Chris Watson Releases on Bandcamp
We have now made available selected editions of Chris's Touch catalogue on Bandcamp, complete with pdfs of the booklets and CD artwork:
Stepping into the Dark (1997)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
"In recent years I have noticed that some of the locations I visited as a sound recordist displayed remarkable and particular characteristics. These may be sparkling acoustics, a special timbre, sometimes rhythmic, percussive or transient animal sounds. Without a doubt, playing a recording made at one of these sites can recreate a detailed memory of the original event. Also, as others have described, there is an intangible sense of being in a special place — somewhere that has a spirit — a place that has an ‘atmosphere’. These recordings avoid background noise, human disturbance and editing. They are made using sensitive microphones camouflaged and fixed in position usually well in advance of any recording or animal behaviour. The mics. are then cabled back on very long leads to a hide or concealed recording point, the aim being to capture the actual sound within each particular location without external influence. Sites are discovered by researching local natural or social history, by interpreting features on a map or through anecdote and conversation with people about their feelings for or against particular places. The author and researcher Tom Lethbridge identified the sources of several spirits within the topography of the area. I suspect that this also includes flora and fauna, local time of day, the weather and the season. The following recordings are the atmospheres of special places." [Chris Watson]
Outside the Circle of Fire (1998)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
The purr of a leopard close up against a baobab tree, waiting. Whales surfacing, breathing in cold air. Coll starling imitate the noise of farm machinery from the hollow ring of a ruined bothy. The rattle of wood over a black stream... Chris Watson's second CD is a dramatic contrast to the spacious atmospheres of "Stepping into the Dark" (Touch TO:27, 1996). Featuring 22 close-up recordings of animals, birds and insect life, "Outside the Circle of Fire" enlarges our awareness of the sound universe, intimate with voices from the past. There is an intensity here that television pictures cannot conjure.
Weather Report (2003)
The weather has created and shaped all our habitats. Clearly it also has a profound and dynamic effect upon our lives and that of other animals. The three locations featured here all have moods and characters which are made tangible by the elements, and these periodic events are represented within by a form of time compression.
This was Chris's first foray into composition using his location recordings of wildlife and habitats - previously he has been concerned with describing and revealing the special atmosphere of a place by site specific, untreated location recordings. For the first time here he constructs collages of sounds, which evolve from a series of recordings made at the specific locations over varying periods of time.
El Tren Fantasma (2011)
Compact Disc edition no longer available
Vinyl edition - "The Signalman's Mix" still available
"Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history."
El Tren Fantasma, (The Ghost Train), is Chris Watson's 4th solo album for Touch, and his first since Weather Report in 2003, which was named as one of the albums you should hear before you die in The Guardian. A Radio programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 30 Oct, 2010, produced by Sarah Blunt, and described as "a thrilling acoustic journey across the heart of Mexico from Pacific to Atlantic coast using archive recordings to recreate a rail passenger service which no longer exists. It’s now more than a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across country. Chris Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel this route. As sound recordist he was part of the film crew working on a programme in the BBC TV series Great Railways Journeys. Now, in this album, the journey of the ‘ghost train’ is recreated, evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects.
A Wing and a Prayer | BBC Radio 4 14th February 2016
John McCarthy explores the sacred and profane place of birds in our daily lives.
He considers the many spiritual meanings birds have for humans. From doves as biblical heralds of the Holy Spirit to ravens in the Qur'an, birds are at the iconic heart of almost all world religions. But how did they get there? Is it their ability to fly which grips us? Or the apparent purity and beauty of (many) of their songs and calls?
Along the way, John explores the parallels between listening to Vaughan Williams' Lark Ascending, hearing a dawn chorus in Kielder Forest and seeking a personal pathway to the divine. He also recalls a bird-inspired moment of hope during his time in captivity in Lebanon - a memory triggered by the music of the singer Fairouz.
