Sunday, 8 June 2008

recording diary: Prague # 1

Invited to Prague by the good people at Skolska 28 gallery, I begin by recording the empty rooms here at the residency building ( open studios, Dolni Pocernice ). Thick stone walls, the flight path overhead, birds that never seem to sleep & the rise of the motorbike culture here in the Czech republic all contribute to the results so far. However, the smallest of the three studios has a warm bass pressence that I need to record more - so I change rooms & make that my space for the duration of my stay.

I spend a day getting intentionally lost on the Prague tram system, in sweltering heat but I don't record anything. I need some time before I can feel I have settled in - for me recording is part of my visit not the whole focus of it. I can't feel inspired to record until I feel at ease with the places I visit.

Before I can explore Prague itself any further, Dana from Skolska 28 takes me for a weekend at a former priests house, with several unused & unrestored rooms, out buildings & a dry well, all set in amongst the slow life of a country village in East Bohemia. It offers any number of interesting sounds and I dare say many recordists would jump straight in & have the place documented to the full, but there is such a calm here that I leave my equipment undisturbed for some time. The dry well proves too tempting & before the end of the first night I have lowered microphones down to about half way & listen to the echo of dogs barking around the village.

I indulge in several, simple recordings taken from windows and various lofts - these are very much aural snapshots, to remind me of this place. There are swallows eating the crumbling plaster & a few contact microphones capture this odd event that sounds a bit like rain on thin ceramic tile. Then the thunder starts & the rain comes down so fast & so hard for just a few minutes before passing into the distance along with the last rumble of clouds colliding. Luckily I was recording in one of the lofts at the time.

On the last night of this weekend in Krasna Hora, I record an empty room in the downstairs apartment overnight. This is, so far the most silent space I have recorded. In the morning I listen back & have to check that the microphones were on at all ! but after 10 minutes or so of trying to discern any sound at all there comes a single crack of wood - perhaps something falling over or one of the floor boards contracting from the cool night air.

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