“Only with distance can you see the
landscape and understand where to make your stand. So walk. Until there is
silence. Until you can see the horizon. Walk. And, where you find peace,
clarity, drive your stake. Own the terrain and anchor yourself.” @agoodfireburns
Sitting here typing, June 23rd 2020. A stunning summers day. I can hear the neighbours lilting music drifting across the back gardens; East African, he tells me, Eritrea. His name is Troy. The beats and melodies blend in with the intermittent bird song, the loud buzzing of an enormous fly struggling against the kitchen window and the gentle breeze rippling through the trees in the garden.
And I think back to March 23rd when everything suddenly changed…
aUDIOMAPSis an ongoing project. It’s an integral part of my practise as an artist but it’s the most difficult element for me to define. Part music, part soundscape, part sampled mashup, part noise. That weekend when the ‘prime minister’ (hmm) declared ‘lockdown’ I gathered up the essential items from my studio and brought them home.
Eight track. Two old Akai S20 samplers. A mono synth. A Casio keyboard. Kaos pad. Microphones. Cables. Mixer. Less is more.
Over the ensuing weeks (on permitted exercise walks or cycle rides) I recorded the sound of lockdown. Bird song. The river Porter. Ambience. There wasn’t much else happening really. I pulled several old LP’s out from my record collection - classical pastoral symphonies. I sampled melodies and refrains from the dusty crackling grooves. I started to assemble loops and samples via the Akai S20’s and the eight track.
“With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, it’s reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else.” — Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
A chance conversation in passing (socially distanced of course) with James Barlow (Leopard Hunters) resulted in him saying yes to me sending him some tracks to remix… That evening I looked at the pieces I’d made in order to decide which sets of stems to send to James. By that point I’d transferred the audio to Audacity and had deconstructed and manipulated the tracks so they had a filmic, slow motion narrative vibe. I started to think about the idea of asking a few other close friends, family and colleagues if they would like to also remix. And there it was; a lockdown remix idea…
Amidst all the silence and the fear, the bird song and the clear skies, the foreboding, restrictions and isolation. The time to think, to pause. Memory, making connections. This remoteness. This sense of place and time. An idea was forming.
“…Quite spontaneous feelings of inner
peace and well being at seemingly mundane crossroads and intimations of
historical importance along the course of minor farm tracks.”— Britannia Obscura; Lines across the
Landscape, Joanne Parker
At times like this you often tidy up or look through old stuff in boxes and cupboards. Up in the attic on another overcast damp early April afternoon, I opened my suitcase ‘archive’ of super eight films. These were shot between 1986 and 1993 in Bristol, Sheffield The Peak District, Dundee and the Yorkshire Coast. Grainy, weathered, scratched, delicate. In my mind I started to make a connection between the audio samples and their inherent glitched quality and the super eight film and its fractured silent narratives. And there it was. aUDIOMAPS (RE-imagined). Each remix would have its own visual counterpoint. That remoteness, memory and sense of place grafted together via borrowed and archive material re-imagined in the hands and imagination of someone else. Bang goes my ego!
“Like everyone else, I imagined my island as an idyllic place, a utopia. My dream promised that if this perfect place could be found, it would be possible to start afresh and do everything differently, far from the pressures of the mainland. It would be a place to find peace, too find oneself, and to finally be able to concentrate on the essentials again.” — The Pocket Atlas of Remote Islands, Judith Schalansky
So as I finish this text and look at the where we are now; The utter carnage that Covid-19 has wrought. The shapeless, hopeless politics of a government that gaslight us daily. The magnificent surfacing of the Black Lives Matter movement. The ambulance sirens still wailing in the wind. I didn’t ignore all this. Far from it. It was there all the time. Creating an oasis of calm was essential. I needed to reflect. And listen…
A shared, collaborative venture.
A re-imagining of original recordings by aUDIOMAPS.