Christophe Charles

Entry #1

01.03.2012

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Yellow Mountain

During a stay in February 2012 in Bogong, I have recorded all kinds of environmental sounds in, and around Bogong Village, using two AKG microphones and two hydrophones. The recordings mainly consisted in:

1- placing microphones outside the bungalow where we were staying, for several hours during morning, day, evening and night, and recording sounds of birds, insects, wind and rain,

2- taking the microphones during walks around Lake Guy to record animal life and water streams,

3- recording sound experiments and performances in different resonant spaces inside the dam of the lake,

4- recording human activities in Bogong Village (people cutting trees and lawn, driving cars and motorcycles, talking and singing, etc),

5- recording the hums of the Clover Dam Power Plant heard in the air and in the ground,

6- placing hydrophones in the waters of Lake Guy and its surrounding cascades and streams, the Rocky Valley Dam, as well as the rivers nearby the Clover Dam power plant to record underwater activities,

7- placing hydrophones against metal and wood material to record the effects of rain and wind on those materials, near the bungalow and on the Mount McKay.

“Yellow Mountain”, specially designed to be heard on a canoe on Lake Guy, uses mainly the recording described in (1), (5) and (6). It begins with a mix of recordings of the Lake Guy surroundings, with aggressive birds calls, together with hums of the Clover Dam Power Plant. Sounds of insects gradually appear, then we plunge into the waters of Lake Guy and hear the underwater activities of streams and air bubbles, before suddenly returning to above-water level, with calm bird calls.

The title “Yellow Mountain” has been borrowed from Henning Christiansen’s opus 171, “Il Giardino della Montagna Gialla”, which uses sounds of glass bells and tuba. The glass bells, which are heard at the very beginning of “Yellow Mountain”, suggest voices of invisible creatures, such as the supernatural guardians of the forest of Princess Mononoke or the Elfking’s Daughters. The tuba sounds of the original piece have been replaced with the hums of the Clover Dam Power Plant, which feature similar ultra-low frequencies. The sounds of air bubbles heard inside Lake Guy remind of the sounds of glass bells, and the end of the piece thus intends to put in relation the under- and above-water spaces, through different short sound events, sustained by the continuous hums of the electricity power plant which also suggest the deep and latent presence of a non-human, non-animal presence.

“Yello Mountain” is conceived to be heard together with the realtime sounds of Lake Guy and Bogong Village, and intends to reveal simultaneously multiple sonic layers. Some of them are hidden, or too far away to be heard by the human ear, but they are nevertheless present and sustaining the Bogong soundscape.