Other spaces: rain river rain (2016)

This has been one of those albums that I’ve sort of snubbed a bit since recording it, but on revisiting I can appreciate it better – both its sonic flow and its significant position in the evolution of my recording process. 

In 2016 I was reaching the end of a ten-year obsession with playing solo fingerstyle ukulele.  I’d dabbled in home recording during that time but had only just been introduced to the Reaper recording software, which kicked open a whole new learning curve in my approach.  Also around this time I’d contributed some percussion and other sound samples to the projects of my then-neighbour and friend, Ross Douglas (searec.bandcamp.com).  Ross had a very fluid approach to organising sound, that is, he was especially interested in finding unusual textures (eg playing saucepan lid with a bow, or rubbing the palm across a djembe skin), which he would then sculpt with various FX until often they were unrecognisable from their original source.  I found his approach liberating and inspiring, and it really helped me loosen up musically.  Having played solo for so long, my approach had been very structured and meticulous.

The rain river rain recording was really my first open-ended experiment in recording a spontaneously-shaped soundscape, and I only realise now in retrospect what an important turning point it was for my process, and for the style of sonic atmospherics I would favour so much in the years since.  Over the course of that one rainy day at home, I roamed around the house finding sounds and layering them as I improvised, drawing on my various instruments as well as household objects.  Naturally it was a lot of fun.  The result was a half-hour musical journey comprising five sections that flowed into each other but were distinct.  My first edit, which I released that year, tried to keep the ‘found’ sounds true to their original acoustic form, but something niggled.

A couple of years later, in 2018, I completely remixed the album, and this time I allowed myself to throw as many FX at the sounds as I felt to.  The result was much richer, much more atmospheric and spacious, and I think much more evocative. 

Then last week (another couple of years later), I had an urge to poke my head in the door again and see how it was going.  I compulsively added some minor tweaks to the edit, then on an impulse I reversed the entire 26 minutes.  I thought it sounded really nice, so I added it to the release as a second track, niar revir niar  – itself reflected, appropriate since where I lived then overlooked the wide mouth of the Huon River (the view pictured on the cover). And with that simple addition I feel the album has finally settled into itself.