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KELLY, FERGUS - Local Knowledge

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Unfathomless U44
Release Year: 2017
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €14.00


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This album uses field recordings made along an approximately 4km stretch of North Dublins Royal Canal, between Ashtown and Phibsborough. They were made with a Sound Devices 702 recorder, a Zoom H4N recorder, a Samsung smartphone, and using DPA 4060 omni-directional mics, hand-built binaural mics (made by engineer Dave Hunt), and JRF contact mics and hydrophones. These recordings were made, on and off, over a period of about one year, at various times of day, in order to capture as broad a sense of place according to the influence of the seasons and levels of activity.

This is an area near where I live that I particularly like to walk, and is a popular strolling spot for various age groups, families, dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and people fishing. Over time I have become sensitive to its soundscape and how it defines the character of the place. A train line runs parallel to the canal across much of this stretch, and there are a number of small industries near the Broombridge train station. There are ongoing construction works in this area as part of the Luas tram developments. Parts of the canal are flanked by football training grounds. There are steel pedestrian swing gates at various points, and lock gates controlling the flow of water.

Traffic crosses over bridges at Ashtown and Broombridge. Dublin airport is not far away, and the sky is regularly crossed with planes and traffic-monitoring helicopters. There is a rich vein of avian activity with presence of crows, magpies, blackbirds, tits, robins, sparrows, starlings, gulls, greenfinches, wrens, swans, mandarin ducks, mallards and moorhens. Quite a few people responded vocally to my presence whilst recording with that inimitable Dublin character that is as much a part of the landscape as other sounds, giving it its unique local flavour. Most dont get the idea of a lone sound recordist. Where is the film crew ? Despite the lack of a camera, one person asked me if I was taking photographs. A salient reflection on a visually obsessed culture.

The compositions use field recordings as the sole material. Some of these are processed to whittle down and draw out essential essences and resonances, reducing some sounds to long harmonic smears, deep tonal undertows and higher pitched shimmering presences. A lot of the recordings are left clean, to focus on the rich natural sound colour and dynamic, and to root the work in its place of origin. Composing with this balance of figurative and abstract elements has been the modus operandi for many years, as it creates a dynamic and imaginative interplay of elements, with a sense of incident and momentum that moves it away from pure documentary.

The work is about creating a space in which to connect with the sonic environment in a considered and meaningful way. Hearing tends to be relegated to a poor relation to seeing in a visually overloaded world, yet it is something we are surrounded by all the time, and cannot shut off from, even in sleep. Unlike our eyes, we cant close our ears. My work encourages focused listening and a more active and engaged relationship with the sonic environment.

(Fergus Kelly, 14 April 2017)