Saturday, 1 September 2012

Saturday, 26 November 2011

W VON: 'The Great Ocean'

'The Great Ocean'

From the age of fifteen or so, when I began having recurring dreams of shark attacks, I have feared the sea. It became a symbol of finality, it housed beneath it a lurking evil, gargantuan monsters and ultimately death. It's black abyss-like character and it's, what appears to be, disregard for human life, became something I feared, but ultimately respected.
A few months after finishing my Sonic Art degree I went travelling to India. Whilst there I took in mountainous peaks, snow-laden, our jeep careering to-and-fro around it's death-defying bends. Despite a crippling fear of heights mountains have always remained a calming force. Maybe due to the fact my feet stay firmly on the ground has a lot to do with it. But, also any mishaps or accidents are generally down to the person scaling it's face. I mean, you never hear of a mountain biting you or jumping from it's age old position to ambush you. The ocean, which although not moving per se, it does send a strong message...BEWARE mutha' fucka'. Beware!!!
Whilst presenting no 'real' threat, storms aside, it's inhabitants are a trifle aggressive, like waltzing into a well dodgy high-rise estate, sporting head-to-toe 'to-die-for' clobber emblazoned with racist slogans. How one might be greeted in that environment is akin to how the ocean's dwellers might react to a bobbing Irish man, dipping his toes into their bathwater. Only main difference, although unlikely, one might be able to apply dialogue to help aid his escape to safety. The ocean knows no language, at least were human vernacular is concerned.
During my travels I spent a lot of time by the sea, staring...nothing really new there. What was changing inside of me was the overwhelming urge to run and jump in. 'I respect her, she knows that...what's the worst that can happen?', my train of thought, with great noise, barraged my brain despite my efforts to remain shore-side.
So there it was...13 years of distrust laid out in one small flicker of time!
Having made many recordings during my time in India, the ones that really struck a chord were the ones of the sea. There was immense power in some of them. In Agonda, for instance, during a full-moon the ocean was crashing on the sand like the hand of Zeus, disgruntled at mankind's wicked ways, smashing at civilisation with thunderous ferocity. I felt humbled by the sheer size of it.
I felt like a baby bird flung from it's nest into a world lacking familiarity, alien in landscape and topography, rife with possibility might feel. That very fact leaving you with a gut-wrenching fear of the unknown.
These are the very things I tried to include in 'The Great Ocean'. The wonder, feeling subservient at the feet of it's vastness, the flight of spray upon the air, the fear, the finality of death, the sinking into bottomless greens and blacks. The awe at it's dance.
Contrary to my efforts I still find myself at the mercy of the ocean's power. Nothing on Earth scares me more than seeing something engulfed in water, slowly becoming overpowered by it's strength and then sinking...what an end that must be for anyone/anything!
The album, I hope, allows these very stark and striking images to come to the surface. To breathe and pulse in perpetual flux before becoming overcome and fading into the black, lifeless and absent, having tried with all of its might to stay afloat.

Listen to:  An English Mail-Boat

Released 21st of November through Polski label Few Quiet People.
Artwork by Alex James Chilvers.
available here:
The album was made using electric & acoustic guitar, accordion, mandolin, autoharp, my voice, various 'small sounds' and violin.
*A synth part was used in 'First Rocks' and 'The Great Ocean'.