John's conversation with keen birdwatcher and author Stephen Moss reveals that the international bird of peace is not nearly as pacifist as it seems, and uncovers the true meanings of birdsong, which prove to be both paradoxical and far more profane than sacred.
The programme includes poetry from John Clare, prose from Gerald Durrell, and music from Canteloube, Respighi and Chris Watson.
The readers are Madeleine Bowyer and Peter Marinker.
The Santa Rita Concerts: Chris Watson
24 February 2016, 19.00
The Little Museum of Dublin
15 St Stephen's Green, Dublin
An evening with Chris Watson, one of the world's leading recorders of natural phenomena. The evening begins at 7pm with a Santa Rita wine reception and pre-concert interview with the performer. The performance begins at 8pm sharp. Tickets €13 pre-booked; €15 on the door.
Ash 11.2 | Ánde Somby “Yoiking With The Winged Ones"
Vinyl LP + Download + bonus track, “Čuoika”. All downloads are 24 bit recordings by Chris Watson.
Design by Philip Marshall
Photography by A K Dolven
Cut by Jason at Transition
A1. Gufihttar (underworld fairie)
A2. Gadni (spirit of the mountain)
A3. Neahkkameahttun (from the other side)
Yoiking is the ancient chanting practise of the Sámi People - the indigenous peoples on the top of Europe. Yoiking originates from time immemorial - legend tells that it was the faires and elves of the arctic lands that gave yoiks to the Sámi People. Yoiking was an important element of the religious rituals in pre-christian times and has survived both christianity, imperialism and the fact that Sámi areas were confiscated by the states of the north; Norway, Finland, Sweden and Russia.
Ánde Somby is deeply rooted into the yoik tradition. He comes from the eastern part of the north Sámi areas and in the tundra tradition of the reindeer herders and from the valley tradition of arctic farmers. His yoiking is both quite technical as well as melodic - Somby is at the same time an innovative yoiker. All the three pieces on side A are his compositions. His signature as a yoiker is an expressive style performed on the borders of the human voice.
The title of the work refers to the fact that the migratory birds that have made it to the arctic for their breeding season are an important part of the record. With the assistance of a local crow they break the arctic silence by singing and calling. The title also makes a more subtle reference to the sound flying from the echoing mountains.
The project itself has three inspirations; the yoiks were given to the humans from the fairies and elves. This gives an emphasis on that yoiks are of the earth. The second inspiration is that there is a war against fairies and elves going on; in Norway that war was waged by the national poet Henrik Wergeland in the song Nisser og Dverge and has continued with stripping the earth of its soul and giving free license to aggressive exploitation. The emphasis is asking the fairies and elves if they still are doing good. The third inspiration is the European myth about Narcissus and Echo; Echo does not find her love as Narcissus rejects her, but she is given an eternal voice. Yoik and Echo meet in this work as echo yoiks along together with the underground energies.
The recordings are made by Chris Watson, the world famous sound artist and leading field recorder. The recordings took place in Kvalnes, Lofoten mid June in 2014 in a moment while the arctic winds had a little rest. Chris Watson has also done the post production. A K Dolven took the photos for the project and has been instrumental in developing the concept. Thanks also to Tony Myatt.
“Life would have no meaning without us listening”
BBC Radio 4, Tuesday evening , 22 Dec 2015 – 5 Jan 2016 at 21.02
(repeated Wednesdays at 15.30)
Presenter Chris Watson
Producer Sarah Blunt
“Life would have no meaning without us listening”
In this three-part series, we meet individuals whose professional lives and/or personal lives are focused listening and interpreting the sounds they hear. The first programme focuses on human speech; words, dialect and language. In the second programme we meet individuals who listen to the sounds of places and spaces as we explore the world of echolocation and reverberation, and in the third programme we meet three individuals for whom listening is much more than an aural experience; but something much deeper motivating their work and their lives.
