october 11th: resonant terrain walk, castletown, portland as part of the b-side symposium
november 23rd-24th: a quiet position: south hill park - 2 day field recording workshop
november 25th: individual tutorials + listening group presentation, Oxford Brookes Uni, Oxford
december 6-8th: field recording workshop with jez riley french & chris watson, norfolk, uk - places available
jez riley french - ‘instamatic: snowdonia’
a document of listening, simply
6 tracks focusing on fence wire recordings & listening to the wind
available as a limited edition, full size taiyo yuden cd mounted on an art card + additional postcard
Review by Daniel Crokaert from 'The Field Reporter' website:
In his Instamatic series, Jez riley French invites us to share his moments of fortunate listening like they are, without make-up nor intellectualizations, retouches or alterations of the source, except a careful selection and probably a bit of equalization… A hike within some magnificent natural region of North Wales, namely Snowdonia, led Jez to look particularly into the wind, that wind which speaks to us, while sweeping at the same timeendlessly across ever changing landscapes… that air which circulates, lifts, makes particles, objects and surfaces vibrate, suggesting their outlines and concrete features…
But, far more than a report about a physical truth, the work quickly switches over to the extra-ordinary, underlining a very personal way of experiencing, of giving another dimension to things, and our environment… Vast palette of amplified metallic resonances of fences planted in the isolation of a still preserved nature…agitation, vibrations, ferruginous supplications…a whole universe stands out, and submits to the laws of another one…a unhurried play of echoes and reflections coming out of the insignificant, and which reminds us constantly that our perceptions are fluctuating, eminently subjective, and tributary of their “captation tools”, but that they can also be the starting point of unexpected emotions… “There’s an aesthete within us all “ seems to be, roughly speaking, what Jez whispers to us.
Through his care, his methodical record, his sense of listening, the creation of his own range of microphones, Jez acts like a revealer, a non-standard intermediary… “Snowdonia” succeeds in closing our eyes slipping us into a long travelling through shaggy herbs, dishevelled by an insistent breeze – a Malickian scene… Just next to us, trembling & bending wires, streaking the rust tones of a jaded vegetation…pebbles shrouded in history shape long grey veins studding the country as far as the eye can see…in the faraway, the shadow of hills asleep, peaceful guardians of a permanent sight… In our ears, clicks, muffled murmurs of cold metal, aeolian moan, all the tense sensoriality of the world…
“Snowdonia” ends up ringing like the name of a mythical place where one has rendezvous with the other-worldliness…that other-worldliness, disguised under common appearances, here finely caught, and alongside which we often pass by in total indifference…
Tuesday, 15 April 2014
new album of hydrophone based recordings
available now as a limited edition cd and digital download
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
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 recordings....you'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.
'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'
the 1st edition sold out in just a couple of months ! 2nd edition now available:
'In the Field - the art of field recording'
by Cathy Lane and Angus Carlyle.
240 page book, hand sewn with flaps.
conversations with Manuela Barile, Angus Carlyle, Budhaditya Chattopadhyay, Viv Corringham, Peter Cusack, Steven Feld, Felicity Ford, Jez riley French, Antye Greie, Christina Kubisch, Cathy Lane, Francisco López, Annea Lockwood, Andrea Polli, Ian Rawes, Lasse-Marc Riek, Hiroki Sasajima, Davide Tidoni, Hildegard Westerkamp and Jana Winderen.
cover photo by my daughter (proud dad moment !) Pheobe riley Law
field recording, in all its forms, has been through incredible creative growth in the last few decades & yet its essential power to engage us in the act & art of listening remains inextricably linked to its subtle simplicity, its ability to make us listen ever more closely to the world in which we move by making us stop for a time....
during 2013 I curated several audio screenings - playback sessions of field recording based work - this collection gathers some of those pieces and, in my opinion, offers a fascinating insight into some of the varied approaches taken by the artists / recordists involved.
'Quiet fields on the way from work' - Skolska 28, Prague Tomáš Procházka, Handa Gote, Alfredo Costa Monteiro, Dimitra Lazaridou Chatzigoga Lucie Vítková, Jez Riley French, Noid, Peter Graham, Andrea Neumann, Ferran Fages Slávek Kwi, Peter Cusack, Michal Kindernay, Miloš Vojtěchovský, Udo Noll curated by Ivan Palacký January 14.January 29, 2014
a specially edited 20 minute section of my piece for Tate Modern - 'audible silence - the tate, sleeping & waking' will be the soundtrack in the special family gallery installation - from 21st Dec - 19th Jan....very pleased that younger folks are getting to hear it even more.
please note: this blog is no longer regularly updated - time is a precious thing indeed and whilst I do what I can to further the various positive aspects of field recording its become increasingly difficult to find time to post information on the rapidly expanding field recording world.
however, I do curate and admin a very active group on facebook 'a quiet position' - do connect there if you've enjoyed this blog
this remarkable public building was, for a time, derelict and on the verge of being demolished. A team of dedicated volunteers and fundraisers have, along with all the other activities that now take place there, given back to the nation a remarkable listening lens.
every building has its own voice, to which is added chorales of the locale in which it sits. I often spend long periods of time listening to buildings and think of it as a privilege and a rare chance to spend time allowing their voices to become fully audible to me. However, asking others to do this at the same time is, I have to admit, often a big ask. We as a species are happy to sit quietly watching something - a view, a picture, a tv or cinema screen, but to sit and listen, paying as much attention to the audible as we do to the visual in our daily lives is something that remains a challenge or a puzzling idea for lots of people.
