Fast Slow Radio presents 22 sonic impressions from locations around the globe. It was commissioned by Radio Art Zone, a 100-day radio art station for Esch2022 (EU Capitol of Culture), which was broadcast in Luxembourg by Radio ARA on 87.8 FM and around the world via online broadcast partners.
Each 60 minute section is an “audio time-lapse” combining thousands of chronological audio samples collected during a 24hr period. Fast Slow Radio combines the glacial pacing of Norwegian “Sakte-TV” with the constant change of Luc Ferrari’s “Presque rien No. 1”.
When long recordings are time-compressed, slow changes become audible, like the hidden movement of plants revealed by a time-lapse film. This way of listening helps me appreciate the more-than-human patterns around me. When listening at this speed, nothing is static: The “constant” hum of the city changes timbre as rush-hour approaches. Underwater recordings reveal the diurnal cycles of insects or the ferry schedules of a metropolis. In the forest, animal voices mark their shifting territories against a backdrop of wind and water that are always present but always in flux.
These are short excerpts from a few of the hour-long sections of Fast Slow Radio. They were selected to highlight moments of change and transformation.
Clip from Hour 5: A Field in West Iceland (5 min)
A recording from West Iceland, contributed by field-recordist Magnús Bergsson. In the summer months, Iceland is a major destination for migratory birds. In this excerpt we hear the last “bleatings” of the Common Snipe between 11pm and midnight as the sun finally goes down and a light rain starts to fall.
Clip from Hour 6: Cerro Pelon Butterfly Reserve, Mexico (5 min)
From a live audio stream on the edge of the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Mexico (courtesy of composer Rob Mackay and forest ranger Patricio Moreno). This excerpt begins at 6am and follows the dawn chorus as songbirds join the early morning soundscape of rushing water, distant roosters and barking dogs.
Clip from Hour 8: Great Vly swamp, Saugerties, NY (4 min)
A hillside overlooking The Great Vly swamp in Saugerties, NY near the banks of the Hudson River. In this excerpt, evening turns to night and the geese and Red Wing Blackbirds give way to a chorus of spring peeper tree frogs.
Clip from Hour 14: Survey Park, Kolkata India (5 min)
A balcony in the Survey Park neighborhood in Kolkata, India. It was captured from the live stream maintained by Sukanta Majumdar, a sound-designer and field-recordist. This excerpt begins around 6pm as loud construction work ends and the soundscape transitions to commuters and eventually night-time insects.
Clip from Hour 16: Scrapyard, Brooklyn, NY (4 min)
A metal scrapyard in Brooklyn, NY. Two cranes are sorting through huge piles of metal to fill a recycling barge. The recorder also captures the sound of an elevated highway, a train line, and a cement plant. In this excerpt, the workday ends and the more subtle nuances of the city soundscape emerge.
Full Broadcast: August 1st, 2022 on Radio Art Zone
Hour 1 (12 UTC)
Winter Near a Beaver Pond, Stanfordville, NY
The first time-lapse recording is from the edge of a pond, about 2 hours north of New York City, in a secluded residential area with very little car traffic. It was recorded on a windy day in late winter 2022. The recording starts at 9AM. The pond is covered in ice. As night falls we can hear a beaver foraging in the forest. In the 2nd hour we’ll hear the same location in Springtime.
Hour 2 (13 UTC)
Springtime Near a Beaver Pond, Stanfordville, NY
This is the second recording from the edge of a pond, about 2 hours north of New York City, in a secluded residential area with very little car traffic. This recording is from late Spring in 2022. I hear some of the same species as the winter recording, but a lot has changed. frog species dominate the night-time hours. The recording starts at 9AM.
Hour 3 (14 UTC)
South River, Ontario, Canada
In this hour we’ll listen to a recording from Canadian sound artist Darren Copeland. He’s been making long recordings in a rural area of Central Ontario since 2019, part of a body of work called The Absent Listener. This recording is from June 2021. I’m struck by the richness of the soundscape and the lack of anthropogenic noise. It starts at 4AM.
Photo: Darren Copeland, from The Absent Listener
Hour 4 (15 UTC)
Wheatfen Nature Reserve, Norwich, England, UK
In this hour we’ll hear a recording from the Wheatfen Nature Reserve, a protected wetland near Norwich, England that provides habitat for a huge range of species. Sound artist and educator Martin Scaiff installed an audio livestream at Wheatfen that you can hear on the Locus Sonus sound map (“Norfolk Broads”). I captured this recording from the stream in winter 2022. It starts at 6AM.
Hour 5 (16 UTC)
A Field in West Iceland
In this hour we’ll hear a recording from West Iceland, contributed by field-recordist Magnús Bergsson. In the warmer months, Iceland is a major destination for migratory birds, and his recording really captures the richness of the biophony. The bleating of the Common Snipe is one of the most enigmatic bird sounds I can think of. This recording is from April 2022 and starts at 4AM.