Lighthouse Stories, RTÉ Radio 1 | Sunday 7pm, 8 November 2015
Chris Watson describes using the beam of the lighthouse to record seals on the Farne Islands at night - and remembers the curious slow motion aggression between the fighting tortoises of Dassen Island, off the western coast of South Africa. Also in this programme, Melissa Murray re-reads 'To The Lighthouse' by Virginia Woolf and Dermot Bolger remembers inviting Salman Rushdie to the Baily Lighthouse at the height of the fatwa. Presented by Luke Clancy.
Forest Fables | 3-6 November 2015
A series of sound rich stories commissioned by the Guardian to reinvent the forest fable. Each piece is set in a particular British Woodland and was recorded on location with award winning sound recordist Chris Watson and Pascal Wyse. The series is sponsored by The Woodland Trust and features new stories from Ali Smith, Alan Garner, Evie Wyld and Alec Finlay.
Produced by Alannah Chance with original recordings and sound design by Chris Watson and Pascal Wyse
1. Written by Ali Smith
In the first of a series of exclusive sound stories inspired by the UK's woodlands, the award-winning writer weaves a spellbinding tale from an encounter between a boy and a strange green child
2. Written by Alan Garner
In the second of our series of exclusive sound stories celebrating Britain's forests, Alan Garner reads his own tale of a newcomer who finds 'ancient noise' beneath the choked underlife of of Cheshire's woodlands
3. Written by Alec Finlay
In the third of our series of exclusive sound stories celebrating Britain's forests, the Scottish poet and artist Alec Finlay reads his tale of a mythical submerged woodland
4. Written by Evie Wyld
In our fourth exclusive sound story celebrating Britain's forests, the Granta young British novelist Evie Wyld reads her unsettling tale of marital tension at the end of times
Sound Design Academy | Podcast
Chris Watson – Field Recording at Its Finest
"This week I had the absolute honour of talking with field recordist, musician, and audio ace Chris Watson. For those unfamiliar with Chris, he is considered one of the top field recordists in the world. He’s worked on Frozen Planet, The Life of Birds, Big Cat Diary, Life in the Undergrowth, Nature, Autumnwatch, and many more. If you want a bigger impression of this amazing artists work check out his website at www.chriswatson.net and you’ll get an even better picture. Needless to say, he’s had and is still pursuing a stunning career that many of us only dream of!"
Gossip from the Garden Pond | BBC Radio 4
Another chance to hear six characters in and around a garden pond, reflect on what life is really like between the lily pads and the buttercups. Written by Lynne Truss. Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
BBC Radio 4, Tue 25 Aug, 23.02 We hear from the tadpole (Julian Rhind-Tutt) and the dragonfly (Alison Steadman)
BBC Radio 4, Tue 1 Sept, 23.02 We hear from the water boatman (Sandi Toksvig) and the Great Diving Beetle (David Ryall)
BBC Radio 4, Tue 8 Sept, 23.02 We hear from the garden spider (Amanda Root) and the Great Pond Snail (James Fleet)
Sounds of the Sea Workshop | Sunday August 23
Sunday August 23rd, 11am-1pm, Normans Bay, near Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 6PS
The iconic Finback Whale of Museum of Zoology, Cambridge was washed ashore at Normans Bay near Pevensey in 1865. Join us as we return to the site with wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson to record the sounds of the sea. These recordings are for inclusion in the Ocean Song soundscape that will accompany the skeleton in its new home, a fabulous Whale Hall being built as part of the Museum's redevelopment and due to open in 2016. Learn about recording the sounds of nature, discover the sounds beneath the ocean's waves that are normally out our hearing, and have a go at collecting sounds yourself. This workshop is free. Places are limited and booking essential. To book a place, email here
Ocean Song at Pevensey
Sunday August 23rd, 3pm-5pm, St Nicholas’ Church,
Church Lane, Pevensey, East Sussex, BN24 5LD
Discover a world of underwater sound as we go on a journey from sea shore to open ocean with sound artist Chris Watson. Explore your own voice teacher and choir leader Rowena Whitehead, creating the sounds of the sea and the music it has inspired. Through this workshop we will be building a symphony of the oceans using human voices, to be recorded and woven into the sound installation that will accompany our iconic Finback Whale skeleton in his new home. Don't miss out on being a part of the Museum of Zoology and add your voice to the Ocean Song soundscape!
