Chris Watson Watch: “We Live on Planet Ocean” / Forest Fables

3 January 2016 // Chris Watson Watch //Field Recording

The performance of a new Chris Watson piece, premiered in London just before Christmas, brought a transcendent end to a fantastic year for all of us at Caught by the River.

The experience of hearing Okeanos for the first time intensified as, following a short explanatory introduction from Chris, the lights dimmed to darkness and for the next hour immersed us (and the other folk present at this sell-out event) in the sounds of the seas.

Whilst on the way home, coming up for air, my brain in knots as it tried to readjust, I received this text from longtime Caught by the River reader Andy Pattenden, who had also been at the event:

“…The journey home on the Hammersmith and City line feels something of a comedown after such an experience, which is hard to convey in mere words.

The piece is rightly described as a symphony, containing as it does complex layers of sound and repeated themes. But it also seemed so much more and less than this at the same time, providing access to an atavistic aquatic experience through the exemplary use of natural sound. It is said that there is nothing new under the sun, but I’ve never had the privilege of hearing anything like that before.

I hope that in the future it is seen as a tribute rather than a memorial to the unfathomable oceans that surround us”.

Exactly. Hopefully Chris will be performing Okeanos again sometime soon. When he does we’ll make sure you know about it.

P1010856Photo: Pascal Wyse

Also present on the night was the sound artist and good mate of Chris’s Pascal Wyse who told me about a very interesting project that he’d just completed for The Guardian on behalf of The Woodland Trust: “After many days and weeks in front of screens, it was great to get out and about with Chris Watson to record and produce a series of short stories inspired by woodlands and forests – a project funded by The Woodland Trust for The Guardian. The four authors who wrote stories were Alan Garner, Ali Smith, Alec Finlay and Evie Wyld. We recorded them in the locations that inspired their stories, then went away to soundtrack them, dipping in to Chris’s rather extraordinary archive”. The stories can be heard here.

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