Radio Lento podcast
Daydream 1 (a series of short August adventures)

Daydream 1 (a series of short August adventures)

August 6, 2022

Begin, by a country church on the hills above Harlow in Essex, and at the foot of a jovial fir tree, hushed by warm wind. It's a sunny afternoon and a blackbird is singing in the secluded churchyard of St Mary's, Gilston. Wood pigeons are sunning their wings on the old slates of the church roof. Great tits call from the long hedgerow that forms a natural boundary to the open fields beyond. 

The open fields beyond. You slip into a daydream, and imagine yourself not beside vast open land, but beside a vast, and open sea. You can almost hear the waves lapping. No, not quite lapping, it's more that they're washing in. Washing in on an incoming tide, from the cool expanse of the North Sea. You're on the Blackwater estuary, listening to the waves coming in. Playfully flowing over tiny, feather light shells, that form a carpet under your warm, bare feet. 

Hot noon sunshine. Eyes blurring. Rising thermals from the dense sedge grass, and a heat haze to make you think you're in a dream. Now you're on Wallasea Island, a little further down along the Essex coast. A nature reserve, and a home to wild birds and countless buzzing insects. It feels like high definition. Pristine and taught with high frequency sound. The aural evidence of an ecosystem that's being nourished with more of what it really needs to exist. Bask for a minute, in its existence. Its intense August heat, and all its life-affirming sound.  
 
And then, to a different kind of place. A creek, along which gulls and redshank and curlews swoop and fly as they hunt for food. A place where sea water ingresses inland, to blend with rolling farmland fields and little collections of homely houses and a beach with gnarled wooden groins. This is Landermere Creek near Thorpe-le-Soken. A cool summer's day with a big sky, a day of changeable weather. Rain clouds are approaching the creek, Dark grey. Heavy. But the birds are flying headlong, all the same.

You follow the rain clouds, inland. Float over miles and miles of land, criss-crossed with rivers, and roads, and strips of woodland, and buildings and settlements. Towards, but not quite, to London. By now the clouds are out of rain, and are now, just clouds. Below is a lake, No, a collection of lakes, Darkening, but that still just about reflect the clouds. The dusk is rapidly gathering. Far below, on the ground, on the thick overgrown ground that forms one bank of a large lake-like pond known as Norman's Pond, the dark bush crickets have come out. Cricketing their sharp, precise stridulating sounds to each other. Then along comes a creature. A small mammal, of some kind. Squeaking, like a children's toy. Can it be real? Where has it come from? It comes, and goes, through the leaf litter, on its jerky, squeaky way. Perhaps the swans, out dabbling on the smooth still water, will know...

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These minute segments are taken from the following full episodes:

We're sharing these mini daydream adventures while we gather new material over the summer. Full-length episodes will return in September.

Thanks for listening to and supporting Radio Lento, a podcast for anyone who loves authentic captured quiet. Each episode is recorded by us, on locations that we find by exploring the landscape on foot, and by listening. We're independent sound recordists, helped by your >>kind donations<<.

130 Dartmoor stream above waterfall gorge - hydrotherapeutic + sleep safe *Summer Recap Series starts next week - see below*

130 Dartmoor stream above waterfall gorge - hydrotherapeutic + sleep safe *Summer Recap Series starts next week - see below*

July 30, 2022

After an hour's steep upward toil, through a thickly wooded gorge and along some very precipitous granite rock formations, you reach a wooden footbridge. Here the landscape's totally changed. Just dense bracken, a rough winding path, all slanted steeply up to a wide open sky. Somewhere, up there you think, is an ancient stone circle known as the Nine Maidens.

But no Dartmoor walk should be done, or needs to be done, without stopping to take in the atmosphere. This footbridge is a natural stopping point. You rest on its weather beaten beam, look down into the tumbling stream, and think at how it nourishes the woodland below. The air is rich with the smell of verdant undergrowth, moist rock and deep green mosses. Then you see an interesting tree, a little further on, growing beside the water. 

