I spent a few days at Pete Harvey’s Pumpkinfield studio in Perthshire to record the first set of music for Surface Tension: guitar, piano, cello and analogue synth all burbling away.
A central idea to the release that I’ll put out early in 2015 is to experiment with different ways of degrading and ‘polluting’ the recordings, in the same way that the field recordings (and the Lea itself) undergo different pollutions, modifications and changes along the river’s course.
I’ve made a set of tape loops of the recordings on my 1/4 inch reel to reel recorder, and will leave them to soak in a tub of River Lea water collected besides Walthamstow Marsh. The water samples are full of duckweed, water snails, dirt, and doubtless thousands of microscopic diatoms and bacteria.
I’m treating each tape loop with the Lea water for different lengths of time (taking inspiration from the scientific water sampling experiments that Thames 21 carries out along the river’s length) – leaving them for between one day and two weeks – to see what forms of sound degradation occur (if any). I’m interested in the unexpected and the unintended sounds that might start happening when the tape starts degrading and falling apart.
I’m using the same treatment for some of my 35mm and 120 film negatives taken along the river’s length, which are currently soaking in the same tub, left in a sunny spot of my garden. Like with the reel to reel tape, I’m interested in finding out what visual distortions, flaring and disintegrations the soaking process will impose on the negatives: in both cases experimenting visually and sonically with pollution.