Sunday, March 23, 2014

lengthy negotiations, running to months then years, were needed for 2 recording sessions to take place inside the structures of the humber bridge - directly under the carriageway and in the north bank footing tower. eventually permission was granted and, for the first time, a private individual was allowed to make sounds recordings.

care was taken to choose the specific locations and the set the equipment for recording. my normal way of working is to be in the location listening and to record when the moment feels right, but on these occasions that was not possible, as only maintenance and inspection teams are allowed to stay in these restricted spaces.

so, after positioning the contact mics and conventional microphones, I pressed record and returned to the main bridge offices. 4 hours later I was escorted back to retrieve my equipment and, hopefully, 4 hours of recordings. what was actually gathered was around 1 1/2 hours of usable material and a 2 1/2 hour recording of an inspection team walking around the recording locations discussing various technical, structural details. whilst frustrating on one level, it is this kind of unplanned for situation that makes field recording a creative act rather than a mere technical exercise.

the piece presented here features two sections of the recording sessions, in 2008: firstly under the road carriageway and then in the north footing tower. 
re-posting / gathering of a few short extracts from experiments with 

(adapted) geophones

geophones are measurement devices for monitoring seismic activity. 
they're not really designed for audio although some are often hooked up to audio recorders - with varying degrees of success.
 and so, for the past couple of years i've been experimenting with different ways to adapt the geophones to give a decent audio signal.

below are some of the resulting'll need headphones or proper speakers (not computer speakers) to hear these....

an earlier test, shortly after an initial adaptation of a single geophone - ground spike placed against the railings of the humber bridge....

you'll need headphone for this piece & the geophone recording comes in stronger towards the middle of the piece...

in this piece for tate modern, the end section was recorded using geophones placed on the floor of the turbine hall during the night....the sound we hear is the earth vibration filtered through the structure - mixed with the slight rumble of traffic and the river....a section of this recording was also exhibited at Tate Britain, pressed onto vinyl - it was quite something to watch people trying to hear the sound....


& again, you'll need headphones or speakers (not computer speakers) to hear this track properly - the geophone coming in towards the middle of the piece....

bower floor | dawn chorus with rain | canyon wires
music sits above and under the first impression.
when duration allows these things come into focus, increasingly.
in swifter moments a sense of quietude is possible.
still, finding pace with listening as a lens, moving
recorded september 2012, during time spent following a residency at The Wired Lab, this piece begins with two recordings playing at the same time. One of a bower floor, with contact microphones and geophone (nb. some of these low frequencies will not be audible via computer speakers) alongside a dawn chorus amidst light rain - drops falling centimetres from a conventional stereo microphone. Towards the middle of the piece, a further contact microphone recording enters, revealing one of the most bizarre fence wire sounds i've yet managed to gather. Despite returning to the same stretch of canyon fence several times, this particular effect was only present on one occasion and lasted for around 10 minutes. My best guess is that humidity and the rising temperature combined to create a momentary, unrepeatable and extremely evocative effect on the wires. It is this infinite and unpredictable aspect to listening in situ that continues to fascinate me. Getting closer to and underneath the surface of environments and spaces is a constant revelation, a constant pleasure.
jrf c-series contact microphones | jrf prototype geophone | sanken cuw-180

Friday, March 14, 2014

nice review, inc. words on the extract from 'teleferica'....

'The second half of the program was curated from open call submissions. It was such a pleasure to finally hear Jez Riley French’s Teleferica recording after reading his previous guest blog about the process of placing contact microphones on teleferica wires used to haul wood from the hills into the village of Topolo in Italy. Initial listening was abstract and gave me a feeling as though I were listening to something from the inside. When I found out it was the contact mic piece that French had written about, I thought about it for a long while later that night – how each leaf or bug or bit of dust grazing the wires became a full, present sound, and how we otherwise simply would never notice'

Thursday, March 13, 2014

collaborative sound walk for MayFest, Bristol

What would we hear if, on one night, we could enter into a museum of sounds – the sounds that have resonated through the site of Leigh Woods across its history? The echoes of a fire crackling through an ancient camp, or tidal rhythms above a tropical sea bed, three million years ago? Perhaps the sound of the Earth slowly turning, or the groaning of oak trees upon an arctic tundra?
Following a year-long residency with the National Trust, artists Tom Bailey and Jez riley French invite audiences to go with them on a re-exploration of a beloved Bristol landscape, wandering with field recordings in the dark.
Nightwalk 2014, commissioned by Trust New Art Bristol and MAYK as part of Mayfest for the National Trust Leigh Woods.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

'foxley woods fence posts' 

will be part of the current season of events at the Juan March Foundation, Madrid, Spain