Caught by the River

These Feral Lands: A Year Documented in Sound & Art – JULY SOUNDS

Laura Cannell | 30th July 2021

Inspired by a brief encounter with a grass snake, this month’s EP from Laura Cannell and Kate Ellis conjures fleeting moments.

On one of the ludicrously hot days in July I sat on my canopied swing seat under the tree: double protection from the hot and burning sun. There was rustling from the area where the hedgehog normally appears in the early evenings, and I thought, ‘it’s very early for them to be out’. The rustling continued, interspersed with the Little Owls’ see-sawing calls overhead. I turned a few more times, but there was nothing to see. The rustling was getting louder and closer and this time I turned to see the largest snake I’ve ever seen; a full metre or so of grass snake (or Natrix helvetica). Maybe the crumhorn lured it out in true snake-charmer style. It was such an intense moment, so fleeting yet so impactful. We were aliens to each other, eye to eye. It was the kind of happening that makes you doubt your own mind. Did I see it? I turned away and it was instantly gone.

Fleeting moments are conjured in this month’s music. It is definitely a musical diary of sorts, and to me it feels more unhinged this month. Humans are so complicated and emotional; just when you think you are on top of things, absurd, unforeseen or utterly foreseen events happen in our families and in the world. Kate and I decided to work on the music simultaneously this month. To almost feel like we were in the same studio, a coming together that we both needed. A narrative of time, distance and space emerged as we set up our individual home studios and began to explore the physical space between them in real-time. 

“We talk often and ponder the many parts of our lives not connected to music. Before creating we don’t discuss the music, not knowing which instruments are at hand and what thoughts each other have. This month Laura added sprinklings of Bass Recorder and Crumhorn (a double reeded renaissance instrument) to the sound and I added the reeded Chinese Hulusi (a gourd flute) and her ancient Tenor Recorder. Always exploring new ways of working together, we recorded simultaneously knowing that the other was there at the end of the line.”  Kate Ellis

Short fragments of music, perhaps from ten to thirty seconds long, were created and immediately sent flying across the ether, asking for a sonic response, until a collection of new pieces began to emerge. ‘Within Reach’, ‘Nine Hours’, ‘Four Days’ and ‘425 Miles’ mark the distances between us when we made the music. It’s a nine-hour drive, a four-day walk or a four-hundred-and-twenty-five-mile trip. While all the time feeling a connection between the East of England and the East of Ireland, it is easy to forget that our distance is real. Spurred on by this distance and the need to meet and play together, we are planning to take over a remote village church and to fill the cavernous space with our sounds. Hopefully next month will be the next time we meet.

Sleeve notes for this month’s EP…

Intensely listening and feeling the air around us. 

A connection with past times emerging with ancient instruments at hand. 

Between two points on a map. Nine hours driving through villages and towns, the momentum of clouds passing, counting lines on the road and the yellow hue of street lamps flickering on and off as dawn approaches. 

Between two points on a map. Four days walking, slowing our thoughts. Absorbing the lush summer green landscape with dappled light from the leaves colouring our dreams of loved ones and the dreams we are about to make happen.

4. 425 MILES 
Between two points on a map. 425 linear miles. Overlapping sounds emerging like abstract pencil drawings on paper that is folded over and passed around, only to discover the beautiful creature that has been created when the paper is fully opened. 

This month we brought in some new instruments. Laura is playing Violin, Bass Recorder & Crumhorn and Kate is playing Cello, Chinese Hulusi and Tenor Recorder. 

Find the EP here.


Our artist this month is Rory Tangney, who has created visuals for the track ‘425 Miles’.


These Feral Lands – A Year Documented in Sound and Art is supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.