― Mark, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
There's also Eric La Casa, whose field recordings I listen to as often
as I can. They demand close attention, though, which means you gotta
put aside a whole hour to listen to one. "The Stones of the Threshold"
on Groundfault is just terrific.
― John Darnielle, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― the pinefox, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
and amg has proved very unhelpful in looking up "field recordings."
all i get is alan lomax, et al.
― jess, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Tom, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
I have a few records like this. The Sounds of North American Frogs is
cool, and actually very educational (it's a Smithsonian record from
the 50s that was reissued on CD a couple of years ago and hyped by
Aquarius SF.) The texture of the various frog noises is intriguing,
and the between-track narration is informative (but unfortunately
wrecks the flow, as far as listening just for sound’s sake.) An old
ambient mixtape trick for me was to mix the sound of a chorus of
frogs with the Oval/Microstoria remix "Runtime Engine." The
similarity in those sound environments always gets me.
I also have two LPs of train recordings. What a strange thing –
records made of train sounds. My grandfather was WAY into trains, and
I remember he had a few of these. Every now and then I put one on
LOUD and marvel at the sound power of these machines.
I think train recordings are great, and can also enliven actual pop
I once met a Gothic woman who made dance records with train noises
for the rhythm tracks - c. 3 minutes between stations. I have never
quite been able to see whether this is a perfectly logical idea or a
― Edna Welthorpe, Mrs, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Jay, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― gareth, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
(+ cf. also tram at end of 'Sirens' for more detail re. writing
Wasn't the North American Frogs record revealed to be some kind of
Do Alan Lamb's telegraph-wire recordings count under this rubric?
― lee g, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Last summer I made a series of field recordings in all 28 SE London
postal districts. Each recording was 10-12 minutes in length and,
aside from attempting to keep any evidence of my own presence (and
that of the recording equipment) to a minimum, I didn't really enter
into it with any rules or any great notion of what I was trying to
achieve. As I went along, I got a bit better at it (mic set-up,
finding good secluded but sonically rich environments) and by the end
I wished I could do the first dozen or so over again. Ultimately I
segued the most 'interesting' 150-second portions from each postcode
into a single CD-length piece.
Here's the rub: I got it *wrong*, geographically speaking, right on
my own doorstep - believing Crystal Palace Park (being in the borough
of Bromley) to be SE20 not SE19. If I wasn't sure quite what I was
trying to do with this project, I'm pretty sure I know what I
*didn't* want to do and this is it.
So, the project is effectively void in my mind and it's on with next
one: all 120-odd London-wide postcodes, recording in cafes and greasy
spoons. So far I've done one.
All this was inspired by David Tremlett's "Spring Recordings" - a
1972 piece in which the artist made cassette recordings in rural
locations in all (at the time) 81 English & Welsh counties. Inspired
not so much by *hearing* these works (I did listen to a snippet at
the Tate Liverpool last year), but by the activity of methodically
transcribing ambient sound in this way.
Aside from Chris Watson, I'm not sure I can think of anyone who's
doing this sort of thing (without treating the recordings in some
way, a la electroacousticians, or incorporating them into a musical
framework). I think my favourite field-recording is the one I made
in Maryon Park in Charlton in the summer of '99.
― Michael Jones, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
There's a page here that makes a passing reference to someone named Peter Becker having "an interesting theory that The Conet Project...was nothing more than an elaborate hoax." However, the Ghost Orchid project, in a blurb about which that reference is made, seems far more dubious.
btw, the Judy Garland tape right above it on the page looks amusing. Not to mention -- "Insect Noise In Stored Foodstuffs"!
― Phil, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Let's see what I can find on this old internet:
okay, check the last 4 of the records listed on this
page. they're missing one... i can't remember the name of it,
it was equally as goofy as these.
to be a complete rockist, I have a soft spot for the french kids
throwing firecrackers at the end of Gastr Del Sol's "The Seasons
― http://gygax.pitas.com, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Tim, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Scott Walker's "Tilt" sounds like it was recorded in a train station.