Soundstage | BBC Radio 4 (repeat)
There’s another chance to hear SOUNDSTAGE on BBC Radio 4
Mondays at 09.30am, 17 Aug – 14 September
Monday 17 August, BBC Radio 4, 09.30-09.45, Midnight at the Oasis
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson narrates the first in a series of audio postcards capturing spectacular wild sound events, beginning in the Kalahari desert.
Monday 24 August, BBC Radio 4, 09.30-09.45 St James Park
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson introduces the sounds of the city on Match Day in Newcastle upon Tyne in the second in a series of immersive soundscapes.
Monday 31 August, BBC Radio 4, 09.30-09.45 The Wash
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson introduces the extraordinary sounds which accompany the movement of the tides on the Wash, in this series of immersive soundscapes.
Monday 7 September, BBC Radio 4, 09.30-09.45 Glacial Melt
The extraordinary and powerful sounds of a glacier calving are captured by wildlife sound recordist, Chris Watson in this series of immersive soundscapes.
Monday 14 September, BBC Radio 4, 09.30-09.45 Dawn Chorus
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson introduces the sounds of a dawn chorus recorded near Aldeburgh in Suffolk in the last in this series of immersive soundscapes.
Narrated and recorded by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
Kukemura Ambient Festival | August 2015
8th August 2015
Järva maakond, Estonia
An ambient music festival in a forest somewhere in Estonia. Chris will be doing a long (90min) late night set of a deep ocean piece 'Mare balticum - Narva Wall mix'.
Live at Port Eliot Festival | July/August 2015
July 30th - August 2nd, 2015
St. Germans, Cornwall
Chris Watson will be presenting 'Dusk 'till Dawn' in the Round Room 1000h-1100h Saturday and Sunday. Sunday at 1630h he will be presenting 'Caught By The River Coquet' with John Andrews at the Caught By The River marquee.
Slow Television | BBC 4 Monday 4th May
Sound Recording Weekend with Chris Watson | Sheffield Mayl 2015
Legendary Sheffield sound recordist Chris Watson returns to lead an inspiring weekend of have-a-go sound recording for all abilities, capture the orchestra of the dawn chorus and learn the post production skills needed to polish up your recording under Chris’s expert guidance.
Saturday 23rd May: dawn chorus – (exact location and time to be confirmed) Sun: 12–3pm
Hear & Now | BBC Radio 3 Saturday 4th April 2015
Radio 3's primary contemporary music programme, featuring live performances and studio sessions from the best new groups, and premiering works commissioned by the BBC
Soundstage | BBC Radio 4 March 2015
BBC Radio 4, Mon- Fri, 23-27 March 2015, 13.45-14.00
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson narrates five immersive soundscapes; each of which is a time compression; a spectacular natural event which has been recorded over hours, days, weeks or even months but which is presented here in less than 15minutes.In the first programme, Chris visits the Kalahari Desert to capture the sounds of midnight at the oasis. Newcastle upon Tyne is the location of the second programme where Chris records a city soundscape following the changing character of St James’ Park and the neighbouring Leazes Park on match day. The thunder of wings as tens of thousands of birds are driven from the vast expanse of mud by the encroaching tide on The Wash is in sharp contrast to the quietness of the landscape at low tide which is captured in the third programme. Chris then travels to Antarctica and follows the extraordinary transformation as the Barne glacier calves. The series ends with a dawn chorus recorded in Suffolk, featuring a beautiful solo performance by a nightingale, a duet with a robin and a bewitching finale from a group of curlew as they fly overhead from the coastal marshes.