At the tree, you sit down for a rest. Looking up, you see it's several types of tree, growing together as one. In front of you begins the wood that runs down into the valley. Behind you the bare path up to the Nine Maidens. But here, in this spot beside the tree, and for this little piece of time, you've found some pure, watery bliss. Feeling the tree's soft bark against your back and the luscious cushioning moorland grass beneath your outstretched legs, you let the richly spatial flowing water lull you into a delicious, dreamlike doze. 

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* We captured the sound feel of this place only a few days ago on Dartmoor, above Okehampton. This 35 minute segment of time shows how a stream is made up of constantly yet subtly shifting formations of richly textured sound, that can be really helpful as a focus for an overly busy or overly tired mind. 

** Over August we're pausing the release of new material so we can travel and find more quiet places. Instead we'll be posting collections of clips we made for Essex Wildlife Trust, along with links to the full episodes so you can listen without having to search the back catalogue. Thanks so much for listening and for your on-going support, including donations which we combine with our own money to keep the podcast going. This week we reached a significant milestone of 200k downloads. Have a lovely August and we'll see you in September!

129 Pristine quiet to early dawn (includes woodcock roding calls in full spatial detail)

129 Pristine quiet to early dawn (includes woodcock roding calls in full spatial detail)

July 23, 2022

For this week's episode we're back in the Forest of Dean for a different kind of captured quiet. Quiet that transforms from one thing to another. A kind of sonic metamorphosis. 

The segment from this overnight recording begins at around 4am when the space around the oak tree holding the microphones is still pitch dark, and pristine quiet. Intimate. A clearing, deep within an expansive forest, where the night air carries so little sound that only the trickling stream can be heard. It reflects narrowly off the trunk of the tree, like the flickering light of a campfire. But when a woodcock flies by, on its *roding flight, the sense of pristine space is temporarily revealed.

This sense of closeness, of being beside an old oak tree and a trickling stream, surrounded by dense and tangled undergrowth, continues, occasionally graced by the distant hooting of an owl, and a passing high altitude passenger plane.

But then, something in the forest changes. Strange new sounds, floating in, from far beyond. Fragments of distant birdsong. Filtered through countless trees, countless empty voids. Echoing, and reverberating. The intimate space, thinning, giving way, opening out, and lightening, through the gathering sound.

A song thrush, heard left of centre of scene, sings out and becomes the first real soloist of this newly evolving place. Widening. Expanding as each new bird joins in song. The proportions of the space growing, from an amphitheatre. Then, to a cathedral. 

* In late spring male woodcocks make roding flights to attract females. Just after dusk and just before dawn, they fly at speed through the treetops making a combination call that sounds like a quack that ends with a squeak. This recording captures the roding flight in 3d spatial audio and so reveals the way the bird is moving.

128 Persistent rain (long, sleep safe, may ease heat fatigue when used in combination with a fan)

128 Persistent rain (long, sleep safe, may ease heat fatigue when used in combination with a fan)

July 16, 2022

Heavily, this winter rain falls. Persistent. Cold. Wet. Refreshing. In waves. In sprinkling flurries. Over time. Onto the huge tarpaulin stretched across the yard, each drop's long downward journey is both completed, and revealed, in one tiny moment. 

It's actually quite loud! And so dense and complex and layered with detail that we tend to hear it as, well, just rain. Just plain old, simple, rain. Listen in though, especially through a pair of headphones, and layer upon layer of spatially detailed rich textured sound will to you become revealed. And if you're in the mood for it, for some really good, long, refreshingly detailed rain, it seems the longer it goes, the more it holds your attention.

Rain, depending where you live in the world, can be a very ordinary thing. But it is also a very spacious and complexly detailed thing. Best captured with panoramic binaural microphones. 

When it comes, it redefines the place it lands. In fact, it entirely changes it. Before the rain came, this little backyard, was just some outside space, waiting for another day to come. But with its collections of things, so many of them resonant to the tap and patter of the falling drops, the space suddenly transformed, and became full and bright with meaning. 