― emil.y, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Sean Carruthers, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
That said, I had heard of shortwave "numbers stations" for years
before the Conet Project came along. Which, granted, doesn't mean
that the ones found on the discs are real.
― Andy, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― David Inglesfield, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Ned Raggett, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Listening to it right now - if I wanted to give you a glib answer
(and somehow I do, though you deserve more than that) I'd say Carsten
Nicolai remixing Eno's On Land (though how much the presence
of the latter is suggested to me by knowledge of the methods used [I
imagine vast heavy grey skies over Scottish islands], or the
thickness and slowness of the sound, I dunno).
It's Kaffe Matthews, and what she's done is to take acoustic
phenomena (the kite strings' vibration, ground-level recordings,
sounds from the computer room at the field station) and subject them
to looping, panning and filtering determined by the meteorological
data (temp = start point, wind = length, kite position = pan, etc).
Oh hang on, there's some bloody fragmentary poetry on it now. That's
torn it. Why can't people shut the fuck up?
Third John's recommendation of the Chris Watson albums. Wonderful
And yes, "Shut Up, Little Man" does count, I think. One of those things
that fluctuates between "very, very funny" and "not at all funny,"
depending on my mood when I listen to it. To roughly quote the guy who
recorded it, "you have to wonder what kind of right to privacy people
can expect when they're yelling at the top of their lungs."
― Douglas, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― Brian MacDonald, Friday, 25 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― N., Saturday, 26 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
― your null fame, Saturday, 26 January 2002 01:00 (seventeen years ago) link
Stumbled upon this thread while searching for background info on Justin Bennett's great "Mosques of Tanger" CD, which I picked up several years back while on vacation. Thought I'd kick in a few cents.
I was one of the original contributors to the Conet Project, and since then I've been assembling and researching several further volumes of vintage shortwave recordings. As such, many of my favorite field recordings have to do with broadcast sounds (both deliberate and unintentional).
Michael Jones commented on the modern tendency to remix or "musicalise" found sound recordings, and there are a few notable exceptions to this sorry rule. The problem I find is mostly a matter of packaging, which can sometimes make it difficult to track down this sort of thing; a lot of what we might consider "field recordings" gets released as "experimental music" or filed in the avant-garde/"noise" genre. Many labels seem to do this as a matter of course, as if the recordings in question need this sort of cod-philosophical, post-modern grounding to justify their existence.
Much of the catalogue on Ash International (and, to a lesser extent, Touch Recordings) comes to mind. They've done some interesting work that qualifies as "field recordings": location recordings of VLF and ELF radio phenomena, an emergency transmission from the operator of a runaway train, the overwhelming roar of the Santa Pod drag-racing track, and the aforementioned "Ghost Orchid" project purportedly containing distorted speech recordings of the dead via radio. (A second volume of the "Ghost Orchid" series was released containing only the recordings of so-called EVP specialist Friedrich Jurgensen.)
Touch Recordings have put out some great samplers which intermingle field recordings (including those of Chris Watson and Disinformation) with more "musical" items, but their field recordings are very intriguing and evocative (a recording of the Swedish talking clock, a hushed recording of a domed library in England) in their own right.
And, although I believe it was mentioned above, Steve McGreevy's untreated recordings of auroral phenomena (also issued on Irdial-Discs, home of the Conet Project) are quite haunting as well. Worth investingating.
There are other oddities that I've managed to turn up, but they aren't specifically "field recordings" so much as oddball demonstration records or the usual Salvation Army quarter-bin fodder, so I won't mention them here.
Wonderful stuff, though.
― Myke Weiskopf, Tuesday, 11 February 2003 13:32 (sixteen years ago) link
― A Nairn (moretap), Monday, 24 February 2003 23:40 (sixteen years ago) link
Do you have any advice for doing this?I've filled a few minidiscs of field recordings but too much of is ruined by the sound of wind blowing against the mics or my jacket rustling, etc. (I could probably fix these with a little more practice, but what did you learn from doing your recordings?)
