May 5th

Somewhere near a field in Oxfordshire

At daybreak, my face still turned to the wall, and before I had seen above the big window-curtains what tone the first streaks of light assumed, I could already tell what the weather was like. The first sounds from the street had told me, according to weather they came to my ears deadened and distorted by the moisture of the atmosphere or quivering like arrows in the resonant, empty expanses of a spacious, frosty, pure morning; as soon as I heard the rumble of the first tramcar, I could tell whether it was sodden with rain or setting forth into the blue.

Marcel Proust The Captive (1925)

Leaning out of an upstairs window I can hear the sound of hedgerow birds, chickens running in one of the nearby gardens; a football bouncing on a paving slab and then being kicked into the shrubbery; a lone car heading West on the A4130 sounding the asphalt; a Red Kite circling overhead. I lean out further, listening into the distance, into the future, waiting for the tide of mechanised sound to return, for the drone of tyres on asphalt, not the phasing passage of a single car, but the sweeping tide of traffic sound flooding across fields, down lanes, through dense woodland. Perhaps it is still here, cars pass in groups, the air vibrates, the X2 pauses at the bus stop. Covid 19 has transformed our sounding environment, but how much is that transformation felt in any one place, in a place on the periphery of the situation? Can I hear it from my window? Is it evident in my everyday? And when will the tide of sound turn? and when it does turn how will we feel about it? As the air begins to vibrate with the phasing of distant jets will we want to step back or will we embrace the return to the normative sounding of the world? The soundscape is ambivalent. It represents the reduction of pollutants in the atmosphere but also signals the absence of loved ones. The temporary absence of friends but also the permanent absence of those who have lost their lives. This is a soundscape of hope and a soundscape of loss. It is a soundscape of a brighter future, one where listening to the world is part of the decision-making process we undertake when we chose to travel or not to travel; but it is also a soundscape of a brighter past, a past where now lost loved ones were still with us, where we could hear the sounds of their voices vibrating in the air and not just in memory.

I made this recording on Tuesday 5th May:

05052020

February 27th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 27th has arrived, the unspectacular is here for the penultimate time. There’s sweeping, piano practice, the television – standard.

(February 27th 2019 piano practice, sweeping, the usual)

February 26th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 26th is here and I know this post isn’t meant to be about the weather but it’s warm, seriously warm. Double doors are open and there are birds singing. In the other room Stan is on the x-box.

(February 26th 2019 birdsong, Stan playing x-box, nothing)

February 25th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 25th is here and there’s the breakfast stuff to tidy up, weetabix wrappers to dispense with, you know the sort of thing.

(February 25th 2019 weetabix wrappers being dispensed with)

February 24th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 24th is here and nothing’s happening except the dishwasher, emptying the food waste, switching lights on and off.

(February 24th 2019 switching lights on and off)

February 21st

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 21st arrives and brings with it the sound of potatoes being sliced!

(February 21st 2019 Potatoes being sliced)

February 20th

In 2009 I contributed a project to Sound Diaries awkwardly titled Unspectacular February. We had just published a series of recordings from the first minute of 2009 full of fireworks, excitement, and new beginnings and so it seemed like we should follow this up with something from the everyday business of being. The result was a series of one minute recordings capturing the everyday activities of the kitchen – the sound of the dishwasher, kettle, fridge, toaster, cutlery drawer, microwave and the more distant sounds of the house – television from the next room, footsteps upstairs, the washing machine in the shed. I thought that I should mark the passing of ten years by doing this again. I’m in a different kitchen now but many of the objects are still the same.

February the 20th is here and there’s some butternut squash and chick pea curry bubbling on the stove, the cat is looking for some food, and the usual activities of heating up water and operating the microwave are in full effect.

(February 20th 2019 Thai curry on the stove.)