Narrator & Recordist Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
Martha – an Endling’s Tale | BBC Radio 4 |10th March 2015
Martha – an Endling’s Tale
BBC Radio 4, Tue 10 March 2015, 11.02am (rpt Mon 16 March at 21.02)
When Europeans arrived in America there were some 3-5 billion Passenger Pigeons. The last one, a bird named Martha died in captivity in 1914. A century on, wildlife filmmaker, writer and broadcaster, John Aitchison reflects on what lessons we have learned from the birds’ demise and explores the possibility of bringing the passenger pigeon back from extinction using genomic technology and a living relative, the band-tailed pigeon. It’s a fascinating and sobering journey. As John says when he comes face to face with Martha, “Extinction is a terrible thing”.
Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
Tuning In – Listening Back in Time
Chris Watson & Tim Shaw
Tuning In - Listening Back in Time is a reconstruction of time distant voices and personal accounts of events on Tyneside during the First World War. The work will be presented using period audio technology in a science and technology basement store...
An Evening of Silence | FuseArt, Bradford 28th January 2015
7pm Doors open
730pm Introduction by Mike Harding. Chris discusses his work on the film, Silence,
and plays uncut recordings he made for the movie on location in Berlin
830pm Screening of the film "Silence" (87 min)
10pm Questions and close...
The Diaries of Brett Westwood | BBC Radio 4 12-16 January 2015
The Diaries of Brett Westwood
BBC Radio 4
Mon – Fri, 12-16 January 2015, 13.45-14.00
Naturalist, writer and broadcaster Brett Westwood began a wildlife diary at the age of 15 about his ‘local patch’, an area of some 5 square miles near his home in Stourbridge. Some 40 years later, he’s still making notes and updating his records about the area. In this series, we join Brett as he returns to his local haunt and reflects on a lifetime of changes.
Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson, Producer Sarah Blunt
The Castle: A Portrait in Sound
Wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson's evocative and powerful sound portrait of Dunstanburgh Castle in Northumberland.
Built in the 14th century as a piece of political theatre, the magnificent ruins have been reclaimed by nature. Swallows and rock doves nest in the gatehouse, kittiwakes and fulmars guard the sea walls, seals patrol the beaches and skylarks man the approach. The sounds of the sea, the wind and the waves are ever present.
Creative Award Winner | Resolution Magazine
Winners of the Creative Awards are Ed Harcourt, Robert Edwards, Chris Watson, Michael Narduzzo and ICP Studios, Belgium...
The Spirit Child | BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4, Monday 27 October, 16.02
Paul Evans narrates a ghostly tale inspired by the true story of Alice Glaston who at eleven years old was the youngest person to be hung. She was hung from the gallows tree in Much Wenlock in Shropshire in 1545. When writer Paul Evans who was born here, later returned to live here and discovered the story of Alice Glaston from a passing reference in a local history book, he was both shocked and intrigued. The more he thought about the story, the more he felt a responsibility to tell the story as a way to free Alice's ghost. It is the landscape and its stories which have inspired this poem, and this landscape is powerfully evoked through sound recordings by Chris Watson.
Alice is played by Bettrys Jones. Producer: Sarah Blunt
The Foundlings Hospital Dawn Chorus | 25th September 2014
The Dawn Chorus installation will be live from Thursday 25 September until early January at the Foundling Museum.
Renowned wildlife sound recordist and 2014 Handel Fellow Chris Watson, and young care-leavers from London, recorded the sounds of the dawn chorus on the site of the original Foundling Hospital. Inspired by the genetic link today’s birds have with those that sang here for the eighteenth and nineteenth century foundlings, Watson’s installation links past and present through a poetic meditation on the spirit of place.
This piece was recorded in the green and residential areas that surround the Foundling Museum. Watson and his young team recorded throughout the night, ending the session on Sunday 4 May, International Dawn Chorus Day.
