Hello you. We’re travelling to some very remote locations on Resonance FM’s Fog Cast this week, starting with the sounds of space captured by the British Antarctic Survey, then moving on to the remote Finnish ireland of Örö; before returning home to a silenced lockdown London, which in its own way feels like a distant world now that so many people appear to have completely forgotten we’re in the middle of a pandemic! Not to worry, though, it’s a sublime listen for those of you still stuck in isolation – though be warned it’s not always an easy one! Here’s the tracklist:
Sounds of Space Project – Sonic Rain 4.45 AM / In the Heart of the Storm 8.00 PM [from Aurora Musicalis, Sounds of Space Project, 2020]
Amy Cutler – a childish attempt to read the immense ineffable riddle of the world [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Stubbleman – 6am – Chorus / 8 am – Soliloquy [from The Blackbird Tapes EP, Crammed, 2020]
Amy Cutler – vigil for örö (one month of fieldtrip sounds – radar, bird calls, bunker bell system, ice, rust, swamp) / ghost antler lichen [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Stubbleman – 4 am – Conversation – Soliloquy [from The Blackbird Tapes EP, Crammed, 2020]
Amy Cutler – moth examination station [from Örö Tape- Fieldtrips of the Damned, Fractal Meat Cuts, 2020]
Sounds of Space Project – Aurora Musicalis Compilation Sounds only [from Aurora Musicalis, Sounds of Space Project, 2020]
Our proceedings kick off this week with The Sounds of Space Project, a trio consisting of the British Antarctic Survey’s Nigel Meredith who supplied the space sounds, composer and pianist Kim Cunio, and Diana Scarborough who produced this very fine accompanying video. Their debut album Aurora Musicalis is available for free online and very splendid it is too, combining ambient piano with recordings captured by a Very Low Frequency (VLF) receiver at Halley Research Station in Antarctica to striking effect. The accompanying notes to this release claim it to be ‘partly an imagining of what it would be like to stay at the Halley station with a grand piano’, though to my ears the glacial celestial ambience on display is in no way redolent of the kind of logistical nightmare such a task might entail (for one thing the temperatures would surely play havoc with the tuning?)! A fascinating listen, anyway. I’ve featured two tracks here plus the bonus recording of unadulterated space sounds which closes both their album and today’s show, and would heartily recommend further immersion.
Someone else who is sensibly not travelling with a grand piano (unless I’ve missed something) is sound artist, writer and cultural geographer Dr. Amy Cutler, who spent an isolated month at the end of 2019 on the remote uninhabited Finnish island of Örö and has just released a new album of field recordings, spoken word and cut-up concréte poetry culled from her experiences on Graham Dunning’s Fractal Meat Cuts label (at the time of writing there are only TWO copies left, so go man GO!). Örö Tape: Fieldtrips of the Damned has been described by the artist as ‘audio for a final fieldtrip, or vigil, in a world becoming haunted […] a tape cassette of pathetic fallacy / emotional spectrums of atmosphere / the walk-through or play-through of a “last man” winter outpost / your heart turning to ice as extinction sets in’ and to my ears it’s as beautiful and austere as the wintery island that inspired it. Dive in and feel that Baltic chill!
Also featured on the show this week is The Blackbird Tapes, a brand new digital EP of London lockdown ambience by veteran producer and sound engineer Pascal Gabriel, trading here as Stubbleman but with an artistic CV as long as your arm. A sequel to last 2019’s Mountains And Plains LP, it’s a trio of new works that Pascal claims have been ‘inspired by the increase in birdsong floating in through the top floor window of my London home’ and it’s recordings like these that are pretty much the reason I launched Fog Cast in the first place. ‘Each of the three tracks is based on a field recording of blackbirds and their friends singing at different times of day over three weeks during the London lockdown in April 2020’, Pascal continues, ‘I’ve taken the melodies and atmospheres evoked by the recordings and used a minimalist arrangement, simply overlaid with upright piano and analogue synth, to create these meditative compositions’. In some ways it’s a shame to think that this quiet stillness has disappeared almost as quickly as it arrived, but hopefully Stubbleman has some more of this wondrous works up his sleeve. In the meantime this EP is out now on Crammed Discs.
Really quite a trip this week, wasn’t it? I do hope you’re enjoying Fog Cast as a series so far. If so, please consider making a donation to the ever redoubtable Resonance FM who have remained on air throughout the entire lockdown to ease isolation. All programme makers and engineers happily donate their time and resources for free and the station depends almost entirely on the generosity of its listeners, so why not visit https://www.resonancefm.com/donate and do what feels natural? They’ll thank you for it and so will I!