works – and day and night switch. The maps spread beyond London to ‘agglomerations’ of over 250,000 people…everyone else will have to wait until 2012 for round two – or make do with pdf of ‘major roads’ and airports.
January 9, 2008
(Not really a sound from memory more the memory of an imagined sound…)
The ideal city is a city with mountains – Naples, Lisbon, Sarajevo, Phoenix Arizona even. The flat and claustrophobic city of London lacks this topological quality but tries to make up for it in the form of council tower blocks (not quite the vertical exuberance of Hong Kong or Shanghai but it will do…) and it was to these buildings that i was drawn in a skyward search to try and ‘understand’ the city and the London landscape.
In the early Eighties council housing was in chaos and these blocks had been more or less to fend for themselves; the original tenants had moved out (except for a few aged ” i’ll only leave here in a coffin” types identifiable by heavily armored front doors) leaving the run of the place to a colorful mix of smackheads, the smackhead’s drug dealers, ‘antisocial’ families and the dregs of the squatter population.
(a friend of mine who lived in the top flat of a fourty storey building, hacked a head sized hole through his bedroom wall so that when he was lying in bed he could remind himself that the only thing between him and the void was a thin layer of breeze blocks. His occupancy of the flat was cut short when a pirate radio station gang persuaded him to leave by dangling him out of the kitchen window…)
Access to the buildings was unrestricted, I spent happy hours exploring and climbing these imitation mountains – walking up the stairwells, climbing scaffolding or directly up the exterior of the building, balcony to balcony to sit, dangling my feet of the top. Much of the mid-period bourbonese qualk imagery derives from this architecture (not as commonly supposed an ‘industrial’ affectation but a search for the echo of a more rural landscape) as video, album covers, posters and photographs. But more and more the focus of my climbs became the attempt to record the fall from a high building; Sitting on the edge of the top of a tower block caused me an almost unstoppable physical urge to leap off – i was sure the falling sensation would be worth it, however brief. I decided to try and capture a simulation of falling by dropping microphones and video cameras off high buildings creating a series of short, very short, films and audio recordings (and smashed equipment). I never came close to matching the imagined sound, a sound which has to be experienced to be fully appreciated: in a short six seconds the sound of televisions, and children crying changing pitch though doppler distortion as i drop past the balconies, the noise of the city – traffic, car alarms, sirens fading as the range decreases to a single point of impact on a concrete surface bringing the short journey full circle from solid to void and back again.
Some tips on falling:
December 14, 2007
Via ‘the Sound Projector’ site. Not exactly favorable but i see what he’s getting at. Being accused of being ‘Boring and tidy’ is a first. Nevertheless, thanks ed.
sunseastar offer a very artistic set of field recordings on their Fjærland CD. The idea is apparently something to do with creating musique concrète out of genuinely chaotic processes found in nature, such as ‘insects moving through grass’. In this endeavour they hope to emulate (or perhaps even go one better than) Xenakis, who used stochastic processes to construct his music. The duo of Andy Wilson (author of the excellent book about Faust) and Simon Crab, both of whom have been associated with Bourbonese Qualk, accordingly travelled to various exciting locations over the last two years, documented what they may, and brought back these eight cuts. All the sounds we hear have been extensively reworked, of course. What’s rather worrying so far that (a) the chosen locations include all the usual suspects already used by everyone from Chris Watson to Disinformation – a pebble beach, glaciers in Norway, a military testing ground, and a nuclear reactor; and (b) how boring and tidy the music sounds, despite their avowed interest in the exciting powers of ‘chaos’. Well, score one for the insects! Still, there is clearly intelligence and research operating here, so I will persevere.
November 26, 2007
(Image: London Noise-map. The arrow points to my house)
” Noise can cause annoyance, interrupt conversation, disturb sleep and, in extreme conditions, cause physical damage to those affected. The types of noise that are experienced can be classified into some fairly broad categories. For example, occupational noise which is experienced at work, neighbour or neighbourhood noise and environmental (aka ambient) noise caused by transport and industry.”
My cousin does this – standing on a street corner all day in some bland suburb of London, microphone in hand, recording the average volume of environmental sound. The data is collected and projected over a London street map to form a graphic visualisation of the changing volumes throughout the city. this is part of DEFRA’s “National Ambient Noise Strategy” who’s aim is to provide us and ‘policy makers’ with a source of sound data for the whole of England.
The map, though fascinating, seems to me to be of little value because volume is not the only parameter in determining the annoyance factor of ‘noise’. Equally relevant are duration, repetition, pitch, timbre, time( the noise of the city animated over one day), and frequency. And, DEFRA assume that all noise is inherently annoying. My thesis is that the map should become a tourist map of London defined by it’s unique sound as much as by it’s geography, architecture and so-on. At the same time as capturing volume data, all other aspects of noise can be measured and visualised giving an invaluable and unique ongoing audio-visual symphony of London.
London is noise:For instance where i live in east London ( marked a dark brown on the map for ‘reasonably quiet’ ) is bathed in an ever present low volume but high pitched susurrus generated by traffic on the A12 – the sound spill from the motorway gives this area a unique feel and interestingly where the noise peters out, the social demographic radically changes. Time plays it’s part: in the morning the low almost inaudible mumbling of the underground trains at 6am in Whitechapel and the sounds of the first aeroplanes circling the city, a descending tone as they drop down to Heathrow (Sarah says the sound of the banking planes changes from summer to winter and that the winter sound she finds depressing – i had never noticed the difference). Each city has it’s own audio fingerprint: the time i spent in Lisboa had the backing sound of the Ponte 25 Abril (inaudible to the Lisboans), the sound of angry bees made by cars on the resonating bridge (i heard this sound again later in Oxford where the noise from the unusually corrugated surface of the a34, several miles away, drove my friend from his rented, supposedly tranquil rural bolthole). Hanoi is the scooter horn and the early morning rumble of a single advancing tidal wave of noise as the traffic en mass, enters the the sleeping city.
November 22, 2007
Today sunseastar release their first record ‘Fjærland’ – the result of a years worth of location recording and intensive audio processing by Andy Wilson and myself. The fruits of this anachronistic endeavor can be can be purchased from Dirter Promotions. More details on the sunseastar website
Excerpt from the sleevenotes
“Crab and I had worked together in his group Bourbonese Qualk before starting sunseastar as a separate project with its own agenda. The idea was inspired by listening to Xenakis and thinking about a physicists’ joke about how uncanny it is that nature can solve differential equations instantaneously. The stochastic processes Xenakis uses to construct his music are all around us anyway. From this thought came the idea of taking a short cut around the hard work Xenakis had to do, and making musique concrete based directly on the sound of chaotic processes – the sound of chains rattling, of rain falling, of a field of sheep sounding their bells together, of the sea crashing on the shore, of insects moving through grass.”