Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sound Recording in Iceland
with Chris Watson and Jez riley French

Following our previous highly popular sound recording trips to Iceland in 2013 and 2014, for 2015 we’re returning to this fascinating country, this time to the Selfoss region in the South for an opportunity to spend several days recording the sounds of spring in 24 hour daylight with Chris Watson, a leading figure in the world of wildlife sound recording, and field recordist and artist Jez riley French.

Our base will be Hotel Borealis, close to the largest lake in Iceland, Pingvallavatn, and surrounded by stunning locations including the Pingvallir national park and volcanic rift, the Gulfoss waterfall and the famous Geysir geothermal area. Further afield is the moon-like landscape around the geothermal vents of Krysuvik. 

We’re also within a couple of hours of the South coast, with its numerous black sand beaches and the fishing villages of Eyrarbakki and Stokkseyri, with its surrounding swamp-like waterways. 
June in Iceland is a time of 24 hour daylight - so we’ll have lots of time for recording, exploring, discussing and, occasionally, sleeping ...
We’re booking all rooms in the main hotel and two separate bungalow style buildings and as well as the friendly hotel staff there will be a French chef (who has lived in Iceland for over 30 years and is an expert in both French and Icelandic cuisine) and two minibuses to allow us the greatest flexibility for recording trips. The range of spectacular habitats will enable us to experiment with surround sound techniques, ambisonic microphones & software, hydrophones, contact mics, geophones, ultrasonic detectors, parabolic systems and a range of stereo and mono recordings. We will also have genelec speakers at our base for reviewing recordings and group discussions. It is expected that you will have some recording experience and your own equipment to bring (although we will have some extra gear with us that everyone is welcome to try).
Some of the many wildlife species we may encounter include: red throated diver, whooper swan, atlantic puffin, himbrimi, arctic fox, arctic terns, whimbrel, golden plovers... whilst we’ll also be hunting for fence wires, bubbling mud pools, abandoned structures, melting ice and spaces with unique natural acoustics.

Accommodation is in private rooms with wi-fi. Most of the rooms are in the main hotel (which we are booking in full) and each room has its own bathroom. Three rooms will be in 2 separate bungalows (each with one bathroom). Breakfasts and two course evening meals are included.
In an interview with Chris Watson in Music Tech magazine (Dec 2012 issue) when asked his favourite place to record Chris said: 'Iceland ! it's a beautiful place, with great people and great culture. What's more, it's relatively noise-poluution free. It's where fire and ice meet, of course, so there's great sound potential there.'

Day 1: Travel from Reykjavik to Selfoss - an approximate 2-3 hour drive in our two minibuses. We’ll break the journey for a rest and also to call at a supermarket for basic extra supplies. We aim to arrive no later than 6pm, in time for an evening meal and to settle in.
Day 2-7: Recording activities - places we are likely to visit include:
Day 8: Depart. We will set off early, after breakfast, for our return drive to Reykjavik, perhaps taking in one last stop along the way. We will aim to arrive in Reykjavik in the early evening.


Chris Watson is a composer who specialises in recording the sounds of wildlife and the natural world. His freelance career in film, radio and TV has taken him to some of the worlds’ remotest places. Watson worked on David Attenborough’s Life and Frozen Planetproductions for the BBC, which both went on to receive BAFTA Awards in the Best Factual Sound.
Watson’s compositions are based on the voices of animals and habitats in the natural world and the built environment such as heather moorlands, tropical forests, deserts, steelworks and the arctic ocean. As well as creating soundtracks for broadcast, Watson produces multi channel sound installations, live performances, public lectures and workshops.

His music career stems back to the early 1970s when he was a founder member of the experimental group Cabaret Voltaire. In 2000 he received an Award of Distinction for his Touch CD ‘Outside the Circle of Fire’ in the Digital Music section of the Prix Ars Electronica. The University of the West of England awarded him an Honorary Doctorate of Technology degree in 2006, and in 2011 he received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of the Arts, London. He has undertaken commissions from Aldeburgh Music, FORMA Arts & Media, the British Film Institute, The Louvre and Museums Sheffield. 
Jez riley French is a composer, artist & audio specialist whose output involves elements of intuitive composition, field recording (using conventional & extended methods) photographic images (including their use in photographic scores) and improvisation. He has performed, exhibited and had his work published widely across the world and also lectures in both field recording and the act & art of listening. Recently his work has been exhibited at Tate Modern, Tate Britain, Artisphere (USA) & at festivals and galleries in Italy, Japan, Czech Republic, Australia, Iceland etc. He also curates the 'a quiet position' project / facebook group on aspects of field recording / listening.
Jez also makes & sells his own hydrophones and contact mics ( In recent years Jez has been working closely on a number or projects that seek to capture a sense of place and moment that is both highly personal and yet offers a fascinating opportunity to look and listen anew to the environments in which we spend our time.

Travel Information
Visas: Please check if you need a visa to enter Iceland (holders of normal British 'European Community' passports do not need one).
Insurance: It is essential you take out comprehensive travel insurance. Whichever insurance you choose please ensure it provides adequate cover for both you personally and also for any equipment you may be bringing with you.

9-16 June 2015

UK£1,595.00 plus international flight to Reykjavik (which you book yourself - recommendations will be sent on booking). You may have to/wish to arrive a day or so early due to flight times, so you should also budget for accommodation to cover this.
Includes activities, local travel, accommodation and breakfast/evening meal each day.

Booking: If the home page shows that there are places available please complete the online application formand send in your deposit/fee as detailed. Booking requires a deposit of £200, the balance to be paid two months before the start of the trip.
Places are strictly limited so early booking is recommended (as is the booking of flights).

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