Radio Lento podcast
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. 

116 Sissing plantations in open country

116 Sissing plantations in open country

April 23, 2022

Stopped in our tracks some way along the path from Althorne to North Fambridge, by a sound. Plantations swaying in a gentle wind. The brightness. The softness. And a sound that comes in waves. Siffing, then sissing, then siffing again. Above, on warming thermals, skylarks circle and sing. Beyond, in the far distance, geese and other wild birds call.

But these are last year's crops, one of us says, into the unfamiliar warmth of a new spring breeze. Still there? Yes, unusually still there, and still making their own particular sound. A mile-wide sea of dry, wind waivering plants. As the breeze eases, the siffing and sissing subsides into darker tones. Shifting shadows, of last year's golden hues.

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We made this 25minute sound photograph of this wild wide open place last weekend on another walk along the River Crouch, this time going from Althorne to Fambridge. Farm machinery can sometimes be heard along with the distant activity of the residents of Althorne (extreme right) a remote hamlet in Essex and home of the Bridgemarsh Marina (episode 36).

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Thanks for listening. If you'd like to support Radio Lento, please buy us a coffee or set up a monthly subscription via our >Ko-fi site<

115 Coastal city sleeping (sleep safe)

115 Coastal city sleeping (sleep safe)

April 16, 2022

What makes that city noise at night? That strangely non-descript hum. That audible presence that seems to be made of nothing and everything, and comes from nowhere and everywhere, and that is so familiar to us city dwellers. Its origin is uncertain. Probably impossible to pin down. City hum does not exist outside of cities though, so that at least explains something. Perhaps that's its charm. That city hum can't be explained. And so why, like other things that cannot be fully explained, it seems to possess some very valuable properties. Especially to those seeking rest.

At night, city hum with its endless lulling flow, seeps in through every window open. Every door ajar. Aural balm, for tired minds. And it greets the garden wonderer, come out to look for stars, with a soft inky black message, that says, welcome, to the night. Welcome, to these tawny roosted hours, watched over by owls. To this other version of the same world, where light shrinks to speckled dots, and all that is, all that is anything, is there to be seen through listening. City hum ebbs and flows. Echoes with night birds, and susurates between countless details across landscape forms. Listening into it, really listening to hear into its depths, can be like counting sheep. Soft city sheep, come to help you listen, come to help you sleep.
 
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This is a section of an all night recording we made in Exeter a few days ago. It's in the back garden of a house from 1am. It captures the stillness of the city and two tawny owls against a backdrop of dreamy sounding seagulls. Exeter is in Devon, in the South West of England.

114 Crashing waves at Durdle Door

114 Crashing waves at Durdle Door

April 9, 2022

It's when you've been listening to it for a while, within the gravitational pull of this immense rock promontory, that it starts to make sense. The language of the crashing waves. And how each wave, as it arrives onto the shingle shore, has its own way.

Everything that a wave has to say about its long journey over the sea, has to be said upon the moment it lands on the shore. Within those few moments. Those few, tumultuous moments. A whole story in sound. All that it says though is tumbled out through noise. And all jumbled up too, if heard in land time.

To hear, properly, what each wave has to say, you have to attune your mind to sea time. Time, as it is in the liquid world. Time that surges and curls and folds and leaps and fizzes into bright white air. Listen forwards, and left and right, and into the near distance, and into the deep distance, and all at the same time. And it'll make sense. What each wave has to say, will be there. Will effortlessly unfurl in front of you. Each wave. Each arriving, with its own, unjumbled story.

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We made this recording last Thursday on the shingle beach looking out onto the stack and arch of Durdle Door on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset, England. The name we use today for it dates back over a thousand years, when these crashing waves would have sounded exactly the same.

113 Spring’s here in mild valley

113 Spring’s here in mild valley

April 2, 2022

Sheltered against the gnarled trunk of an old holly tree, beside a country lane, the microphones are recording. Or maybe to them, they are looking. Looking out, as they have done for hours, at this mild valley, in sound. 

From this tree, the valley stretches far and wide. In front is a wide field. It slopes gently down and meets a stony rushing stream. Beyond, and up again across another field, is a farmhouse, partly hidden beneath tall winter worn trees. To the left of the scene, the stream passes into a ravine. Its steep sides reflect and amplify the soft white noise of the flowing water. To the right, animals graze on upland pastures. 

Here, is up in the Derbyshire hills. A place, that to us city dwellers, may feel like a place to retreat. But this is not all that it is. By visiting it, even through headphones and a bit of time, the meaning of this landscape can be observed, read and understood. The patterns of the wind in the tree. The ways the birds communicate, come and go. The distant murmurs of animals. Things that are heard best, when there is no human presence to interfere. This segment ends with the panoramic sound of passing geese as they fly along the course of the stream to reach the reservoir beyond, where they spend the day. 

112 Suffolk Wood (part 12) - 7am to 8am

112 Suffolk Wood (part 12) - 7am to 8am

March 26, 2022

Radio Lento is 2! Thank you for listening, for supporting, and for the many kind messages. It all started here, in this Suffolk Wood. So to celebrate we return, to hear how time passes within the wood between 7am and 8am. This is episode 112, and the twelfth part of the Suffolk Wood series. It's the penultimate one, with just one more hour from special location to come.

It's been and continues to be an absolute pleasure to share the aural records of time passing in many different places, and particularly from this wood, hour to hour, and in all its three dimensional and unedited form. The authentic sound of the landscape unfolding is what Radio Lento is all about.

Radio Lento remains a free service providing real sound landscapes in high definition long-form sound. Every recording is made on-location by us and using our own customised equipment. Our approach to sound recording is to intervene as little as possible during the recording and post-production process, leaving the microphones to record alone, so what comes through your headphones is true, like physically being there in that place yourself. It's all based on our thinking that, in this overly designed overly edited speeded-up view of the world, that a free and flowing source giving people the chance to, in solitude, experience time passing in the landscape, is probably now more important than ever.

If you can and you are able to >>make a small donation to help us cover the costs of production we'd be extremely grateful. 

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