This blog acquired its name from a loose-knit series of texts and musical recordings that engaged with a particular landscape – that of Anglezarke, on the West Pennine Moors of northern England. It has since gone on to document work produced about other places, notably Cumbria and the west coast of Ireland.
The first ‘Landings’ recording was published in 2006, and attributed to Carousell. Between 2006 and 2009 excerpts from my various notebooks were published online, here and elsewhere, alongside free, downloadable mp3s of music recorded at different sites on the moors. In 2009 a limited edition pamphlet and second album were published under my own name, and a 96-page book followed shortly thereafter. In 2011 the book was substantially revised and expanded to some 292 pages, and republished along with another musical offering, ‘Rapture (Reprise)’.
Despite the equal footing given to both music and text, many people may only be aware of ‘Landings’ as a musical work. Anyone who has a passing acquaintance with this blog will know that, if anything, texts have become a more prominent strand of my work. Part of the reason for this has been a growing ambivalence about the value of making musical recordings en plein air – a feeling that such gestures, which initially seemed intimate and worthwhile, became increasingly meaningless when repeated and publicly dissected. Moreover, I have felt a growing sensation that such actions are lacking in grace, tact and consideration. They seem less about a conversation with the landscape, and more about a conversation with the self – a game of catching echoes.
The texts that accompany the ‘Landings’ recordings chart this trajectory both acutely and obliquely. The poem ‘Bond’, for instance, alludes to the irrevocable connection made between an instrument and a landscape through the process of interment and disinterment. Burying instruments in the soil and later exhuming them became a way of taking the landscape with me, allowing me to make recordings in the landscape whilst being physically absent. Similarly, ‘Pariah’ describes objects found on the moor as ‘matter for the construction of song’. In the notes accompanying the text I wrote ‘these small items, and many more like them, collected from various locations across Anglezarke Moor, being of the landscape, are the landscape. They disperse the moor, extending its borders, conjuring it through touch and through memory. They collude in the sound-making process simply by virtue of their presence – their significance – but they can also become plectra, or sonic objects themselves.’
The following extracts from the current 294-page edition of ‘Landings’ hopefully give a sense of these issues playing out, whilst also reflecting on others, not least – the history, topography and voices of the landscape itself.
Click here to download excerpts from the book (PDF, 48 pages).
The book can be bought, with or without the music, here.