By the Waters of Babble-On

We’ve had a sufficiency of water for a while (ahem.), but this is a great way to finish the trend: with the results of a challenge!

This challenge is another field recording one, where artists were to take any combination of these samples and make music with them using only these sounds as the basis. As with the the other field recording challenges, the constraint was only use these sounds, and no additional instruments or synthesizers, but those sounds could be altered and processed in any way the artist could imagine.

With sounds such as water flowing, the results did sound similar on the surface. But if you dive into these waters, you’ll hear some remarkable differences — largely due to what the sounds suggested to each artist. So listen carefully, and enjoy the meditations.

Following the challenge tracks, we’ll sample various music from the RadioSpiral library that uses water as its basis, either thematically or substantively, or both.

Challenge Tracks: By the Waters of Babble-On

“Still Waters Run Deep” – Carbonates on Mars

“Howlers” – Museleon

I like a challenge but this has been one of the hardest challenges to date.

I mostly create sound pictures based on one field recording as the only sound source and this often results in some surprising changes to the sound but often throws up many technical difficulties too.

For this challenge – Water of Life, I listened very carefully to the field recording as usual ( and began by experimenting with sections of the sound file, using the minimal lo-fi, low tech processes. What emerged was what I imagined to be Howler monkeys or a group of monkeys, in a tree top. Since much of the sound file was deeply embedded with many layered sounds, it was difficult to separate them fully and so Howlers became a sound picture of a noisy tropical rainforest with a loud insect backdrop, strange jungle noises, rain falling on a tin roof and into metal pots and pans, an irritating mosquito, a jaguar roaring and a small group of monkeys singing to each other at dusk.  

I have been experimenting more with sound and I use a range of field recordings, found sounds and hardware with minimal processing as I’ve always been interested in how sound can morph into beautiful complex patterns. It’s the ‘small sounds’, anomalies, mistakes and the sounds ‘between’ that catch my ear. Many of the pieces I create are based on images and things I see, which act as a type of graphic score and are best listened to via headphones. I also create artwork to accompany the tracks.

Odette Johnson

“In the Moat of the Mountain King” – Glenn Sogge

“Sunday Afternoon Waves” – At Water’s Edge

Library Tracks

“Ocean Beautiful, Ocean Blue” – Conni St. Pierre – Beneath The Waves: Legends of Lost Cities (1998)

“Little Waves” – The Lovely Moon – Moonlight Drift (2013)

“Rolling Waves” – Jack Hertz – (unreleased) (2014)

“Ocean waves at nighttime” – Bing Satellites – Little house by the ocean (2017)

“Crystal Reef” (bonus track) – Antara Annemarie Borg – In nomine cetus (2014)

“Tidal Memory” – Max Corbacho – The Ocean Inside (2012)

“Reef” – Pamplemousse – e(scapes) (2001)

“Capillary Waves” – Tony Gerber – Flute Songs for Water (2007)

“This River” – Janne Hanhisuanto – Water Stories (2010)

“Floating Deep” – Robert Carty – Oceanic Space (2005)

“Tiger River” – Thom Brennan – Mountains (1987)

“After A Rain” – EugeneKha – River Songs (Echoes Sounds Edited 2013) (2010)

“The Seventh Wave” – Charles Denler – One Drop Became an Ocean (2017)

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