And here's the sheet music, on the off
chance you'd like to accompany us
Whilst not specifically
released as such, this recording has been out in the public domain since it
was broadcast as part of John Wills' The Great John Cage Project - In
Lockdown, although it very nearly didn't happen at all. It's often been
argued that anybody could have composed 273 seconds of silence, and
maybe so, but John Cage actually did it! Legend. The intriguing notion that
it's not about listening to nothing, it's about listening to everything.
Well, it's clearly not just us that appeals to, Pumajaw member and ambisonic
sound acolyte, John Wills, is an other. Don't get me wrong, I'm not accusing
him of being one of the bad guys in Lost, rather a fellow true
believer in the joys of the silent aural experience. He decided to
take advantage of the incredible noise reduction that the first lockdown had
brought to the world, a chance to really hear some of the sounds that
surround us every day, only to be drowned out by the motor vehicle and
general cacophony mankind itself generates. As a nod to the great man
himself, each recording would have to be 4:33 exactly (yes, Shaun Robert is
another Cage fan), all of which would then be collated into a series of
podcasts and ultimately gifted to the British Sound Archive for posterity. A
noble quest indeed, thought we, the Bullet were in!
ATTEMPT No. 1...
And we knew the perfect place
to record it was just at the other end of the village; Knott End jetty. The
long ferry slipway, made famous by L.S. Lowry's painting, marks the meeting
point of the River Wyre and the Irish Sea as they come together at the edge
of Morecambe Bay. On Friday 1st May, Skit, Sam and myself walked down there,
armed with camera, iPhone and the handheld Sony IC Recorder. As is not
unusual in Knott End-On-Sea, it was windy. Very windy. Skit grinned broadly
and admitted he'd deliberately left the microphone muff at home so we'd end
up with a noisy recording. We had half a mind to send him back to get it,
but we figured it was hardly gale force, and if we put the recording devices
on the concrete between us, it should adequately shield them and completely
thwart Skit's evil plan. So the three of us sat on the edge of the jetty,
feet dangling towards the sea below, and carefully positioned our devices. I
checked Skit was ready to start (e.g. shut the fuck up for five minutes,
just for a change), he confirmed he was and I counted us in, 1 - 2 - 3 - 4,
and it was a go...
"Good performance." I said
cheerfully when Sam gave the signal that time was up.
"I'm good." Says Skit.
"I think we nailed that, mate."
Sam said nowt much. Bit shy.
But she did take the photo (right), bless her.
When we got back home and
listened, we were actually quite surprised at what we heard, because what we
thought had been reasonably well shielded recording devices had produced a
serious ear-battering, albeit with the sounds of the sea in the background.
"Yas!" Skit punched the air
triumphantly, "that's the Bullet!"
Hey ho, thought we, it
was an honest and un-doctored recording, and yet very Magic Bullet at
the same time, so we submitted it at 5:02, complete with count in and end
"Yes, indeed." John responded,
"The wind noise becomes quite mesmeric. Thank you so much for participating
in the project. I'll be in touch very soon with more details about the
But he wasn't, and because
we're not above begging, we contacted him again.
"I really love the concept
behind your recording and the picture you sent is great." He began, in such
a way that we could sense the but that was obviously coming, "I have
a problem with the constant wind noise on your recording (I know this is a
nightmare to avoid). Is there any chance you could do a re-run on a more
still day? I know this is a lot to ask but I do really want a Magic Mick
production! Please put me out of my misery and let me hear The Ferry Slip."
How could I refuse such a
So, on Monday 8th June, which I
think was the next day the winds fell below 10 miles per hour (it doesn't
happen too often around here), I snuck back down there on my own (when Skit
wasn't around), armed only with camera and Sony IC Recorder. Oh, and
microphone muff. What a difference! You could hear everything; the water
running along the side of the jetty, the gulls, a distant car, a dog barking
and some annoying arsehole in a microlight. I duly cut it to the prescribed
4:33 and sent it in. John was a happy bunny now and duly playlisted it as
first track on the eighth and final podcast of the series (phew!), as "Lockend
Jetty (UK)", which would undoubtedly have poor Mr. Lowry turning in his
grave and I sincerely hope he corrected that before committing it to the
British Sound Archive for eternity, but at least we got there in the end! It
was several days before Skit would talk to me again, and he still threatens
to find somewhere immensely noisy to record his own solo version. Be afraid.
Be very afraid...
Skit (right) and myself posing for a
photo to accompany our first attempt