Caught by the River

From Dusk Till Dawn

17th July 2022

Iain Chambers of Persistence of Sound recently wrote to us with news of the label’s plans to release From Dusk Till Dawn, a posthumous album of field recordings by The London Sound Survey, aka Ian Rawes. The label describes the project thus:

‘From Dusk Till Dawn’ is a sound-journey through the dark in East Anglia, UK. It roams across the counties of Norfolk and Suffolk to places whose sounds have a precarious existence outside the crowded realities of modern everyday life. 

Before his death in 2021, Ian Rawes had been making recordings across East Anglia, notably at Lakenheath Fen, an RSPB reserve on the Norfolk/Suffolk border. 

Like many of Ian’s projects, there was a tight logic to this collection. They chart the journey of natural sounds from dusk until dawn. The extraordinary sound of massed birdsong, the wind thrumming against an abandoned pumping station, the sound of common seals. 

“A bittern called from time to time, sounding like someone blowing over the wide top of an old milk bottle. A distant machine tone came from somewhere to the south-east: perhaps from an agribusiness factory. It continued into the small hours. 

“At around half past four in the morning I struggled out of my sleeping bag and began to walk east, carrying my bulky wooden mic baffle on its tripod. A small wood drew close and there was a brief pinpoint of light among the tree trunks. I stopped then moved on: the light was obscured. Birds hadn’t stopped calling all night but now the intensity and variety of cries and songs was growing. 

“I set the tripod down on a path running between the wood to the north and the reed-beds of New Fen to the south. The pre-amp and recorder were switched on. I listened briefly through headphones and swivelled the baffle this way and that before noticing how the flights of ducks and geese seemed to go from east to west. I set the baffle and its pair of mics to face south, then went to sit on a tree stump about forty yards away. For a short while everything felt unfamiliar while the dawn chorus took over my thoughts, as though suddenly immersed in a remote past.” 

This collection is a tribute to Ian’s matchless ability to capture completely immersive, distinct environments. His recordings are valuable markers of change. They have the power to take you out of everyday life, to slow the heart-rate, and to really listen. 

Listen to track ‘Buckenham Rooks’ below. Released on 16th September, From Dusk Till Dawn is available to pre-order here via Bandcamp.

In celebration of Ian’s life and work and the release of From Dusk Till Dawn, Persistence of Sound are holding an event at IKLECTIK, SE1, on Sunday 11th September, featuring performances and talks from musicians, writers and friends who knew Ian and his work. Advance tickets are £8.50, with all proceeds going to The Brain Tumour Charity. More information and tickets available here.