Sheet Erosion

Audio Archaeology Series Volume 3: Brest

Sheet Erosion is the third episode in a series of works based around ideas of audio archaeology and found sounds. The setting this time is the city of Brest in France.

The piece is comprised of field recordings made in early 2020 during the storms Ciara and Desmond plus a batch of found open-reel tape recordings dating from the 70s and 80s. The tapes include domestic home recordings but mostly document the recordist, Michel’s tastes in music and radio programmes of the time. Daily life bleeds into these lo-fi recordings of radio and TV shows. Captured with a mic in front of a speaker rather than directly cabled, ambiguous activities can be heard in the background; babies crying, feedback, chairs scraping and muffled conversations.

In the composition family histories and musical tastes are transposed over a more contemporary soundscape of Brest. Over-saturated tape distorts time as well as sounds. Speeds change. Chronologies become confused. Different instances in time are blended and fused. What seeps through these chronological crevices are events and incidents unmoored from linear time taking place in a chimerical non-space.

Field recordings used in the piece include: Le Téléphérique de Brest (cable cars), hotel lifts, wind whistling between railings on the Pont de Recouvrance, wind whistling through gaps in doors, traffic, ventilation units, fans, light bulbs, alarms, automatic toilets, soap dispensers and hand driers.

The piece was originally commissioned as a radio work for Kunstradio and was first aired on Ö1, Austria on Sunday 29th August, 23:00 – 0:00 (CET). An album version has since been released as a CD on the Sonoris label.