Son Clair albums have always been about the minute details of ordinary places, spaces, and sounds. People feature in them in snippets and snatches, but really only as part of the background ambience - that is, as part of the greater tapestry of sound that they are featured within.
For this album, however, there is only the human voice. The speaker is unknown to me, and the 7" magnetic tape that he recorded his voice on was found in a shop in Rye as part of a job lot of old tapes that I bought to record over with my own music on my reel to reel machine. Before blanking the tapes however, I thought I would play one to see what was on it.
What I heard wasn't life changing, or spectacular, or even particularly memorable – in fact, it was mundane, ordinary life, related through a microphone, set down as a verbal letter-on-tape to be sent to a friend or relation in another country to play back on their own machine in the days when domestic reel to reel machines must have seemed like ipods and iphones do today. Yet, I hesitated over the 'erase' button and put the tape aside. Something about the recording - perhaps its age, or the conversational lack of self-consciousness from the speaker, or just the plain ordinariness of its subject matter, made me feel that I ought to record the sound from it onto my computer and preserve it to a digital format before using the tape again for my own purposes.
So, although I do not pretend this to be Art with a capital 'A', or even Found Sound – indeed, my only role is of a curator rather than an authour, presenting an anonymous other’s work - I feel it is a worthwhile thing to preserve the small, humble and domestic list of events on the tape in a way that invites others to experience it as a snapshot of life. Like finding old letters or postcards from 40 or 50 years ago at bootsales or in antique shops, or reading Alan Bennet's 'Talking Heads', there are, hidden amongst the ordinariness of the language, emotional details that are worth dwelling on - mostly brought about by death, health, or wealth - all of which feature in this monologue as strongly as in life today.
'Hello Shirley and Lou' is a not-for-profit release and is available free to download on a Creative Commons license.
Also included on the album is a recording of an outdoor fete that was recorded on the other side of the tape.
released May 14, 2012
Transfered to tape by Thom Carter. No copyright or authorship is exerted over the audio content of this album. Artwork by Thom Carter.
Son Clair ('Clear Sound') is the ongoing field-recording/environmental sound project of artist and musician Thom
Inspired by the immediate, everyday and extraordinary noises that are all around us, each album of recordings centers around a particular location or place and presents the audio from it as a site-specific sonic portrait....more