Photo: Magnús Bergsson
Hour 6 (17 UTC)
Cerro Pelon Butterfly Reserve, Mexico
In this hour we’ll hear a recording from the edge of the Cerro Pelón Monarch Butterfly Reserve in Mexico. I captured this recording from the audio live stream that was installed in 2018 as part of the Following The Flight Of The Monarchs project spearheaded by composer & sound artist Rob Mackay. (The stream is currently maintained by forest ranger Patricio Moreno.) I captured this recording from the stream in April 2022. It starts at midnight.
Photo: Rob Mackay
Hour 7 (18 UTC)
A Chicken Coop in Binghamton, NY
In the last hour we heard a lot of roosters in the distance. So in this hour we’ll hear hens, very, very close. This is a recording from inside a backyard chicken coop in Binghamton, NY. It was recorded by Monteith Mccollum, an artist who works in film, sound, and sculpture. I love the combination of improvised percussion and voice here, and the way it expresses the social dynamics inside the coop. We can hear the outside as well, filtering through the walls. It was recorded in March 2022 and begins at 1pm.
Photo: Monteith Mccollum
Hour 8 (19 UTC)
Great Vly Swamp, Saugerties, NY
In this hour we’ll hear a recording from a hillside overlooking The Great Vly in Saugerties, NY. The Great Vly is a tiny but charming swamp sandwiched between a major highway and a cement plant near the banks of the Hudson River. This was recorded on a windy day in April 2022. Despite the constant drone of car traffic, the underbrush sounds alive with foraging creatures and the waterfowl and spring peeper tree frogs make a lively racket. It starts at noon.
Hour 9 (20 UTC)
North Carolina, USA
In this hour we’ll hear a recording from 2014 by Patrick Perdue, an audio editor and veteran streamer on the Locus Sonus sound map. This was recorded in the US state of North Carolina, in a neighborhood where we can hear a lot of overlap between the animal and human populations. We hear the sounds of people shaping their environment: air conditioners, lawnmowers, and construction sounds trade off with the biophony. It starts at 7am.
Hour 10 (21 UTC)
Luzanky Park, Brno, Czech Republic
This is a recording from Luzanky Park in the city of Brno in the Czech republic. I captured this from an audio live stream by Udo Noll, who also created the Radio Aporee sound map and radio.earth livestream project. Luzanky is the largest municipal park in the city and has a distinctly urban sound. I love how the focus of this recording is always changing as different visitors pass by the microphones. Overnight the soundscape changes completely, dominated by the wash of distant traffic and the sporadic shouts of wandering humans. The recording starts at 3:30 AM.
Photo: Tomáš Šenkyřík
Hour 11 (22 UTC)
Floating University, Berlin
This recording is from the Floating University site at the rainwater retention pool of Berlin’s former Tempelhof airport. The airport closed in 2008 and Floating University was created as an urban laboratory for engaging with the man-made environment reclaimed by nature. It’s a physical structure and an association dedicated to taking care of the site and engaging with the public. I captured this recording in May 2022 from their live stream on the Locus Sonus sound map. (Stream by Archipel Stations Community Radio.) Like Luzanky Park in Brno, this is a public space of gathering, an oasis for wildlife and a nexus of culture. The recording begins at 1pm.
Hour 12 (23 UTC)
Footscray, Melbourne, Australia
This recording is from Wurundjeri Country (Footscray, Melbourne, Australia). As a suburb of a major city it’s a collision of different daily cycles. We hear the ebb and flow of traffic and commuter trains, chickens in a nearby yard, human conversations, and the unique wildlife of Australia. This recording was contributed by producer and broadcaster Rebecca Fary. It begins at 2pm.
Photo: Rebecca Fary
Hour 13 (Aug 2, 00 UTC)
Balcony in Berlin
This recording was made from an apartment balcony in Berlin, overlooking a courtyard and street-corner. It was contributed by film-maker and sound artist Zach Hart. Each street-corner has its own sonic character and I’m particularly interested in the echoes that give this recording a sense of containment – a refuge of smaller sounds within the larger city. It was recorded in April 2022 and begins at 2pm.
Photo: Zach Hart
Hour 14 (01 UTC)
Survey Park, Kolkata India
This is a recording from a balcony in the Survey Park neighborhood in Kolkata, India. It was captured from the livestream maintained by Sukanta Majumdar, a sound-designer and field-recordist. I’m struck by the dynamics of this soundscape, from urban construction to near-silent night-time insects. It was recorded in April 2022 and begins at 4am.
