The squid can hear you


Mojave desert

This is a piece I made recently based on my visit to the Mojave desert north of LA around two years ago.


The work is based on the several hours of four-channel recordings (although this is the stereo mix version) I made in the desert. I was recording with four Sennheiser MKH40s going straight into a Sound Devices 788 at 96KHz. I played around with quite a few different microphone placements mainly with the mic's arranged as two pairs of XY however as the wind wind picked over the course of the day I found that actually the best arrangement was to have the mic's spaced around six feet apart in a square and on the floor but angled up by resting them on some rocks.


The piece is much more about an evocation of the feeling of being in the Mojave certainly not an accurate phonographic documentation of the ambient sound in the desert, and as such I also made some studio recordings which I added to the piece including a heavily processed stereo recording of a bull roar.


Shoeburyness recording part 1

I recently travelled down to Shoeburyness, a town situated at the mouth of the Thames Estuary about an hour and a half outside London. It is a place I’ve visited and recorded many times.

One thing I’ve not done before is explore the former Shoeburyness Artillery emplacement and barracks as I usually walk along the sands all the way to Leigh-On-Sea.


So firstly all the technical stuff. I was recording with a pair of Sennheiser 8040s (in an approximate ORTF arrangement) then into a Sound Devices 744 by way of a Sound Devices Mix Pre.


As I began to explore the old military buildings, most of which are now sadly sealed against human entry, I stumbled across a half open concrete structure which was presumably at one point or another a lookout post with such a perspective of vantage over the estuary mouth. As soon as I stepped inside I felt the sound close in and change in a striking way as the structural resonances and reverberations enforced their colouration on the relative neutrality of the sound of waves crashing against the course sand beach and wonderfully defining the space. Below is a short excerpt of the ambient sound within the building and a few photographs.



A little further down the coast I saw part of the disused barracks with an intriguing hole in some of the metal grill being used to keep it sealed up. On closer inspection this building had obviously become the place for Columbidae to get together and hide from the harsh coastal weather.


So I placed my microphones through the hole and pressed record.


The sound inside was amazing, you can even hear their chicks demanding food a little later in the recording as well as the noise of a little Wren hopping around on the floor! The only drawback beyond the dismal weather (which is the default position for the English coast anyway!) was that since my last visit a lot of construction work appears to have begun on two different sites both no more than 100m away from the artillery so a majority of the recordings I took are not particularly clean. That is why this is ‘Shoeburyness recording part 1’ as I will be returning soon on a Sunday in the hope that it is a bit quieter and I can take some nice and clean surround recordings with my double M/S rig.

NB/ Thanks to Helen Frosi for all the wonderful photographs (and for putting up with the rain!)

Hello World!!

Hello! This is my first foray into the Blogosphere. Here I’ll be writing primarily about sound, documenting my endeavours hunting for various sounds and sharing some of my internet finds!

To start off here is an intriguing phenomenon I learned of during a recent talk by Richard King:

It is known as singing, sounding, rumbling, musical, barking, moving, moaning or booming sands and was written about quite extensively by George Curzon in ‘Tales of Travel’ (published 1923). Which you can find here