The Listen to the Weather project asks musicians to create new music from sound-related data and one additional element, “their favourite song about water.” That’s how the formula is described at listentotheweather.com by the project’s curator, the Australia-based sound artist Kate Carr. Among the entries in the project is this one by Guy Birkin, whose work has been featured here previously (including a granulated guitar drone in February of this year and a deeply nostalglic remix of a children’s TV-show theme song in April). This time around, Birkin has taken as his material numeric data of the “light level, temperature and relative humidity” during a 24-hour period in Sneinton, Nottongham, in the U.K. He then used the data as a controller for a variety of sound manipulations. As he describes it, in brief:
Light level controls grain amplitude; temperature controls grain location within the sample; relative humidity controls grain density. 24 hours of data is compressed to four minutes of sound, with the result that the track starts quietly at midinight, becomes louder as the sun rises, changes with the atmospheric conditions, and settles down to a calm, warm evening, before finally fading away again.
While the piece includes sampled sound (“four minutes of ambient sound from the same location, and percussion made with that sound plus filtered noise and sine waves”), it’s a fine reminder that when we talk about “field recordings,” we’re talking about more than just audio documentation; we’re talking about all manner of observation.
Original track at soundcloud.com.