A new age of surround sound | Surrey University 16th October 2014
A new age of surround sound: spatial audio at the frontiers of contemporary art, technology and science
Professor Tony Myatt - Inaugural Lecture with special guest performer, Chris Watson
Prof Tony Myatt presents a lecture, illustrated with spatial audio demonstrations, about the concepts, art and practice of contemporary spatial audio. Tony will discuss loudspeaker technologies, recording, live performances and presentations, in the context of contemporary audio practice and will illustrate his unique methods of perceptually informed sound spatialisation, based on the creation of information-rich sound environments.
Following the lecture, Tony will be joined by one of the world’s leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, Chris Watson, to present a post-lecture, live, multi-spatial surround sound performance.
To close your eyes was to lose yourself in a virtual environment of birds, church bells, foxes, distant road traffic and the ever present aural horizon of the sea. (The Guardian)
Discussing the 'spirit of place' and the art of listening with BBC natural history sound-recordist Chris Watson, and environmental writer and musician Rob St John. Recorded live from Port Eliot Festival 2014 for The Nest Collective Hour on Resonance 104.4 FM
Hrafn: Conversations with Odin
24 - 26 October 2014
Kielder Water & Forest Park, Northumberland
“If men had wings and bore black feathers, few of them would be clever enough to be crows.” The Reverend Henry Ward Beecher
Hrafn: Conversations with Odin is a sound installation that presents the remarkable and seldom-heard phenomenon of ravens gathering to roost.
Set in Kielder Water & Forest Park in Northumberland, the audience will be led at twilight on a short walk into the deepest part of the forest. Along the way their guides share ancient raven lore, the natural history of a talismanic creature, and the beginnings – and the future – of the forest they have entered. Participants settle down in the deepest part of the wood, and as darkness falls, they will hear the sounds of two thousand birds arriving in the canopy overhead to begin their conversations.
Hrafn: Conversations with Odin is composed by Chris Watson and produced by Iain Pate. It is commissioned through Jerwood Open Forest, a partnership between Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Forestry Commission England.
For full details and tickets, please visit www.jerwoodopenforest.org
Stepping into the Dark | Available as Download
Stepping into the Dark [TO:27D] is now available as high quality audio download. Originally released on compact disc in 1996, Chris's first album for Touch, the tracks are the atmospheres of "special places", recorded with the use of camouflaged microphones.
Many of the tracks will be used for the forthcoming iOS app, Nimbus, to be launched on September 10th in Brighton.
BBC Radio 4 | September 2014
PENGUIN POST OFFICE
BBC Radio 4 Mon – Fri, 1-5 September 2014, 14.45-15.00
In October 2013, wildlife cameraman and director Andrew Graham-Brown and assistant producer Ruth Peacey set sail for Antarctica to film the lives of a colony of Gentoo penguins for a BBC Natural World film. Every year Gentoo penguins return to Port Lockroy on the tiny Antarctic island of Goudier to find a mate and raise their young in the shadow of the world’s most southerly public Post Office. This is what the team hoped to film, but it proves to be one of the most challenging filming trips they have ever undertaken.
Presenter: wildlife cameraman Doug Allan
Additional wildlife sound recordings: Chris Watson
Producer: Sarah Blunt
GOSSIP FROM THE GARDEN POND
BBC Radio 4, Sundays 7, 14 & 21 September 2014, 19.15-19.45
Nestled between the clipped hedges and the neatly mown lawn, the garden pond might seem a tranquil even rather dull place, but nothing could be further from the truth as revealed in this very funny series of tales from a highly sexed Dragonfly, a hotly pursued Water Boatman, a ferocious Diving Beetle, a Tadpole who doesn’t want to grow up, a timid Spider and a self-righteous Snail as the residents of the pond reveal the truth about life between the ripples.
Written and introduced by Lynne Truss.
Wildlife sound recordings by Chris Watson
Produced by Sarah Blunt