Steam Engines

Thus we are approaching noise-sound. This revolution of music is paralleled by the increasing proliferation of machinery sharing in human labor. In the pounding atmosphere of great cities as well as in the formely silence countryside, machines creat today such a large number of varied noises that pure sound, with its littleness and its monotony, now fails to arouse any emotion. [Art of Noise, 1913 - Luigi Russolo]

Every once in awhile I'm able to flee the isolation of the studio and venture out into the real world in search of new noises. Last week was one such an occasion when sound designer John Cohen and myself travelled to Wanborough village just outside Swindon to record the sounds of several Victorian and Edwardian-era traction engines. We managed to capture a whole range of hisses, creaks, clangs and chugging mechanical rhythms that would have made Russolo proud - a soundscape of an altogether more industrial age.

Many thanks to Colin Hatch at Hatch Heritage and Steam Engineers for allowing us to record these fascinating machines.

 John Cohen excavating the sonic innards of a traction engine

John Cohen excavating the sonic innards of a traction engine