Photo: Sukanta Majumdar
Hour 15 (02 UTC)
Manhattan Bridge, NYC
This is a recording of the eastern entrance to the Manhattan Bridge, one of several NYC bridges that connect Manhattan to Brooklyn. The recorder is in a small green oasis, bounded by the curve of a bicycle line as it climbs to meet the roadway. The soundscape is dominated by the 24hr sounds of subway traffic, cars, and trucks. But the dawn chorus peaks through the noise, and a hardy mockingbird raises its voice above it all. It was recorded in April 2022 and begins at 4pm.
Hour 16 (03 UTC)
Scrapyard, Brooklyn NY
This is a recording of a metal scrapyard in Brooklyn, NY in May 2022. Two cranes are sorting through huge piles of metal to fill a recycling barge. The recorder is positioned across a canal and also captures the sound of an elevated highway, a train line, and a cement plant. The din of twisting metal stops when the workday ends, and the more subtle nuances of the city soundscape come through overnight. The recording starts at 10am.
Hour 17 (04 UTC)
JFK Airport, NYC
This is a recording from March 2022 on a beach near JFK airport in NYC. We can hear the constant rhythm of the planes, distant subway traffic, and the more subtle beachfront sounds of water, wind, and birds inbetween. The soundscape changes during the few overnight hours when the air traffic stops. The recording begins at 6:30 pm.
Hour 18 (05 UTC)
Church Bell, Brooklyn NY
This is a contact microphone recording of a church bell in Brooklyn, NY that was moved outside for display when the church was converted to apartments. I’m fascinated by the way bells continue to ring in sympathy with their environment, and I can hear this one resonating with the weather, birds, pedestrians, and the low rumble of the city itself. It was recorded in April 2022 and begins at noon.
Hour 19 (06 UTC)
Rams Horn Sanctuary, Catskill NY
This is a recording of the RamsHorn-Livingston Sanctuary in Catskill, NY. It’s a meandering tidal swamp on the edge of the Hudson river with tall grasses and marsh vegetation. The recorder was placed in a forested area with thick underbrush on the edge of the swamp. The wind animates the trees and brush in the immediate foreground, along with birds and amphibians. These are set off from a background of human habitation: car traffic, trains along the riverside, and churchbells from the nearby town. It was recorded in April 2022 and begins at 7pm.
Hour 20 (07 UTC)
Tivoli Bays Wildlife Reserve, Hudson River, NY
This is a recording from the Tivoli Bays Wildlife Management Area, the best examples of freshwater intertidal marsh and swamp habitats in the Hudson River estuary. The recorder was placed along a narrow dirt road that floods at high tide, surrounded by snaking channels of tall marsh grass. A train line passes nearby, but there isn’t much other anthropogenic noise besides aircraft and distant traffic. This was recorded on a holiday weekend in May 2022. There were fireworks, occasional hikers and boaters, and lots of frogs, marsh birds, and aquatic mammals. It starts at 8:30pm.
Hour 21 (08 UTC)
Frioul Islands, Marseille France
This is a recording from the Frioul islands in Calanques National Park near Marseille in France. I captured it in May 2022 from the livestream on the Locus Sonus sound map (“Marseille – Frioul”) established by the Acoustic Commons network. Compared to Tivoli Bays, this recording has a much larger scale and sense of distance. It’s dominated at first by a strong coastal wind that buffets the mics and makes everything around them sing. Later the soundscape is dominated by a colony of sea birds in the distance before the wind comes back. The recording starts at 2pm.
Photo: Acoustic Commons network
Hour 22 (09 UTC)
Snow Storm in Acra, NY
This is a recording of a snowy winter day in January 2022 at Wave Farm, in Acra NY. It was captured from the livestream installed by Soundcamp as a test site for the Acoustic Commons network. I know this area well because my Pond Station project is located there too. Visually, it’s a secluded forest atmosphere, but the noise from a nearby highway tends to dominate the soundscape. In this recording, heavy wind, freezing rain, and snow take center stage, activating the space in a different way. It starts at 11am.
July 18, 2022: Sneak Peak for World Listening Day 2022
5-6PM EDT (UTC-4)
World Listening Day is an annual event that engages and expands the global community in varied practices and concerns of listening and field recording. In addition to soundwalks and events around the world, there was an online stream of live and pre-recorded soundworks, including a Fast Slow Radio time-lapse.
Shinsu University Nature Education Garden, Japan
For World Listening Day I recorded a stream from Cyberforest program at the University of Tokyo. They have been streaming and archiving audio from Japanese forests since 1997. I captured 24 hrs from the “Otanomo” stream at the Shinsu University Nature Education Garden near Nagano. It’s a mountaintop park that brings people into contact with the forested landscape. The WLD theme for 2022 is “listening across boundaries.” During the COVID pandemic shutdowns, boundaries seemed everywhere, but environmental live-streams like the Cyberforest project linked me with the world outside those limitations.
Photo: Cyberforest, University of Tokyo