Sounds at Llanina

6.30pm on Tuesday 13th August I’ll be playing some sounds in Llanina church with the lovely Deuair – Elsa Davies and Ceri Owen Jones.  I made this short video with them a few years back.

The video was filmed in Elsa’s grandparents old house just outside New Quay.  When I described the place to my mum she told me that she knew the place and had been there when her and my dad were moving to our house in Gilfachreda, that they had arranged a private mortgage with the seller and had to visit their home in Pentregarth to sort it out.  That would have been Elsa’s grandparents and the house we moved to was called Dolau.

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Dolau

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Dolau – That’s me in the cage on the right about to grab a chicken

Llanina church and woods is just not far from the village of Gilfachreda.

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Llanina stream and woods

When I was young we used to go and collect conkers from the woods there, home to some of the best horse chestnut trees in the area.  It was a favourite place to walk as it has all you could want on a walk – woodland, ruins, a stream, a mansion, a churchyard and a beach!

 


By Llywelyn2000 – Gwaith yr uwchlwythwr, CC BY-SA 4.0

In 2012 I was invited to make some work for an exhibition in Aberystwyth on a theme of climate change.  Thinking on my family and our journeys and impact on my local environment I decided to make a series of recordings between New Quay and Aberystwyth and included Llanina as a connecting point to my dad whose ashes were scattered at Llanina.

For pretty much all of my childhood my dad would travel daily to work in Aberystwyth, sometimes driving, sometimes car sharing with work colleagues, for financial not environmental reasons.  I too, for all my years of secondary school regularly traveled by bus up the coast to Aberaeron.  So for the exhibition I combined field recordings made in New Quay, Llanina, Aberaeron and Aberystwyth with vinyl records related to music from Aberystwyth and sounds of the Welsh countryside.  I also included the voices of the other artists exhibiting and fragments of some of their work.  Below is the recorded work and the writing from the exhibition.

Reflex – 43m 48s loop, (with 3 turntables)

The work is composed from various recordings made by myself and the other artists involved in the ‘predicting a climate archive’ exhibition. The primary sound source is a recording made at Llanina, treated in different ways within the work. One instance is created through repeated saving as MP3 and re-saving creating compression artifacts within the audio, adding rhythms and peculiarities which are enhanced by normalising, time-stretching, pitch-shifting and filtering. The corruption of the data through transfer, compression and conversion reflects the potential distortion allied to the continued updating of archival practice.

Familiar natural sounds emerge combined with fragments of vinyl records introduced by an electronic voice reading it’s database entry, while voices of the other artists discussing issues, ideas and intentions surrounding this installation create a connection to current daily activity in the area. Submerged within other sounds, they occasionally surface, displaced and out of time they could be anywhere.

(Additional turntables place sounds used within the composition, and other local recordings, in discrete locations in the space allowing the visitor different listening experiences according to their position.)

I am currently working on some new work for this gig in Llanina next week using field recordings from the area, a cassette of my mum reading tarot, some trombone recorded on the beach, music relating to my Uncle Dave (session musician and Black Lion denizen), and a number of locally connected vinyl records.

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Uncle Dave

Childhood Memory

Me & my brother with Uncle Dave

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Bags

Probably my favourite record shop bag is this one from the long gone ‘Centre of Music’ in Cardigan.   The shop was first located in the centre of town I believe, on the site of what is now The Original Factory Shop, before moving to Pendre and finally closing in the early 1980s.20190227_173824.jpgI met Mani’s Son Gethin back in 2010 when I was exhibiting some work in the Guildhall Gallery in the town centre.  The exhibition was part of a project about local chapels and their history and we chatted about his father who I had heard used to record various local chapel’s Cymanfa Ganu events (Choir festivals) direct to disc before the advent of tape recorders.  He told me about how they had built the first radio in their village and how they placed the earpiece (no speakers in those days) in a large ceramic bowl and gathered around to listen, and how his mother was deeply suspicious of who and where the voices they heard were.
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He returned later in the week bringing me a CD of recordings his father had made in local chapels, a vintage bag from the shop and a blank unused record (which has lived on my kitchen wall since).

Another local music shop no longer trading is Swales in Haverfordwest.  Trading into the 90s I remember it was one of the best record shops in the area as well as selling instruments and sheet music too.  Visit http://www.britishrecordshoparchive.org/swales.html for a great selection of photos from there.  The founder and namesake Robert Joffre Swales, known as “Joffre”, was awarded an MBE in 1975 for his services to music in the town for over 50 years.  As well as playing in a number of bands and teaching music he set up an instrument rental scheme at Swales, allowing those less well off members of the community the opportunity to enjoy learning and playing an instrument.

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These last ones I know very little or nothing about, the Dales bag came (with a record in) from a charity shop in Fishguard I think, the others were gifts from my good friend Flo Fflach.
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Three Four Five Nursery Course - Nonsense songs

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Liz Whittaker – Astrologer and Psychic – Found cassette

A few years back I found a cassette in the local Barnardo’s charity shop (maybe 2013?).  It was before compact cassettes got trendy again, and possibly only of interest to anyone else to record over and reuse..

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I regret not listening to it when I first found it.

For as long as I can remember my Mum was an astrolger and psychic (also an author, dramatist and journalist) and offered a range of services including Astrological readings, tarot and palmistry.  Through the 1980s and into the early 90s she would record the readings for clients onto cassette so they could listen back as they liked.  Interesting to find this in a charity shop, something so personal and potentially loaded with meaning to someone..

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After my mum died in 2015 I found the cassette again in a drawer of her desk and though I don’t remember that it had anything written on it when I bought it, it now has the name ‘Lou’ written on both cassette and case.  I was slightly taken aback by this as Lou was the name of my best friend who had died almost exactly a year before my Mum.  Slightly freaked out by this I decided to put it away and look at it again another time.

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Since then I have speculated what might be recorded on it: was it a reading for another Lou and just a weird coincidence it was my friends name? or was it a reading for my friend from years before?  or a message from not so long ago..?

I felt I wanted to do something with it, to play it purposefully, for a reason.  I also wanted to be sure the tape player was not going to destroy it and set up to film and record it playing.  So here we are some years later and I decided it was time to play it for Mother’s day 2019…

So the side with the name written on it was blank – I have a memory of her asking if I had a means of making voice recordings in the last few years she was with us and I suggested she use her mobile phone – what I think happened is that my mum tried to record a message for Lou, but the microphone or tape machine didn’t work properly and just wiped the existing recording.

The second side has a recorded tarot reading for an unnamed client and has predictions for them for autumn and winter 1988, it sounded like they had a quite a busy time ahead!

I would be really interested to hear from you if you have one of these cassettes or a written horoscope/reading by Liz Whittaker, there must be quite a lot of them out there in the attics and cupboards of West Wales…

Gwlad y Delyn – Land of the Harp (2)

A couple of old 78s recorded playing on a vintage Decca Junior gramophone dating from the mid 1920s.  Despite being a song called ‘Land of the Harp’ they both seem to have piano accompaniment, perhaps piano recorded better on the microphones of the day…

The John Lovering version appears to be from around 1929 according to the fantastic resource that is tedstaunton.com. While the version by Miss Annie Rees is listed in the September 1924 Zonophone record catalogue here in the British Library.

More recently I have been involved in a number of projects with harpists, one of my favourites was this short film for the fantastic duo Deuair