― A Nairn (moretap), Monday, 24 February 2003 23:43 (sixteen years ago) link
Tony Schwartz Invisible Cities (The Janek Schafer track here is particularly great--a recording of the postal system!) the Quiet American. (There are tips for recording under links/resources.)
If anyone knows about other good sites, do tell.
― Matt B., Tuesday, 25 February 2003 02:44 (sixteen years ago) link
― Rickey Wright (Rrrickey), Thursday, 16 March 2006 21:42 (thirteen years ago) link
what i'd really like, is some field recordings of lighthouses, but, they dont really make sounds as such?
― charltonlido (gareth), Thursday, 16 March 2006 22:00 (thirteen years ago) link
not really "field recordings" so much as experimental bird music, but:
― Bangkok Serious starring Yahoo Dangerous (Pillbox), Monday, 15 February 2010 18:14 (nine years ago) link
Someone mentioned the Marc Namblard recording of ice melting on a lake. It's pretty astounding. Has he done much else?
― village idiot (dog latin), Monday, 17 May 2010 14:21 (nine years ago) link
every time i listen to this falling asleep, i wake up at 4am, needing to pee. still recommended.
― ☆, Saturday, 29 May 2010 00:41 (nine years ago) link
So has anyone been to hear Chris Watson's Whispering In The Leaves at Kew Gardens in South West London? I went there this afternoon and ended up staying for the rest of the day just so I could hear the 15 minute field recording three more times.
Watson, who was a member of the original 1970s incarnation of Cabaret Voltaire, has made a name for himself as a sound recordist of distinction. I didn't really know much of his stuff until I heard a track on Boomkat's 14 Songs For The City At Night MP3 bundle last year and then a fantastic BBC Radio Documentary on the use of a hydrophone. Both of these things seemed to immediately and viscerally disprove the myth that field recordings were the work of joyless trainspotters or, worse, cranks. He'd made tapes of birds or a microphone being lowered into a glacier sound as portentous or mind-warping as the 'recordings' of the bow shock of Jupiter.
He's the cover star of this month's [amazing looking] WIRE magazine where he talks about his history making field recordings and the Kew Gardens project.
Normally I don't take much persuading to head to these Victorian hot houses and their grounds near Heathrow (the Palm House is the suitably exotic location for The Cure's Caterpillar promo) but this was something else.
The recording played every sixty minutes on the hour in the morning is the transition from dark to light in the rain forests of Central and South America and the one that I heard captured the sounds heard while the sun sets.
The remarkable thing about the piece itself is that you'd be hard pressed to hear the same thing twice, no matter how many times you went because of the number of axes it runs along. North/South. East/West. Up/Down. And of course the progress of time.
Eighty speakers are placed around the massive wood and glass palm house that allow you to 'move around inside' the recording, around the floor among the palms and up and down the wrought iron spiral staircases. There is a constant shimmer of insect noise no matter where you are but you move in and out of monkey and toad calls. Thunder sounds like it's seeping in from above along with the 'real' sound of planes taxi-ing in to Heathrow overhead.
The funny thing is most adults in there don't seem to be aware it's actually on but their kids do judging by the amount searching in vain for the source of the monkey noises.
There is an undeniable 'musicality' to the piece. The insects form a pulse or rhythm of sorts. I don't think it's too fanciful to suggest that you can hear some Autechre in it... If you watch people inside the glasshouse you certainly see some of them nodding, absent mindedly, 'in time' with it.
The last time I listened to it I saw someone familiar looking sat under a palm, eyes shut, smiling. It was Watson who got up and left quietly, unnoticed, after it ended.
