The Wind in Strange Company Sings was commissioned by Forma/Ben Ponton for an event titled 'The Sound of a Dying Planet' and received its' premiere at Toynbee Hall, London, June 2017. Presented here is the first part of the studio version - without live accompaniment.
'Like many of Lee Pattersons' sound recordings, the effects of global warming are not restricted to exotic locations such as polar ice caps or remote Eurasian tundra. Alarmingly, such effects seem to be increasingly quotidian and may be experienced much closer to home.
Whilst aware that climatic change is gauged by longer term measurements, for The wind in strange company sings, Patterson takes as a starting point some of his field observations from the previous fifteen or so years - that weather conditions seem increasingly windy, perhaps as warming creates an increasingly energetic, more chaotic atmosphere of complex convection and steeper pressure gradients resulting in faster, moving air. This presents unique challenges for the location or field recordist - especially one with modest budgets, limited time and equipment.
The wind itself is almost always silent, air upon air makes no sound to human ears.
Many of the sounds associated with the wind are in fact produced as the moving air interacts with other objects or bodies. These bodies act as transducers - transforming the kinetic energy of shifting air into acoustic energy or vibrating matter and, in this sense, are akin to musical instruments - they sonify the unheard, giving us clues as to their own nature and the condition of the wind itself. Patterson is fascinated by these physical processes of energy transferal, considering many things to be instruments in situ.
Featuring, for the most part unprocessed sounds, the piece opens with a wind ruined recording from Barra, including Pattersons' resultant frustration, it goes on to explore musically the wind and its' various sound generating interactions with other bodies, ranging from wind turbines on one the UK's oldest onshore wind farms, Coalclough, to one of its largest, Scout Moor, both in the Lancashire Pennines; aeolian long string recordings on the Cycladic island of Tinos and from an installation in the Swiss Jura to wind blown wire fences on Gallows Hill, Bury; from the ancient blanket bogs of the North Pennines, recordings of the wind-driven, micro movements of exposed heather roots and cotton grass blade tips upon contact microphones atop weathered peat hags and wind fluting across peat depth gauges; to a multi-storey car park at Salford Quays now Media City that no longer sings in the western wind.
The wind as sonified by grass features throughout, whether upland grasses amongst which the microphone is placed or contact-miked grass stems in a Calderdale pasture, nibbled by sheep to give each it's own resonant frequency - countless millions of wind instruments in one valley alone.
This work is one of several to be dedicated to the memory of Mika Vainio (1963 - 2017).
With thanks to Ben Ponton, Philippa Barr, Helmut Lemke, Laura Harrington, Coti Kiriakos and Nikos Veliotis.'