From The Understory / Alice Boyd’s immersive debut EP

Alice Boyd. Photo by Kanahaya Alam

MUSIC From The Understory / Alice Boyd’s immersive debut EP The acclaimed sound artist talks theatre, field recording, and ecological metaphysics. Alice Boyd, who released her debut EP, ‘From The Understory,’ this month. Photo by Kanahaya Alam. review + interview by Jay Richardson24th April 2023 ★★★★☆ When I met Alice Boyd in a South London […]

Heinali’s ‘Kyiv Eternal’ / Billowing timbres meet glittering field recordings

FIELD RECORDING Heinali’s ‘Kyiv Eternal’ / Billowing timbres meet glittering field recordings by Jay Richardson17 March 2023 Two weeks ago, the Ukranian artist Heinali released the album Kyiv Eternal, built on fragments of his own archival field recordings from Kyiv. He called the tracks “personal, intimate, and fleeting,” and “a farewell to this place in […]

Sounds of the Bog and the Apocalypse

A bog’s curious, ordinary, delicately explosive sounds belong in our narratives of climate crisis just as much as landscapes of epic disaster.

Cassant et sec: Londres dans la vague de chaleur

Dry grass on Weavers Fields during the July 2022 heat wave.

CLIMAT Cassant et sec: Londres dans la vague de chaleur La pelouse spacieuse d’un parc est-londonien, atteignant 37 degrés Celsius, se transforme en vide aride. L’herbe sèche sur Weavers Fields pendant la vague de chaleur de juillet 2022. par Jay Richardsonlundi 18 juillet 2022 Le bruissement sec des feuilles mortes se fait entendre partout. Elles […]

Floodlines: Rain sounds recomposed

Collage of a window with the sea behind it

Floodlines: Rain sounds recomposed Rain makes some of the world’s best-loved sounds. They’re even better coming from a giant plywood recorder. Jay Richardson and Olivia Petryszak21 July 2022 Throughout southern England, the second Monday of July last year started with rain. The rain turned into a downpour and the downpour turned into a flood. By […]

Brittle and dry: London in the heat wave

Dry grass on Weavers Fields during the July 2022 heat wave.

CLIMATE Brittle and dry: London in the heat wave At 37 degrees, the airy lawns of an East London park have dried into arid emptiness amidst a potentially lethal heat wave. Parched grass at Weavers Fields, East London, on 17 July 2022. by Jay Richardson18 July 2022 Everywhere is the dry rustle of dead leaves. […]

A field guide to open secrets

Reeds waving in the breeze

FIELD RECORDING A field guide to open secrets Getting to know a place takes time, even with methods like a randomised sound survey. It also takes the courage to throw away your map. by Jay Richardson 13th June 2022 “Welcome to Google Maps,” a voice proudly proclaims. “Here you can search for places, businesses, directions, […]

A robin’s song to hurt your ears

robin song

A robin’s song to hurt your ears A tiny robin’s song in the dawn chorus approaches frequencies at the limits of human hearing. A spectrograph of a robin’s song. Jay Richardson27 May 2022 On a list of very loud sounds, birdsong would probably land very near the bottom. Of course, anything could hurt your ears […]

Silence and chaos and birds in between

dawn chorus

Silence and chaos and birds in between Diagram of a wren’s song in the dawn chorus. Jay Richardson1 May 2022 A dawn chorus contains so much joyful chaos: that’s what makes it a chorus. For pure density of sound, most green spaces at dawn in springtime could give Piccadilly Circus a run for its money. […]

Tall tree, loud robin

Sonograph of a London robin

Tall tree, loud robin Jay Richardson29 April 2022 Recording birdsong demands endless patience. Even if you find an environment where birds are likely to be, at the right time of year, at the right time of day, the bird itself might be too far away to hear, or obscured by some other sound. That’s if […]

Rain turns the world into a drum

Rain falls on a bridge in the evening in London.

FIELD RECORDING Rain turns the world into a drum Not even laser imaging can tell you as much about your material surroundings as rain can. Photo by Lu Liu Jay Richardson10 April 2022 Most of the time, when you’re listening to something, it’s making sound by itself—a car engine, say, or a blender, or a […]

Remembering a crisis in sound

Lights streak by on a main road in east London.

FIELD RECORDING Remembering a crisis in sound Street recordings from the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown tell a tale of quietness, crisis, and the presence of absence. by Jay Richardson3rd April 2022 If you’ve seen a Hollywood disaster movie or two, you may have a sense of how they usually sound: loud. Some, like Earthquake (1974), […]

Traffic isn’t noise

Flowers spew out the exhaust pipe of a car

OPINION Traffic isn’t noise The way we conceive of traffic sounds reveals what we think of as worth hearing. by Jay Richardson 23 March 2022 Imagine you’re at an exhibition. There’s an installation on something like the Rochdale Co-op or trapezoids in postmodernist watercolours—it’s that kind of gallery. You step into a darkened room and […]

London floods: On microphones and water

Water shoots from the tops of fossil fuel power station pipes in an allegory for the causes and effects of the 2021 London floods.

On microphones and water As rain spills into destruction during the summer 2021 London floods, the violence and disruption of the climate crisis is getting louder. Jay Richardson27 January 2022 Rain sounds good. Just as the crackling of a log fire—another staple of the sleep-sounds industrial complex—subconsciously reminds you of warmth, rain sounds speak of […]

The unique and mysterious life of a London city park

The unique and mysterious life of a London park It doesn’t look like a wild ecosystem, but point your ears at Weavers Fields and you might be surprised. Jay Richardson30 December 2021 The year is 1965. You’re walking on an open green where, only ten years ago, the houses that had survived London’s wartime bombing […]

The curious sound of the void

The curious sound of the void There’s a river in central London, but not the kind of watery soundscape you might have expected. Jay Richardson15 December 2021 On an ordinary Tuesday, I awoke at 6:15am (to my dog’s great surprise). I had a plan: to go down to the River Thames at Millennium Bridge and […]