Water of Life set of art, writing and sound released

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We’re delighted to announce that our ‘Water of Life’ set is released today.  Exploring the lines that water threads through Edinburgh, the package includes:

* Hand letterpressed folder on recycled card
* Set of six art prints by Tommy, riso printed using soy inks on recycled paper
* Set of five essays by Rob on water, art and the environment
* 7″ record pressed on recycled vinyl, with handpainted labels
* Download code

The set, limited to 300 copies, is available through our bandcamp page.

It can also be bought in Analogue Books, Underground Solushun, Vox Box Records and Red Door Gallery in Edinburgh.

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Here’s some articles and interviews about the project:

Post Magazine, January 2014
A Closer Listen, 8th January 2014

Incendiary Magazine, 7th January 2014
The Active Listener, 6th January 2014
Record Collector, January 2014
The Vinyl Factory, 17th December 2013
The Quietus, 15th December 2013
Caught by the River, 11th December 2013
The Scotsman, 5th December 2013
Clear Minded Collective, 28 November 2013
Decoder Magazine, 21 November 2013
The Scotsman, 6th November 2013
The Herald, 6th November 2013

We also made Uncut Magazine’s Wild Mercury Sound playlist  and got a 4/5 review in The List magazine, which said that the project: “blurs field recordings with folksong, vintage synths and ambient electronica to create something at once natural, unnatural, and in perfect harmony with its source.”.  

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Water of Life 7″ on recycled vinyl:

Field recordings made with hydrophone, ambient and contact microphone recordings of rivers, spring houses, manhole covers, pub barrel rooms, pipelines and taps are mixed with the peals and drones of 1960s transistor organs, harmoniums, Swedish micro-synths, drum machines and iPads: a blend of the natural and unnatural; modern and antiquated; hi-fi and lo-fi. Drum beats were sampled from underwater recordings, and reverbs created using the convolution reverb technique to recreate the sonic space of different bodies of water.

Many of the sounds collected around Edinburgh and used to make the record are available on our sound map.

WoL-InsertScan-Comiston-Image-WebA: Sources and Springs / Abercrombie, 1949 (4.30) 

Side A begins with a set of field recordings taken at the start of Edinburgh’s water network – the sources and springs at Talla, Harperigg and Comiston – slowly merging into a tune for Edinburgh’s imagined and unseen landscapes inspired by Abercrombie and Plumstead’s futurist vision for the city in 1949.

B: Liquid City / The Shellycoat (4.32) 

Side B is about confluences through the city: the pipelines, storm drains and sewers leading to sanitation and the sea, ending in a set of voices singing an excavated children’s song about a watery spirit said to haunt the Pennybap boulder by Seafield Sewage Works.

Additional voices on ‘The Shellycoat’ by Ruben Bee, Clarissa Cheong and Neil Pennycook.

Fieldwork photos: Tommy

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Talla Reservoir

We designed this project with an emphasis on collaboration, and our regular research trips through the summer perhaps echoed the geography fieldtrip in many ways.   However, instead of taking numerical data, we took sound recordings, drew maps which stretched space and time, made notes based on our chats about art and the environment, and took photographs with fallible old film cameras.

As part of this work, Tommy dug out an old family Rolleiflex 120 camera.  When the negatives were developed, we found that the camera’s winding mechanism had embedded a series of scratches down each shot.  After a brief period of disappointment, we began to appreciate the photos for what they were, made entirely by our process of discovery, imperfect reflections of our views of water in the landscape: pastoral and mechanical; natural and industrial; out of sight and off-limits.  Many photographs have links to sound recordings taken at the sites.

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Seafield Sewage Works

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Pennybap Boulder, Seafield Sewage Works

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Glencorse Filter Beds

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Talla Reservoir

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Glencorse Reservoir

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Megget Reservoir

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Waterfall on Edinburgh streets

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Overgrown Water of Leith pipeline bridge

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Edinburgh Bypass Bridge over the Water of Leith

Fieldwork photos: Rob

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Water of Leith, Balerno

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Overgrown pipeline across the Water of Leith, Balerno

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Tommy and his Rolleiflex, Balerno

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Millstone in Spylaw Park, Colinton

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Comiston Well Head

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Comiston Well Head

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Fox Spring Rise, Comiston Springs, Oxgangs

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Comiston Well Head

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Tommy at Comiston Water House

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St. Margaret’s Well, Holyrood Park

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Lochend Loch and Pump House

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Seafield Sewage Works

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Talla Reservoir

Taken on 35mm film on a Voigtländer Vito B camera.

