Saturday, 25 August 2012
The Ghosts Of Bush
Discovered this via the great Belbury Parish Magazine, the home of Ghost Box Records.
I've only just started listening to it so I can't verify how good it is. However, the idea is fascinating enough that you need to give it a listen regardless.
Ghosts Of Bush’ was created entirely using the natural acoustic sounds of Bush House, the iconic home for the past seven decades of the BBC World Service which will shortly be closing its doors for the last time. All of the sounds were captured in the small hours of the morning in empty offices, corridors, stairwells and other hidden corners by a Studio Manager working overnight. These recordings were then dubbed onto quarter-inch tape in the basement studio deep in the bowels of the South-East wing using two of the surviving reel-to-reel machines.
Adjusting the playback speed of the spools and ‘bouncing’ the recordings between the two tape machines lead to the discovery of a number of interesting phrases and sound textures which were then looped, layered and fashioned into rough compositions. Over time the tape would start to degrade and alter the nature of the sounds, while occasional echo was created by recording and playing various loops simultaneously, feeding the sound back into itself. The entire album was produced using these simple methods, and no other effects or studio trickery have been used. Thanks to the sonorous quality of Bush House’s Portland stone walls and high ceilings, the natural resonance of the space was all that was needed.
When talking of historic buildings it’s become something of a cliché to say ‘If these walls could speak…’ I like to think that on ‘Ghosts Of Bush’ we come close to hearing them sing!
I hope that this album not only captures the size and the grandeur of this now largely empty building, but also a sense of its history too. As well as being produced in a rapidly disintegrating studio using equipment that was decommissioned years ago, buried deep within the mix are call-signs or ‘idents’ from a number of the BBC’s Language services, many of which have also closed down in recent years. By working in this way I wanted to create a sense of poignancy in the gradual winding-down of Bush House’s facilities, the emptying of its spaces and the departure of its people, as well as commenting on the passing of time and the impermanence of all things.
This very personal project was created partly to mark the dying days of a bygone era, as a last hurrah for obsolete equipment and a studio that will soon fall silent forever. It’s the sound of many sleepless nights spent isolated in a labyrinthine basement surrounding by a crepuscular soundtrack of creaks and crackles. It’s an attempted homage to the work of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop who crafted the most incredible of sound-worlds from the most basic of sources. But mostly it’s my way of saying goodbye to a building that I and so many people have loved. A former hive of industry that now stands almost deserted. I really hope that on this album the listener gets a sense of all these things.