The canopy and the upturned paint tins. The empty plastic tubs, the wide leafed shrubs, small bushes and the old shed with broken boxes on top. The stack of old planks lent up against the outside wall, beneath a dripping gutter, the exposed patch of concrete paving and the dull wintering grass. And the lone discarded football, kicked into the middle of the lawn. Every thing. Revealed in sound. By falling rain.

127 Mirrored ambiences from a summer meadow at Wrabness

127 Mirrored ambiences from a summer meadow at Wrabness

July 9, 2022

With Wrabness station behind us, the footpath stretched ahead. A warm summer day. Skylarks singing overhead. Sweet scented breezes freshening the clean, optimistic air. 

Soon, a huge expanse of natural uninhabited land was there in front of us, gently sloping down to the estuary water. From here it's nothing more than a silvery slither seen between tall, long established trees.

We stop  by a fenced meadow with a horse in it.  By a bramble bush with a family of resident tweepy birds. Near a strange house that looks like no other. The sense of sheer openness, was so rejuvenating, we felt we just had to try to capture it.

Once fixed to the fence beside the rambling brambles, we left the microphones to capture the landscape, alone. The house, nearby, is called Julie's House. "A house for Essex".  Conceived by the artist Grayson Perry, it's a building that serves not just to shelter and protect it's occupants, but to tell a story to those who pass by.

What do the skylarks make of it though? Who knows. But their singing does light it up. Light up the house's ramped tiles and sound reflective structures, which as the birds wheel over strongly reflect and amplify their songs. What a thing to discover! A house, that's a sound mirror for skylarks, at the edge of an estuary wilderness.

126 The seawall and the night patrolling curlews (quiet, long, sleep safe)

126 The seawall and the night patrolling curlews (quiet, long, sleep safe)

July 2, 2022

To be a remote seawall, on a stretch of tidal estuary. 
To see the days and nights not as periods of time, but as slowly undulating waves.
To feel the weight of water, twice rising, twice falling. 
To hear, the lone patrolling curlews.

To stand, firm. 
To be warmed by the sun, then when it's gone, cooled.
To be dried, then submerged. 
Exposed, then hidden, to thrum with the mindful hummings, of passing ships. 
And still hear them, the  lone patrolling curlews.

To be leaning back, shoulder against the great mass of land, there, beneath the open sky.
To be brushed by its gentle, onshore wind. 
And charmed, by its nudging, soft cusping, whisperings.
To be flooded, and engorged, then washed, slooched, and released, then lapped, and slooped, and washed, and trickled, and left wetted, soaked and cleaned, by the ebbing tidal water.
And all the time, be a fulcrum, on which swing the days and nights, and tides, and weather fronts and seasons, and years and decades, and, centuries?
A fulcrum, and a mirror, flat, back leaning and steadfast, off which the echoes reflect. 
The sparse, echoed callings, of the night patrolling curlews.

 

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This segment of quiet, detailed time comes from an overnight recording we made last summer in Burnham-on-Crouch. The view from the seawall is straight out over the water, towards Wallasea Island. It's about 2am and a very high tide has just receded, leaving the lower section of the seawall sparkling with watery sound. Birds patrol the night sky. To the right of scene the hum can still be heard of the ship that passed (heard in episode 98), and that is now docked about half a mile upstream. 

125 May rain in the Forest of Dean

125 May rain in the Forest of Dean

June 25, 2022

A band of cloud slowly drifts towards a sunlit clearing, deep in the Forest of Dean. It's morning in late May, and the birds are lighting up the space in sound as brightly as the sun. Wrens. Blackcaps. Song thrush. Over the forest floor, tangled vines warm in the heat. High above the approaching clouds, a jet plane softly rumbles by. Perhaps some of its passengers are dreaming of falling rain, in a cool quiet woodland.