The Drowned Type

We’re using the infamous Doves Type for three of the essays in the Water of Life package.  Doves Type was designed around 1900 in London, cast in an Edinburgh foundry, and the entire metal typeface tipped methodically into the River Thames by one of its commissioners, Thomas Cobden-Sanderson in 1916.

As Simon Garfield describes in his entertaining survey of typography ‘Just My Type‘, Cobden-Sanderson began Doves Press in 1900, inspired by William Morris’ emphasis on intertwined beauty and functionality in design.  With his partner, Emery Walker, Cobden-Sanderson found success with Doves Press for a few short years, until the pair split in 1908.  Fearing its use in unsuitable printing if he was to die, Cobden-Sanderson took on the long and arduous job of ‘bequeathing’ Doves type to the River Thames, throwing solid blocks of type from Hammersmith Bridge, so that the it would be carried ‘to and from the great sea for ever and ever’, as he described the act in his Will.  Waiting for heavy traffic to mask the sound of the splash of the metal type in the water, Cobden-Sanderson – then seventy-six –  made over one hundred trips to and from the river, gradually giving the typeface over the heavy ebb of the tide.

Unused for over a century, Doves type has been recreated beautifully by Robert Green at digital type foundry 7th seal. You can read more about the font’s fascinating history at Creative Review.

Doves Type Imprint was only just released and the timing couldn’t have been better for us as we were just about ready to send our designs to be riso printed. We’re very happy to be able to use such a fitting typeface for this project.

Below is a scan of one of Rob’s essays set in Doves Type.

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Pre-order the Water of Life limited edition 7″ folio of art, essays and music

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We are now taking pre-orders for our Water of Life limited edition 7″ folio. The package comprises: a letter-pressed folder on recycled card, a 7″ record pressed on recycled vinyl and a set of essays by Rob and prints by Tommy exploring the themes of the project, riso printed using soy inks on recycled paper. Each copy also comes with a digital download of the music.

The package is limited to 300 copies, and will be released on 9th December 2013, but you can order your copy now from our bandcamp site. Pre-orders will receive an instant download. We’ll be posting the packages out during the first week of December.

You can read more about the project and the release in features in The Herald and The Scotsman.


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Performance at Summerhall

echo of light

 

On 7th and 8th November, we will perform at Summerhall, Edinburgh at a night curated by our friends at Folklore Tapes called ‘Echo of Light’.  Tickets and more information here.

We will play music from our upcoming 7″, essay and print release, using recordings made with hydrophone, ambient and contact microphone recordings of rivers, spring houses, manhole covers, pub barrel rooms, pipelines and taps, mixed with the peals and drones of a 1960s transistor organ, harmonium, Swedish micro-synth, drum machine and iPad: a blend of the natural and unnatural; modern and antiquated; hi-fi and lo-fi. Drum beats have been sampled from underwater recordings, and reverbs created using the convolution reverb technique to recreate the sonic space of different bodies of water.

The performances will accompany screenings of the 1964 film ‘Rain on the Roof’, an Edinburgh Water Corporation production featuring a forward-looking blend of pastoral, mechanical and futurist visions for the city’s aquatic landscapes. The film has been specially digitised by the Scottish Screen Archive for this rare screening.

Hot off the press!

WoL-Folders-PrintedEdwin just sent us this photo of the letter pressed paper. There’s 350 sheets in those two stacks and apparently they only took a teaspoon of ink to print. (The press is mechanically inked but hand cranked so has very low energy consumption. Edwin’s energy consumption was roughly one sausage roll). Next these printed pages will go to a Glasgow-based packaging company who will cut them using a specially made cutting form. Then they’ll be sent back to us for folding and inserting the vinyl and art prints / essays.