- Duration: 14:25
- Instrumentation: fixed medium
Microclimates III-VI was originally four sound installations spatialised in 3rd-order ambisonics and later remixed for concert performance. Each movement attempts to capture the total-senses experience of four Western Norway locations during a field trip in April 2007.
Microclimates III-VI was realized in 2007 at the composer’s studio and premiered on the 1 September 2007 during the Sleppet project in Bergen (Norway). The piece was commissioned by the organisation Grieg-07 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Grieg’s death. The work was first released in 2009 on the disc Sleppet, +3DB (3DB 006).
On my first attempt to record sound at the foot of the Briksdalsbreen (Briksdal glacier) in Stryn (Norway) I arrived when the wind was so strong that it forced rain horizontally. For brief milliseconds I could open my eyes to glimpse a blue ice monolith through the turmoil. Some days later, on my second attempt, the scene was completely different. Although grey and drizzling, there was not a breath of wind and the forms in the ice were revealed: an enormous wall of blue twists and gashes, suspended vertically an unknown distance away across a lake. I jumped into the small rowing boat and slowly lowered two hydrophones (underwater microphones) into the water. The guide rowed so close to the face of the glacier that as my microphones recorded its electrical sparking, sucking, squeaking, whistling, burning and clicking sounds, I could at the same time run my hands over the smooth curves of its close-up form. To this constant singing and talking was added a single underwater ice fall. Gracefully the boat glided away from the face. Glacial Loop (Microclimate III) is an evocation of this boat journey.
Wet Face (Microclimate IV) takes sound from marsh birds, dripping water, squelching mud, tearing moss and rotten tree-wood in the Sandane area in Gloppen (Norway). Initially the forces appear gentle. Later, when the microphones are subjected to what for our normal ears is a gentle ‘pitter-patter’, we hear a bombardment. The rhythmic performance of incessant dripping had begun when I arrived. Its millisecond timing was mechanically perfect. I expect it will be the same year after year. Maybe the rhythm will change as the rock is eroded.
For Water Fall (Microclimate V) I threw two hydrophones off a bridge into white rapids in Holvik (Norway) while two normal microphones captured the air-born soundscape. Turbulence and eddies dragged the hydrophones, tossed them suddenly into the air or further down stream, smacked them into eddies or plunged them into imploding air cavities. After a while I attempted to anticipate where the microphones would end up and what type of sound they would capture — or to ‘play’ the waterfall.
The timing of my trip meant that an excursion to Utvær island — the most westerly point of Norway — would not enable entrance into the main attraction of the lighthouse, nor to overnight on the island. Instead the idea was to overnight at Hardbakke — a westerly point on the mainland — and daytrip by boat to the island. When I arrived a full storm brewed in the distance. Later that evening I received an SMS from an old sailor friend reading “full storm, 40 knots south westerly. This is no weather for sailing in the open ocean. Stay on land.” The next morning a call came from the captain saying he needed more time to get hold of a “bigger boat”… The driving rain and wind had clearly not deterred him. Out at sea my stomach continually leapt into my mouth. At Solund the wind and rain drove horizontally (an experience I would once again have at the glacier). The wind sung around every rock, every corner, through every gap. The island was scattered with small houses. At one end rose the lighthouse. Open porches offered some rest from the raw weather. The lighthouse’s locked door hid a tower of still air. The wind knocked me over and my equipment became entangled in a thorny bush. The wind buffeted both bush and microphone as one.