Stuart Chalmers will deliver his 14th release of 2018 this Friday. Sound Environments 2: Woodlands picks up where its predecessor Caves left off.
“Recorded around the woodlands and forests of Yorkshire and Cumbria, this release is inspired by the myths, folklore, rituals and works of art created within these natural wonders,” he explained in an email.
Indeed, the album has a largely acoustic, percussive feel. We hear swarmandal (sometimes referred to as an Indian harp), drums, slate xylophone, oak woodsticks, bones, pine cones, seed rattles, beech nuts, metal fence, bamboo, stone percussion, water pipe, discarded junk piano and field recordings that bring the woodlands to life.
Many of those field recordings – of water splashes, branches and even wildlife – echo Chalmers’ performances on the conventional instruments. They are distinguishable of course. But they fit together so neatly that we’re presented a recording that is both made of, and made in, the woodlands.
“This music attempts to connect with the tales of mystery and enchantment, with our ancestors’ veneration of nature as well as with the landscape itself by giving voice to the physical materials found here.
“My hope was to experience the woods with fresh ears/eyes, using sound as a way to communicate this,” he writes.
Sound Environments 1: Caves featured a similarly respectful nod to past generations. Recorded deep below the Yorkshire Dales, Chalmers says he was inspired by cave art and recordings produced around the world.
His reverence for the environments he’s chosen comes through clearly in the work. Both albums are imbued with a sense of wonder and respect. By overlaying that with his very personal expressions of these locations, Chalmers is producing music that is both private and universal.
Half of the sales generated by Sound Environments 2: Woodlands will be donated to the Woodland Trust.