Al Carlisle, one of the eight artists involved in Absent Voices, was kind enough to give up some time to talk to me about his contribution to this project so far.
Al, working with fellow Absent Voices artist as well as band member Ryan King, plans to produce a soundtrack/soundscape that captures the ambience of the SugarSheds. They hope this piece will work to encompass the past, present and possible futures of these buildings.
They began by focusing mainly on the structure and the stories this might tell. Who knows where this could lead?
They could create a vast sonic landscape, a soundtrack to the building. This soundtrack could captures the history and feel of the building from the workers and the community’s point of views dating from the era of mass production right down to its decline. Their sound piece could possibly get down to the real nitty-gritty of exploring the actual brickwork of the sheds. Nothing is ruled out at this stage.
Both Al and Ryan have spent time at the sheds recording as much as possible inside. They hope to get more recordings which involve the general ambience of both inside and outside of the buildings. Just using a sensitive hand held recorder at this stage can pick up frequencies of sound imperceptible to the human ear. From standing in the doorways of the sheds, sounds picked up include the wind and rain battering down on the roof, boats’ riggings rattling alongside the marina, and the building itself singing as the wind cuts through it.
Al aims to write, play and record a composition of sorts, which fits in with the
building. Along side the actual structural sounds and notes, Al and Ryan have been recording interviews with members of the local community, such as past workers and individuals linked in some way to the sugar industry of Greenock. Through these interviews, they hope to capture the impression of what the sheds were like in full flow in its heyday but also the feel for them during the state of decline and eventual closure. How was the community affected when their life source was severed?
The community response has been great, as Al and Ryan have witnessed the eagerness of individuals to lend their voices, views and stories. This participation has really supported their efforts and work so far.
The next step for this duo of artists is to have their first session with a engineer/producer Andy Miller. Andy has a great reputation, having worked with bands such as Mogwai,
Arab Strap, Songs: Ohio, amongst others. Both Ryan and Al have worked with Andy before and know that he is up to the job of capturing and producing what is required.
Within their plans is taking the sounds captured from the buildings, the contribution from the community and adding to them guitars, drums, synths, piano, percussion, spoken word and anything else they think will work with them. At the moment, there are very few constraints within this part of the project allowing the creative process to take over and see where it leads.
It all sounds very exciting and we look forward to hearing pieces in progress as well as the final piece in November. Thank you Al for sharing your thoughts about your part within the Absent Voices project.