Beginning Of The Storm


Running Time: 12:57

Released On: "Field Recordings" - Various Artists (15 tracks)

Label: EFSPACM (Ensemble For Sound Poetry And Contemporary Music)

Release Date: 28th February 2021

Format: Download

Buy Link: Bandcamp




(Excerpt - 8:43)


There is a strong element of serendipity about this track, almost like it willed itself into existence. As it would turn out, not only were we living in interesting times, we were also recording them. Let's go back to the beginning of 2020; Skit and I had been talking over the festive season about doing a second piece in a similar vein to the hour long epic that filled "Solidarietas". That had been largely constructed from non-musical sounds, sourced from Dr. Magic's Audio Lab (thanks, Doc), but we wanted to do something more specific to Knott End-On-Sea for this next work. There are many sounds that locals associate with the village; obviously the Irish Sea and its blustery winds, seagulls et al; the ferry and its calling claxon; the geese whose migratory route we just happen to be on; and maybe not so obviously, Bikers Night every Wednesday through the warmer months! We had in mind a kind of avant garde symphony in three movements (and may yet come back to it, who knows?), so planned to start collecting some recordings around the village.



Skit gets a snap of me on the sea wall, waves coming up over the jetty

On March 12th (Twizz's 7th birthday, don't judge us, she was at school!), we had some impressive weather building up; very high tides, strong winds, it certainly looked like a storm was coming; so Skit and I got the waterproof gear on and made for the front, armed with a Sony IC Recorder apiece. We recorded several samples along The Esplanade and around the jetty, varying from 33 seconds to 5˝ minutes; battering winds (microphone muffs, who needs 'em?), lapping water by the sea path, crashing waves at the mouth of the Wyre; recorders returned to inbreast pockets as we were both emptying water out of side ones! We were quite pleased with the results and stuck all the audio files in a project folder on the music PC, ready to add to them as we were able to. The best laid men of mice with plans, as they say. The day before, although we'd missed it at the time, the World Health Organisation had declared Covid-19 to be a pandemic. Eleven days later, the nation went into lockdown; the ferry stopped running, Bikers Night was off. So our "Avant Garde Symphony For Knott End-On-Sea" got shelved.

Then nothing until November, when I noticed a post on Facebook from {AN} Eel, calling out for field recordings for one of his projects. It seemed a shame having them sat there doing nothing for the last eight months (well, we did grab a few samples for "Mi Casa, Su Casa", but apart from that), and if he could do something interesting with them, why not? And we could always record more when and if the original concept ever became valid again. Then I thought nothing more about them, at least until I got a PM from Volker Störtebeker at EFSPACM on February 25th this year; "Hello Mick, Neal Retke forwarded your field recordings. His project migrated to February project of EFSPACM, since I post one track per act, I wondered which track do you prefer or would you make a medley? Greetings, Volker." I had no idea what he was talking about, I'd thought Mr. Eel had been after field recordings to do something with for a work of his own; they were just raw unedited straight-outta-the-machine recordings I'd sent him, not finished pieces.


Two days later, and after a few more exchanged messages, Volker and I finally ended up on the same page; turns out Mr. Eel had wanted edited field recordings to release on a compilation, on his own Charlie Dog Records label, and to be credited to original artists! It all seems so obvious now. Ho-hum.

"I understand now!" said I, "Be more than happy to assemble a track from them for you, I still have all the original files, when's the release date?"


"Edit and blend 15 minutes of field recordings into a single work, write up some info and notes, design and create an accompanying graphic, get it all back to you today?"

"No problem."

That was my Saturday afternoon taken care of, but then it's not like we can be going to football or anything at the moment, is it?


As I mentioned earlier in this article, when we made these recordings originally, it had seemed like the beginning of a storm. We were just thinking weather-wise, but within a fortnight, the pandemic had gripped the country like a vice. When I was looking through the photos Skit had taken on the day, I was transfixed by the one top right. I could almost see the Covid-19 virus rising over the horizon like a darkly tainted sun, the small lighthouse at Fleetwood silhouetted in front of it. There was indeed a storm coming, in more ways than one...


'Interview With Magic Bullet' (EFSPACM Blog - January 2021)