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WHITEHEAD, CHRIS - Ravenscar

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Unfathomless U12
Release Year: 2012
Note: field recordings from a small coastal village lying direct at the North Sea in North Yorkshire, England, almost 200 metres over the Sea; recordings of wind, ocean, a tunnel, a radar station, etc.. mainly spacey, droney, microsounding.. fabric-pressed CD, numbered ed. 200 copies
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €14.00


More Info

Ravenscar stands 600ft above the restless North Sea. To many it is simply a stopping off point between Whitby and Scarborough, commanding expansive views of the beautiful North Yorkshire coastline. Yet this place is also a canvas on which the overlapping layers of history have left their fingerprints.
The recordings that form this work were collected over two years during various seasons and in a range of weather conditions. Natural materials collected from the site were manipulated in several ways to add a sense of intimacy and perspective.
Although the piece is intended to be listened to as an unbroken whole, five distinct phases are passed through:

Wind: A consequence of Ravenscars exposure is its surrender to the wind which sculpts the cliff top trees and relentlessly batters the sparse buildings. Much the same prospect must have confronted the Romans when they built a signal station here in the 4th century AD.

Alum: In 1640 alum was discovered in the rocks, the production of which became the first British chemical industry. An alum works was built on the cliff top where the complex production process took place. It involved fire, seaweed and huge quantities of stale human urine.

Tunnel: When the railway came to Ravenscar in 1884, W. H. Hammond paid for a 279 yard tunnel to be built so that the view from his house was not compromised. The line closed in 1965. The disused tunnel now remains as a dark and baleful monument to the ghosts of steam.

Grass: In 1897 the Ravenscar Estate Company Ltd. began building roads, laying sewers and creating gardens. Their optimistic vision to fashion a holiday resort rivalling nearby Scarborough bore little fruit. Few plots were sold, and in 1913 the company folded leaving nature to reassert her dominance.

Radar: The stark remains of a Second World War radar station stand at Bent Rigg. Operational from 1941 to monitor shipping and aircraft, these long redundant concrete buidings are now used by sheep as a welcome refuge from the unceasing winds. (Chris Whitehead)

www.unfathomless.net


"This Whitehead is not to be confused with the other, Gregory (of whom we haven't heard much lately, sound wise that is) and I don't think I heard music from Chris Whitehead before. He did his bunch of field recordings in a place called Ravenscar, in North Yorkshire but he also uses materials which he retrieved from the site. I looked the place up on google maps and it looks like a quiet small place near the coast. But maybe that was something I could have told you from listening to this forty-three minute work. It starts out with sea waves, it has the cracking of leaves, rusty agricultural devices (which occasionally buzz), all melted in a fine long piece that has somewhere between the twenty and thirty break (indicated on the cover as 'Tunnel') some hollow sounds, the tunnel probably, and some close range fire like sounds. It has a nice drone like texture to it. Towards the end the live farm stock plays a small role too, as well as a bit of street sounds. This is not the work of pure
sound documentation which we sometimes see in the area of music, but Chris Whitehead has perhaps (!) processed a bit of the sounds, and if not, then he surely did a more than fine job in putting all of these recordings into an excellent audio picture of that area." [FdW/Vital Weekly]