Excerpt from Colony, my new field-recording based composition reflecting upon the colonial soundscape of Australia
I was recently invited to contribute a piece for the phonographic series Each Morning of the World (curated by Stéphane Marin). The series travels around the world to present soundscapes / recordings of early mornings from various acoustic perspectives. Stéphane Marin invited me to contribute work for the Oceanian region of the series which can be listened to by following this link.
The series has some incredible recordings by some very gifted field recordists. Its objective is best summarised in Marin’s words:
This project tends to focus on the vivacity and the creativity of the « soundscape » scene in the world. In this goal Stéphane Marin asks to a representative sample of sound creators, composers, recordists who use fieldrecording as a part of their creative process to share with the audience a creation based on recordings or a raw recording of their own morning in a precise location of the world. The project also tend to cover the most larger (or representative) part of the continents area in 15 to 20 contributions per season. The rule is simple : a “soundscape” (from 3 to 12 minutes) is release each Sunday morning.
My contribution to the series, Colony, focusses upon a small area surrounding a colony of fruit bats in the town of Mullumbimby (Australia). Originally inhabited by the Indigenous people, the Bundjalung, in the 1850s Mullumbimby was colonised by European timber cutters who used the river system to float logs to boats waiting downstream. During this period the Bundjalung culture was disrupted and the ecosystem was forever changed. Huge areas of forest were turned into farmland. The Bundjalung endured massacres and cultural dislocation.
Today along Mullumbimby’s local river, where timber cutters once floated logs to the ocean, a small colony of fruit bats has taken up residence, perhaps displaced by the ever-diminishing area of trees. Early mornings along the river are filled with their screaming calls. I love this new form of colonisation, nature returning in a wild and unwieldy way right in the centre of suburbia.
The recordings that constitute this piece were taken over 1 hour. Beneath the sound of bats you can hear tiny spots of autumn rain hitting the microphones and heavier drops hitting the roof of my car. When gently tapped, the metal railings of a bridge spanning the river reverberate in a way that subtly punctuates the sound of the bats flying above. In this juxtaposition we hear the native sounds and introduced sounds.
To hear Colony in full please visit the band camp link here.
Thanks to Stéphane Marin for inviting me to contribute work towards the series.