‘Soundtracking’

“They call it a wild track. Wild, because you’re capturing sound from the wild, I guess. Bit like a bird in a cage. No, a butterfly. Right in your hands.

The strangest thing, if you don’t know much about sound recording, is that a wild track’s the sound of nothing. Yeah, nothing. Silence. But when you listen hard enough, nothing’s never nothing.

A train station with white tiled walls. The sheltered side of a grassy hilltop. A narrow side street where two people can barely pass. The inside of an aircraft before the engines start. In all these places and a thousand more, I hit record, and for five minutes, all I do is listen.

In every place, there are voices fluttering; not just human voices but birds, mammals, insects… Sometimes, they echo, and the echo has a voice of its own. Miles away, a lorry struggles up a hill. And then there’s the breathy white noise the wind makes. Footsteps. Bird wings. By the end I can even hear the darknesses that shadows cast. The music of the night rising. A fluorescent light going out. All that in the silence. Right here, in my hand.

Back in the studio, I click the memory card into my laptop and hit import. My library used to be made up of cassettes, on all these shelves up here. Nothing there any more. They’re in the cloud, wherever that is. Now that’s somewhere I’d love to record.”