September 18th, 2021
Last day of August. Pleasant sunshine, blue sky. Wind 1 to 2 knots, barely noticeable. Standing tall with motionless leaves, the trees are leaning into the warmth, letting their limbs soak up every available ounce of the sun’s golden heat. Along the old bridleway, away from the grey noise of a cross-country road, quiet fields are revealed. Knee deep with grass. Waiting to be mown.
So begins the latest entry in Radio Lento’s podcast series of landscape sound postcards in 3D immersive sound. “Best with earphones. Can help focus while reading, resting or being mindful.”
Each episode is made up of an intriguing title, then a few gentle meditative paragraphs, followed by a link to the sound itself. The titles on their own are enough to make you want to follow them through the fields, into the woods, or along the river.
- Rising tide in the rock garden – the sea wall near Bradwell-on-Sea
- A doze in the grass on Wallasea Island
- Night shallowing in a Suffolk Wood
Radio Lento’s Twitter is a lively riot of images, observations and, of course, sounds. It reads like a commonplace book of the team’s reflections and discoveries as they forage for sounds around the UK.
They curate collections too – check out Soundscapes for a hot day which includes An empty beach: “Felixstowe on a still day in May. An empty beach. No wind. Just the sound of the sea breaking and receding”, followed by a very different landscape – Abney Park in the rain. “The trees were heavy with early autumn leaves so the sound of the rain was intense, blocking out the usual London traffic, sirens and helicopters.”
Browsing through the site, I found this intriguing post likening the sound of wind in the trees to technology-driven white noise. Radio Lento brings nature and technology together, pointing out that “Of course, natural noise generators exist everywhere”. It’s good to see how they introduce a thread of technobiophilia into their practice.
August 28th, 2021
Artificial white noise generators designed to promote sleep and relaxation are widely available online and via apps. For anyone trying to steer their mind away from the distractions of the world they provide a stream of wind-like sound, that masks, washes, and soothes.
The introduction is followed a contemplation of the benefits of listening to white noise, concluding with the background to the piece you are about to hear.
High up on an exposed moor, between the Derbyshire towns of Glossop and Buxton, an old oak tree leans into the wind. Its sound is heard only by passing walkers, who from time to time, clink through the gate on their way over the exposed moor. As we passed, we tied the microphones to one of the low boughs, leeside of the strong prevailing wind, and left them alone to record.
The microphones did their work, and you can hear the white noise of the tree surging into your ears – but to enjoy this, you will have to visit the website and listen for yourself.
Find out more about Radio Lento and the people behind it in this piece in The Guardian by Carrie O’Grady. “Streams trickling, owls hooting, churchbells ringing … Radio Lento, a kitchen-table podcast created by first-timers, has scored a lockdown hit by bringing the great outdoors indoors.”
Take their advice and “travel through your ears”. There are many pleasures to be found.