We've been scanning for rain, through the 72 hours of audio we recorded last month in the Forest of Dean, because it is always so rejuvenating to listen to.  Falling rain, and the aural ambiences that come before and after it, seem to play to our atavistic instincts. Those ancient, ancestral compulsions that reveal that our thirst for water reaches far beyond the mere act of drinking it.

Here's what the mics we left alone in the forest captured, from the trunk of an old oak tree beside a hidden clearing, as a shower of fresh May rain passes over.

>>Thank you to everyone who donated or bought cards through Ko-fi this week. Every one helps keep Lento on air. 

124 Midnight waves by the sea fort at Weymouth (sleep safe)

124 Midnight waves by the sea fort at Weymouth (sleep safe)

June 18, 2022

We've been struggling to sleep in the heat. To help, if you are having the same trouble, we're sharing another segment of cool and quiet from Nothe Fort, Weymouth. Tied high up in a tree, right beside the fort and with a birds-eye sound-view of the water down below, the microphones captured the unique quietness of this place, through the empty night hours, without anyone about.

Tide low, and on the turn. Out over the sea, sky, pitch black. A whole landscape, in sound, and almost at rest. Lone cars far away, labour the inclines along the coast road.

Surface waves moving, in slowed motion. Swelling, circling, then settling in sympathy to the stone footings of the fort. Painting a picture in crisp clean sound, of its outer shingle boundaries, its under water rock formations. In time, the tide will slowly rise, and a boat, somewhere near, will begin to pull against its moorings. 

123 A sound-view from Orcombe Point on the Jurassic coast

123 A sound-view from Orcombe Point on the Jurassic coast

June 11, 2022

Between the stubby trees, a stony path. Shrubs, unusual grasses. Feeling the climb, and the air. For the first time this year it's warmer than skin. Warm moist and still, like the waft that greets you at the greenhouse door.

Here, high up the hill (though still below  the Geoneedle of Orcombe Point) and looking down from a patch of ground that's formed like a natural balcony. The sea and the crashing waves have melded into a distant pool of steady white noise. Seagulls circle the bright expanse above. Far below, motorbike riders, sandcastle builders, picnicers and their over-excited dogs can be heard enjoying the day, enjoying the place, all mellowed by distance. The balcony position seemed like a good place to record, so we left the mics behind in one of the stubby trees and proceeded up the path to the top. 

Somewhat surprisingly this coastal land is rich with familiar birdsong. Blackcap, chif chaf, robins, great tits, various types of crow, and of course the ever-reassuring cooing wood pigeons. Given the location and the particular fruitiness of their respective callings, maybe we can treat ourselves to a jolly seaside thought. That they, like us, were also here to enjoy the panoramic sound-view of the sea from Orcombe Point.

122 Forest bathing in the cathedral of trees

122 Forest bathing in the cathedral of trees

June 4, 2022

We're really happy to be able to share with you this latest piece of captured quiet, fresh from the Forest of Dean. It's a passage of early evening time, from deep in the forest last Saturday.

If you're new here, Radio Lento is a bit different to other podcasts. It's all about experiencing the sound-feel of natural places. We've put a few tips on how to get the most from it below*.

Each episode presents the authentic sound of time passing from a real place with no interruptions, talking or adverts. It's for anyone wanting something to help clear their head, use in meditation and mindfulness routines. It's also an escape from the noise of daily life - travel through your ears to feel the aural reality of somewhere else.

What you hear on this podcast is produced by panoramic microphones carefully placed in natural places, and left alone to record. We hike out to each location with high spec nature mics, then listen back through the huge chunks of audio to pick out the quietest and richest passages of time. After checking the sound is clean and uninterrupted, we upload the segments as new episodes to the podcast feed.

Radio Lento combines the ideas of nature and immersive listening, with discovering the real sounds of natural places across England and Wales, and presents them in an easily accessible podcast format.

*How to get the most from this podcast:

1. To get the full panoramic detail available in the stereo feed use headphones. Headphones of any type should work, but 'covered ear' designs and those with noise-cancelling will help to reduce external distractions. If you find covered-ear headphones uncomfortable try open-ear design headphones instead which let your ears breathe.

