MYSTERY SEA 59 | simon whetham | [beneath the swinging bridge]


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"it struck me that, while traversing the city of bristol, one crosses many bridges, and ones that roads run across tend to be swing bridges - that is, bridges that move aside so that waterways traffic can pass. this causes the road-going traffic to halt, creating pauses in the everyday flow of the city's veins and arteries. one also tends not to hear what occurs beneath bridges, purely using them as a means to cross some normally impassable obstruction. thanks to the staff of the swing bridges in the cumberland basin in bristol, I gained access to parts of the bridges not open to the public, allowing me to explore further these valves of commuter circulation...

density - surrounding thick cloying
dip down under once more
remember where you have been
but always stay focused on your destination

- simon whetham, January 2010


UK artist Simon Whetham has a solid curriculum which betrays years of perceptive sound auscultation, and deep listening. Translating this into practice, he composes with field recordings since a research trip to Iceland in 2005... from there on, both nationally and internationally, he has been commissioned for creating specific sound installations, participated to many exhibitions, done a workshop in the Amazon rainforest at Mamori Lake under Francisco López 's patronage... He has also been involved in various festivals,and released several works on an array of labels such as, entr'acte, Con-v, Lens, Gruenrekorder, Trente Oiseaux, 1000füssler...
He's also the initiator of “Active crossover”, a sound exhibition touring throughout the Uk, where those involved devote themselves to open cross-pollination...
Simon Whetham through his activities wishes to place “the ear” in a central position as imaginary fertilizer as opposed to the tyranny of the visual...

beneath the swinging bridge”, his MS contribution, casts a peculiar light onto a passage point & everyday architectural element, attempting to make us figure it out on a pure aural, sensory mode...

Distortion of time,
light metal breeze,
low gurgling chant
along oxidized furrows...
Listen to the corroded particles,
the subdued streams...
crossing over,
we're just passengers,
transient and frail,
trying to learn...
stagnating pools & ever changing flows,
beyond the firm structures...
hidden life exudes
from every surface...
A distant song fades like a twisted memory...

beneath the swinging bridge” is an ode to connection...


01. beneath the swinging bridge




CDR ltd to 110 numbered copies


VITAL WEEKLY 723|Frans De Waard   
Since 2005, when traveling to Iceland, Simon Whetham concerns himself with field recordings. His work has been released by various labels, such as Entr'acte, Con-V, Gruenrekorder, 1000Fussler and now he finds home on Mystery Sea. I assume that for this recording, given the title, Whetham found himself under a bridge, recording the boats passing, the water on the shore and all of that captured in the space found under the bridge, capturing the reflections these sounds make in the high ceiling. Maybe not of course. Then at home he puts all those sounds on his computer and starts playing around with them. He uses a lot of filtering on the sounds in order to get out those frequencies he thinks are interesting in his composition. Then he moves them around in various blocks, so there is a part that deals with water, or with boats passing etc. Its a great work I must say. Very sparse, but never quiet, a slowly evolving composition with lots of room to breath and gentle movements between the parts. Maybe in terms of field recordings and microsound nothing much new under the bridge, but done with a great love for the material at hand. Excellent piece.
vital weekly

Fittingly there's a decidedly aquatic theme to Simon Whetham's contribution to the Mystery Sea catalogue.  Water trickles, pretty much, throughout this rather lovely composition.  He overlays the water with vaporous tonal drones that pulsate and oscillate their way through intermittent coral reefs of less salubrious sounds.  His tones are a little too cold for full immersion in the sound so you are never fully swept along but as an accompaniment to my daily life it is a more than suitable soundtrack.
wonderful wooden reasons

FURTHERNOISE|Alan Lockett  --- NEW !
Fittingly 'The ECM of ghostly ambient sounds,' declares Belgium's Mystery Sea in a pithy keynote at its website entrance. Presumptuous perhaps, but apt, in view of the yawning resonance and spectral drift of its aqueous and chthonic back catalogue. Daniel Crokaert operates out of Brussels, Belgium and has been steadily putting out MS’s solicitously packaged short-run cdrs for nearly a decade. The label has run the gamut of experimental cognoscenti contributors to its ocean-drone theme, with earlier works from mnortham, Dale Lloyd, and Troum to, more recently, Matt Shoemaker, Asher and jgrzinich. Certainly MS affords a natural home to the enquiring ear of Bristol sound artist Simon Whetham's aleatory view from the under bridge. With an extensive CV that betrays years of perceptive sound auscultation, Whetham's been surveying various fields with his questing mike for some years, the fruits of which have issued in specific sound installations, sundry exhibitions, workshops (e.g. in the Amazon under Francisco López's patronage), and releases on entr'acte, Con-v, Lens, Gruenrekorder, and Trente Oiseaux. Initiator of “Active Crossover”, a sound exhibition devoted to artistic cross-pollination, he purports 'to place “the ear” in a central position as imaginary fertilizer as opposed to the tyranny of the visual...'
On Beneath the Swinging Bridge Mystery Sea's evolving series of 'night ocean drones' finds a passage point and everyday architectural element recast as sounding source, prompting interpretations in pure aural, sensory mode. Liner notes state that all source material for this album was recorded in the Cumberland Basin, Bristol. As would be expected, water, variously voiced from drips to sluicings, plays a leading role, but the creaks and baritone lowing of the swing bridge are the stars. Low level listening may be de rigueur with experimental ambient and deep listening, but BtSB gains valency in volume, as beneath the aqueous babble-bubble are some engrossing drones and sound-pearls for deep audio-divers. Whetham's bridge peals to reval more of the world beneath it till we might almost be there now, attended by the chance gamelan of gas pipes and water traffic. Whetham's ominous sonography turns out to be an immaculate conception with moments of brilliant realization.