in the afternoon our small group were free to explore the entire building, listening to it with our ears and with various microphones and devices. During the afternoon break myself & Rae made a recording with small omni microphones in one of the pool sections (tracks 1 & 3), this included playing back into the space a geophone recoding made earlier. In the evening we invited the public to come and listen to this remarkable space (tracks 2 & 4). Some asked what we were listening to or what for ? most expressed surprise at how much they enjoyed the experience even when they perceived that ‘nothing’ was actually being played in the space. That, it seems to me, was a good outcome indeed.
digital reissue of out of print releases, inc. from the 8cm cd reviewed in The Wire:
review from 'The Wire' (December 2008 issue):
'two pieces comprising untreated field recordings of Yorkshire waterways, recorded with the composer's self built hydrophones. He insists that it's not the technical perfection of a location recording that he's after, but a sense of emotional interaction with the landscape. That's not to say that he's slapdash with his methods - both tracks have a fabulously evocative tactile quality that clearly demonstrates the composer's attention to, and delight in the most minute details of sound. The result of such open-hearted diligence is a brief, captivating mini-cd, beautifully packaged (Richard Skelton's work comes to mind), and which reminds us that listening is the most important part of composition' - Keith Keith Moliné
recently the artists Sebastiane Hegarty and Dr. Simon Park attempted to dissolve one of my hydrophones in sulphuric acid - an experiment that not only resulted in some interesting sounds but also in the surprising fact that the hydrophone survived !
here's the post from his website, where you can also listen to a sound sample:
I recently visited the chemical abode of Dr. Simon Park with the nefarious intention of immersing a hydrophone in Sulphuric acid and listening as it recorded the sound of its own dissolve into silence. I provided the hydrophone and Simon provided the acid (also known as oil of vitriol), along with the appropriate protection of gloves and goggles. We decided to conduct the experiment outside on a garden table, its surface protected from harm with a copy of the Sunday Times supplement, featuring Princess and sprout.
Unfortunately, this vitriolic and potentially expensive experiment failed, the Jez Riley Frenchhydrophone quietly surviving all attempts at chemical destruction. However, we were able to conduct other experiments into the sonification of chemistry. Simon has recently been encasing deceasedbumblebees in the blue sarcophagi of copper sulphate crystals. Knowing the anhydrous properties of the compound, Simon suggested we listen to the compound (also known as blue vitriol) quenching its thirst for water. As he dropped the white powder into a plastic container of water, we could hear the exothermic reaction, as energy was released in a short, but deep blue fug of sound. Using a pipette we dripped precisely measured droplets of water onto a hydrophone covered in the compound, producing sonic eruptions of blue like tiny burns in the surface of audition.
i'm pleased to announce that my commission for Tate Modern will be available for listening at The Tate Modern from June 22nd for 2+ months:
audible silence: the tate, sleeping and waking
jez riley french
buildings sing....their walls, their floors, chairs and tables are full of sound, of their own music, made by vibrations, made even by the world turning. these pieces feature only untreated sounds directly recorded with special microphones and listening devices in the tate building itself.
'for this set of 3 new pieces Jez spent several nights alone in the Tate Modern building, listening for hours, capturing moments when the surfaces of the structure resonated or the sounds normally beyond our range of hearing offered up particularly evocative, unscripted compositions'
some test units have now arrived and i've been out testing them with the DPA4060's over the last couple of days. I intend to do further, longer tests in the coming weeks and will be posting some audio soon, but for now here are my initial findings:
. one drawback of other fluffy's for small lavaliers is that they have a habit of falling off, which can be an expensive issue if one spends lots of time out and about recording in different conditions and environments. The BBi's (bubblebee industries) have a much better way of overcoming this issue by having very tight elastic (?) and also with the inclusion of the small 'bubble' space inside.
. BBi's come in a variety of sizes for different mics. With the DPA's (with metal screen on) its actually the 03 size that fits best. The 04 size fits well with the DPA's with the foam pop-shields on also.
. I ran most side by side tests with the DPA4060's in this manner:
1) no fluffy's on
2) rycote fluffy's on
3) BBi's on - size 04 (with & without foams)
4) BBi's on - size 03
5) BBi's on - size 02
tests focused on voice, wooded environment with birds, empty church, piano in church.
. so far i've not detected any large (in relative terms) differences between the rycote and the BBi's in terms of sound quality / clarity. One possible area of difference was slightly noticeable in tests on the voice but further tests are needed to fully explore this. It's a very, very slight difference and those who know me will know that I'm able to listen extremely critically when needed so its unlikely to be an issue for most purposes, even if there is a difference - which i'm not convinced of yet (could have been down to very slight distance between each of the mics or indeed the voice travel itself).
. depending on their price (UK price still to be announced) for now i'd say the advantage of having fluffy's that stay on & that sound very clear indeed means the BBi's are a serious addition to the market. I would think that eventually all fluffy's will have some better way of holding the mics in place or built-in air gap - perhaps like the Rode Lavalier fluffy's, where the mics click into place and are held in a very small air protection cage. Until then, it looks and sounds like BBi have provided a solution that is well worth looking at.