― Duran (Doran), Wednesday, 11 August 2010 19:39 (nine years ago) link
Some favorites that haven't been mentioned:
Voices Of The Rainforest: A Day In The Life Of The Kaluli People Recordings by anthropologist Steven Feld in the Bosavi highlands of Papua New Guinea, documenting the chatter as the rainforest awakens, the imitative call and response chants of the people as they harvest and log, an evening ceremony, and then the drones of the forest again. Possibly the best recording ever documenting the origins of music.
Antarctica by Douglas Quin - the underwater recordings of Weddell seals are the main attraction here. You can hear them in the last 5 minutes of this presentation.
Brokenhearted Dragonflies: Insect Electronica from Southeast Asia by Tucker Martine - high pitched drones that, yes, sound synthetic (much as the Weddell seals above do).
A Sound Map of the Hudson River by Annea Lockwood. A full descent from upstate streams to NY harbor by a well-known academic composer.
Weather Report by Chris Watson - my favorite of his, due largely to the inclusion of the cavernous creaking ice recorded at Vatnakojull glacier.
L-fields by Michael Prime - Don't know if this quite qualifies, as these are recordings of bioelectrical fields of psychedelic plants (Cannabis sativa, Amanita muscaria, and Lophophora williamsii).
― ὑστέρησις (Sanpaku), Wednesday, 11 August 2010 21:15 (nine years ago) link
Geir Jenssen - Cho Oyu 8201m – Field Recordings From Tibet documenting his trek up Cho Oyu is really nice. village sounds, yak herds, snow crunching... a good time.
― hobbes, Wednesday, 11 August 2010 23:11 (nine years ago) link
Nice collection of field recordings from India: http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Broos/Field_Recordings_from_India/
― geeta, Thursday, 25 August 2011 04:41 (eight years ago) link
there's this self-absorbed artworld quality to a lot of the trappings and discourse of fieldreporter-style field recording that consistently irritates me, especially when i go to find something and discover that it's available -for money-. like, i understand the reasons for even field recorders and sound artists to sell recordings, be compensated for their time, their creative work, have their perspective honored, and for their recordings to be embedded in meaning-making practices like having titles and packaging and lifestyle marketing blurbage and little philosophical reflections like the white cards next to the installations in galleries, and i get all the post-cagean post-duchampian rationales for the extended criteria for the art object, it's not supposed to be any different—
but it still seems like there's something… incongruous, at least, about commodifying what would otherwise be one of the most modest, least insistently 'artistic' uses of sound around. something that seems essentially self-effacing has all kinds of ego- and social- junk laid right back over it.
― j., Monday, 24 February 2014 00:05 (five years ago) link
― we sold our Solsta for Rock'n'Roll (Noodle Vague), Monday, 24 February 2014 00:08 (five years ago) link
plus there's the tediously constant pair of nostrums
1. u really need to undo some of ur listening habits
2. oho u thought this recording was real! actually there was a very sophisticated process
like, sure, but, really? when that's connected to a zen-style mindfulness schtick i can get the practice-minded aspect of it, nothing new, always the same, still work on self to do, but when it touches on more of an artistic challenging-the-audience critique-of-, my bad temper clouds everything else and makes the schtick seem like posturing or worse, charlatanism that trades on the relative oddity of being preoccupied with field recording and hour-long stretches of the sound of almost nothing
― j., Monday, 24 February 2014 00:19 (five years ago) link
i just want to listen to recordings of spaces, without fuckery, and without being beaten over the head with nerd laws
― we sold our Solsta for Rock'n'Roll (Noodle Vague), Monday, 24 February 2014 08:25 (five years ago) link
unbelievable booming & crackling sounds. usually lakes that are this completely frozen are also covered with snow and difficult to record with hydrophones, but due to the drought (and the fact that all of yosemite's roads were still snowfree and open in january) cheryl leonard got some unbelievable recordings
― Milton Parker, Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:46 (five years ago) link
did I mention that these recordings were unbelievable
other recent listening: http://www.discogs.com/No-Artist-The-Lyrebirds-Of-Tidbinbilla/release/2908085
― Milton Parker, Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:47 (five years ago) link
& if you haven't heard cheryl's other music, it's magic: http://www.musicfromtheice.blogspot.com/2013/12/new-instrument.html
― Milton Parker, Tuesday, 25 February 2014 19:57 (five years ago) link
just got round to this, the yosemite ice sounds truly fantastic
― ogmor, Thursday, 20 March 2014 17:08 (five years ago) link
Does anyone on here actually, um, record field recordings?
