The Sound of Lochaber

Produced by Mark Vernon and London Fieldworks.

The Sound of Lochaber was a six-part series on Resonance FM created for Remote Performances – a daily live broadcast from Outlandia, a unique artists’ field-station in Glen Nevis, Lochaber, Scotland.

The series merges field recordings and voice interviews into a radiophonic soundscape intended to capture creative interactions with the land, its history and people and tensions between nature, industry, tourism and heritage. It also serves as a timely reflection on contemporary ideas of remoteness.

The audio featured above is a condensed 55-minute distillation of the full series created for a special edition of Framework:Afield.

Recordings used in the creation of this piece included:

The Jacobite steam train from Mallaig to Fort William; interior recordings in carriages, out of the windows, rattling tea cups in the first class compartment, metal bins, close-up of the plughole in the toilets, exterior close-ups of the engine and steam valves.
The Rural Education Centre, Torlundy, Fort William; butter churns, Lola the artificial cow, bee smoker, cow bells, metal bucket, children singing.
The Arisaig Highland Games; bagpipers, laser clay pigeon shooting, running races, fair games, musicians warming up, highland dancing competition and P.A. announcements.
Duck breasts smoking at the Glen Uig Smoke House, the dying embers of a wood fire, ‘Cheep’ the bantam hen chick pecking at bread crumbs, the ‘singing sands’ on the beach of Loch Ailort, workmen hammering, an idling train at Mallaig station, zip slides at Nevis Range, the Nevis Range mountain gondola, water lapping the shores of Loch Linnhe and Loch Ailort, paddling a canoe in the sound of Arisaig (hydrophone and stereo recordings), swallows feeding their young, loading whiskey barrels onto a cart and vehicle reversing beeps at the Fort William Distillery, cockerel crows, feeding chickens and other farm animals, the Glencoe sheep gathering, the song, ‘The Lochaber Gathering’ played by local musicians, mountain streams at Glencoe, domestic boiler, rain falling on contact mics, the Rio Tinto Alcan Hydro pipe at Kinlochleven (including contact mic recordings), water pipe outflow into the river Leven, washing machine end cycle.

This programme also features the voices of: Charlie MacFarlane, Isobel Campbell, Paolo Beradelli , Ingrid Hendersen and the tour guide at the Fort William distillery.

The Remote performances project is documented in more detail in the publication Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture available from publishers Ashgate.