2. The ideal setting for listening is from a comfortable and reasonably still position as each episode is captured from one fixed and steady position. The podcast especially suits those working, reading, resting or doing mindful focusing.

3. Our recordings are taken from natural places and aren't bass-boosted or loudness pumped like other podcasts. Even listening in a quiet place it can take a few minutes for your ears to adjust to the softer sound. But if Radio Lento remains too faint tap up the volume level a few steps. If you listen to a sleep safe episode to get to sleep remember to deactivate your Apps automatic 'play next' option to prevent another podcast starting.

121 On Portland Bill

121 On Portland Bill

May 28, 2022

At the edge of a craggy rock promontory, near the giant lighthouse, there's strong sea wind, and an old rusted crane. Past the collection of weather-beaten fishing huts. Off the footpath. And beyond where the land is safe to walk. 

The view here, of a panoramic sunlit sea, is both wild and precarious. It urges the venturer to resist reaching down to touch the water. Touch and so connect, with whatever the mysterious energy is, that's powering the dance of the deep water waves. Folly, it says. Step back, it says, and rest upon the old rusted crane. Spend a little time here. Half an hour should do it. Use your ears to read the water. Use time. 

The pointed shape of this craggy section of rock steers the incoming swell into natural inlets, to the left, and to the right. Wild water slaps and splatters against the worn stone. Gusting sometimes strongly, the onshore breeze swings a loose part on the crane, somewhere above where the microphones are attached, making a delicate metallic chink. Over time, and from some way out to sea, an ocean going vessel slowly, and benevolently, hums by.

We captured this segment of time near the lighthouse on Portland Bill last month. Cloudy conditions had persisted through the day but by the time we'd found the right location to record the sky had turned to blue and the sun was shining strongly.

120 Secrets in the spring air - inland coastal country

120 Secrets in the spring air - inland coastal country

May 21, 2022

On the footpath from Winchelsea to Rye (the one that goes inland and round in a long loop) we came across a small copse of trees in the corner of a field, by a heavy metal gate. The spot was surrounded on all sides by fields and pastures. The day was starting to get hot, so under the shade we just stood at the gate, to take in the air.

Above the baa-ing of sheep and lambs, and the melodic callings of woodland birds, the trees, tops against the blue sky, were waving slightly in the spring breeze. They stood together, turning the moving air into soft susurating sound. Vague voices seemed to waft from somewhere. Perhaps it was the farm we saw signposted a little further on.

It was the space underneath the trees that possessed the most mesmerising feel. The trees seemed to somehow distil the landscape. We set up the mics, then walked on, to let them capture the quiet alone.

With us gone, they captured the singing birds, and the insect hum. The grazing sheep and lambs, and two propeller planes, high over, with ocean views of the coast. They caught the cracklings of drying twigs amongst the dense leaf litter, and that strange nameless blur that time makes as it passes in a quiet country place. They witnessed a squirrel too, noisily nosing about on dried broken bark and leaves between the trees, and later jumping through the branches. Quietest of all though, and right at the end, they caught the distant passing calls (extreme right of scene) of a cuckoo. 

-- Cuckoos are the most fleeting of England's migrant birds spending only about three weeks here to lay their eggs, before flying back to Africa, They never get to see their chicks, but still the young birds once fledged still manage to follow their parent back to the same place in Africa.

119 Dawn chorus in the rain high in the Derbyshire hills

119 Dawn chorus in the rain high in the Derbyshire hills

May 14, 2022

These are the last woods that an ancient track passes through on its rocky way up onto the flanks of Black Hill, Derbyshire. The last woods to catch the spring rains. Walkers, mountain bikers and horse riders bathe in its rich spacious atmosphere before ascending onto the exposed moorland that lies beyond. But there's nobody about now, it's five o'clock in the morning. Glorious emptiness, filled with spring rain and birds. A world that's all theirs, on Dawn Chorus Day 2022.