― djh, Sunday, 18 December 2016 16:13 (two years ago) link
Pondering buying one of these ... Zoom H2n Portable Recorder
― djh, Tuesday, 20 December 2016 21:53 (two years ago) link
i actually use on old sony minidisc recorder.
― ( ^_^) (Lamp), Tuesday, 20 December 2016 23:44 (two years ago) link
What do you *actually* record? I often think "I'd love a recording of those church bells" when I'm on holiday and kind of wish I'd been able to record the starlings at Otmoor the other week. I'm trying to decide how much enjoyment I would get out of recording (sometimes I think a lot).
― djh, Wednesday, 21 December 2016 21:44 (two years ago) link
i record them on my iphone :)
― Whiney G. Weingarten, Wednesday, 21 December 2016 21:46 (two years ago) link
I've heard good things about the Zoom, also heard good things about the stereo condenser mics that you can plug into your phone. I still use my old Roland Edirol, or an app called Smart Voice Recorder on my phone. Or, for best results when I'm not lazy, this:
― sam jax sax jam (Jordan), Wednesday, 21 December 2016 21:48 (two years ago) link
The zoom is a brilliant budget option. I'm not sure you'd need much else.
Fwiw, I started to record a bunch of things (I got it to record a nearby rookery) and I quite quickly got a bit bored of it.
― Sunn O))) Brother Where Art Thou? (Chinaski), Thursday, 22 December 2016 18:29 (two years ago) link
I used to do this sort of thing (this is 15 years ago! Jesus. Sharp MD recorder and small-capsule binaural mics)...
I should do it again.
― Michael Jones, Thursday, 22 December 2016 18:52 (two years ago) link
Anyway, new Simon Scott tape here:
― djh, Monday, 2 January 2017 21:01 (two years ago) link
Any thoughts on Kate Carr's recordings?
― djh, Thursday, 26 January 2017 17:50 (two years ago) link
Might be of interest:
― djh, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 19:51 (two years ago) link
Can anyone remember the name of a recording of *ice melting*, probably released sometime in the nineties?
Google not really helping as lots of people seem to have recorded ice ... but this was actually released.
― djh, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 19:52 (two years ago) link
not from the 90s but... maybe this?https://www.discogs.com/Marc-Namblard-Chants-Of-Frozen-Lakes/release/1337021
― (⊙_⊙?) (original bgm), Tuesday, 7 February 2017 20:11 (two years ago) link
what the that white noise arctic ocean icebreaker thing sounds amazing!
― niels, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 20:49 (two years ago) link
looks great on HDTV too
― Brad C., Tuesday, 7 February 2017 20:55 (two years ago) link
Baikal Ice by Peter Cusack?Fathom by Douglas Quinn?
Not sure/don't recall about cracking ice sounds, but both made in icy environments. Fathom is underwater recordings at the poles.
― bryan, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 21:01 (two years ago) link
It's Quin. Autocorrect strikes again.
― bryan, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 21:02 (two years ago) link
It wasn't this ... I don't actually think this much *happened* (but I quite like this):
― djh, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 21:28 (two years ago) link
It was this (released later than I thought):
― djh, Tuesday, 7 February 2017 21:39 (two years ago) link
The Black Isle by Serbian composer Manja Ristić. Enjoyed getting totally immersed into this last night.
― calzino, Monday, 8 July 2019 10:31 (four months ago) link