Nigel Letters From Mouse / Meredith St Swithin's Day Storm
Solid blue vinyl. Working with Nigel Meredith, a space weather research scientist at the British Antarctic Survey who he had previously worked with on the bonus track 'Confused By The Simple' from An Gàrradh, Anderson used recordings of 'space weather' from a geomagnetic storm in 2012. These sounds were captured using the Halley research station's very low frequency receiver in the Antarctic, alongside Anderson's own modular synth structures. "Space weather events are natural phenomena, driven by the Sun, that can affect technological systems in space and on the ground," explains Meredith, whose voice can be heard across St Swithin's Day Storm. "The Sun is an active star, with frequent explosions on it's surface, sending bursts of charged particles and magnetic fields out into space. If they're directed towards Earth, when they reach us, they can tear open the Earth's magnetic field, giving rise to a geomagnetic storm. Such storms are accompanied by many effects in near-Earth space, including beautiful aurora displays and the generation of natural radio waves known as chorus emissions - so called, because when played back as audio, they often resemble the twittering of birds in the dawn chorus. They also have the power to disrupt our technological systems, including satellites, communications, aviation and power grids." Meredith has been working with musicians and artists since 2018 to incorporate recordings from Halley into compositions as part of a data-as-art outreach project called Sounds Of Space. For his collaboration with Letters From Mouse, he found a previously unused sequence of space weather recordings from a geomagnetic storm centered on St. Swithin's Day in 2012. Anderson takes us on a journey through the phases of the storm's progression - initial, main and recovery - using the distinctive space weather sounds that the Halley receiver yields: spherics, which appear as crackles and pops; whistlers, descending tones caused by lightning strikes; chorus, which evoke birdsong. "I really wanted to harness the science behind this," says Anderson. "I wanted to get the sounds front and centre and really feature them. They're in an adulterated, raw form, but also heavily doctored. A lot of them have been run as samples into the modular system, and mangled in weird and wonderful ways." In Anderson's hands, the spherics form the basis of rhythms, and the chorus becomes mysterious and rapturous melodies. Over these raw or manipulated sounds, Meredith delivers an educational explanation of space weather and how it can impact life on Earth.
- 1. Before the Storm
- 2. Early Recovery Phase
- 3. Late Recovery Phase
- 4. After the Storm