The track fords a stream by a broken down gate mid-right of scene. Normally  the stream is an ankle deep torrent but owing to a long dry spell its presence is lighter than usual. The rilling water can still be heard reflected by the countless newly sprouted leaves, that make this wood an intensely green place.

The microphones, recording non-stop all night, are attached to the trunk of a tree. Centre of scene is the exact same spot that Carl Fuchs first cellist of the Halle Orchestra and member of the original Brodsky Quartet, wrote about in his memoires*. Whilst digging in the stream two passing walkers enquired of him whether the water was good to drink. After they'd refreshed themselves he overheard one of them say to the other as they trailed away, how helpful the labourer man had been. To be seen by others as not an eminent musician but as the ordinary man he felt himself to be, proved a significant moment in his life.

So hear, at this same spot where that exchange took place a century ago, how the stream still flows, a hundred springs on. Time passing, in all its ordinariness, in all it's refreshingly uncluttered and restorative ordinariness.

*Musical and other recollections of Carl Fuchs, Cellist. Published 1937, Sherratt and Hughes, St Ann's Press, Manchester. 

118 Lullaby sea by Nothe Fort - sleep safe

118 Lullaby sea by Nothe Fort - sleep safe

May 7, 2022

It's the dead of night. Everything still. A panoramic stillness, stretching for miles, across this coastal Dorset landscape. The tide's in, and without the chivvying warmth of day to energise it, the sea has calmed. Calmed, and reduced, into gentle, lullaby rhythms. 

You can feel it ten yards to the left, the sound mirroring presence of the fort. And sense the drop, just a few steps in front, sixty sheer feet or more, down into the water below. With your elbows wedged onto the top stones, peer out. Not with your eyes, with your ears. Peer into the blackness and imagine yourself as night watch. How long can you go before these slow rocking waves rock you to sleep? 

Don't fight it though. Let yourself instead drift into a state of wakeful rest. An uncluttered form of vigilance, with all attention focused onto the rippling surface of the water. This slowly rocking, lullaby sea is filling and emptying, filling and emptying, in perfect aural detail, along the immense stone footings of this old, long-standing south coast sea fort. 

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Nothe Fort was built by the Victorians to protect Portland Harbour and is well worth a visit. With its ramparts, gun decks and underground maze of tunnels the fort is perched at the edge of open tidal water at Weymouth, on the south coast of England.  Our warm and special thanks go to Radio Lento supporters Caz and Tymn for the creation of this episode. They suggested this location for an all-night record, and helped us set up and take down the kit. We're looking forward to returning to this area to capture more as soon as we can. 

If you are wondering how to say Nothe, people from the fort helpfully told us on Twitter than Nothe rhymes with clothe and mauve.

117 Dartmoor birds through white noise mist

117 Dartmoor birds through white noise mist

April 30, 2022

Captured only a few weeks ago, this sound landscape is from a place where woodland birds sing through a mist of pristine white noise. A place empty of people. Empty of human made noise. And a place that we never thought we'd be able to get to... 

A gorge. On the edge of Dartmoor, where trees thick with velvety moss grow on steep banks, knee deep in foliage. Where a torrent of crystal clear water rushes down through stark craggy rocks. A perfect spot, there to be discovered along a footpath that eventually leads up to the Nine Maidens stone circle, and that winds, and loops around boulders, and that narrows and widens and then narrows again, and that often disappears into outcrops of blunt rocks, until eventually it levels off near a wooden bridge. A bridge that's there and waiting for you to cross from this bird rich bath of white noise, onto the ground that slopes up onto the exposed tops of Dartmoor. We left the microphones behind to capture the rich aural essence of it while we walked on. 

Discovering this remote spot was for us entirely thanks to the recently reopened train service from Exeter to Okehampton. We've made almost every Lento recording on-location and on shank's pony (old speak for travelling on foot, shank meaning leg). We cover the long distances by train and increasingly on rural bus routes. It means almost every location you hear through Radio lento is there for you to get to yourself, and reachable without a car. 

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