Radio Lento podcast
144 Garden beside meadow in the Derbyshire hills

144 Garden beside meadow in the Derbyshire hills

December 3, 2022

High in the Derbyshire hills, a century-old garden is being blown dry by brisk morning air. It's quiet. Sheltered. Surrounded by strong gritstone walls and tall trees. Over the lower wall is a perfect view. A steep hummocky meadow, and beyond, the vast deep space created by a wide vibrantly green Derbyshire valley. 

Birds, to whom the garden is home, fleetingly sing, and call. Some flutter right past the lone recording microphones that are tied to a wooden frame. The frame sometimes shifts in the wind and creaks as it so weatherworn and heavily laden with climbing plants. 

The sound scene is delicately soft and spatial. Like gently billowing fabrics. Hear-able fabrics, made of breezes that rise and settle, and flow from side to side. Hissing textures from the nearby foliage, murmuring and hushing tones from the neighbouring trees. 

The meadow beside the garden is scattered with grazing sheep, and the odd roaming chicken. When sometimes the warm sun peeks through the gaps in the cloud, wood pigeons coo. Aural sunbeams, in a peaceful, moorland garden. 

143 Lullaby waves by Nothe Sea Fort (sleep safe)

143 Lullaby waves by Nothe Sea Fort (sleep safe)

November 26, 2022

Peering out from atop the high seawall of Nothe Fort. Two o'clock in the morning. High tide, and the sea below feels so near. Overhead the sky is faintly luminous. But is dense black, out over the sea. Even blacker out over the invisible presence of Portland, somewhere over to the right.

Hearing the night's velvet silence, rippled by slow moving, crisp edged waves. Crisp edged, watery waves, that sound like shapes. Ocean swells, that fill the spaces between the submerged rocks. Sway the empty moored boats. Are these waves just normal waves? Or have they come here, to Nothe Fort, for a reason?

Notice how they hang around, at the foot of the fort's huge parapet wall. How, in graceful arching circles, they seem to come, but not really go. Come, and join other waves already arrived, to combine, and elaborate, and form new, even more graceful watery shapes. Watery shapes, that swirl in the dead of night around the ancient stone footings of Nothe Fort. 

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This is the third episode from our night recording from the Fort. Listen to episode 124 and episode 118 for more from this wonderfully peaceful place.  

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Big Lento thanks to Exploration Project on Twitter who kindly found a perfect photo of sea at night we could use in this episode to illustrate it. Thank you!  

142 All aboard the Night Riviera (source of dark brown soporific noise)

142 All aboard the Night Riviera (source of dark brown soporific noise)

November 20, 2022

It's gone dark. It's 21:15. And you're standing on platform 1 of the railway station in Penzance. Bright lamps light the long platforms, and seaside smells waft in the air. Wheely bag at your side, you're waiting to board the legendary Night Riviera. A long, impressive line of carriages hiding stylish cabins and bunks within. Departing Penzance 21:45. Arriving London Paddington 05:04. Far away at the front of the train thrums a Class 57 locomotive. It's charging the air with a subsonic, deep brown hum. 

As you wait, a motorbike speeds along the road behind the station. It makes an arc of wide reverberant sound. You listen to its drone stretching away. Then, to the luscious spacious echoings, of this tranquil, end-of-the-line Cornish railway station, after dark.

Suddenly a handful of people are discreetly hurrying up the platform. Passing by humming coaches, pulling down cold metal handles and heaving open doors. Climbing and lifting bags aboard. And being introduced by smart uniformed stewards to the cabins. Each is equipped with two neat bunks, the slimmest of slimline wardrobes, and an interestingly shaped bulbous sink with a lid that doubles up as a shelf. You unpack your bed things, then return to the vestibule to witness the moment the Night Riviera sets off. A nocturnal journey across Cornwall, over the Tamar bridge, along the Jurassic coast and through the long stretch of Wiltshire and Somerset.

As the train pulls off, you can just make out the wild sea, the crashing waves, and a dark shadow that is St Michael's Mount.

Swaying carriages, knocking rails, squeaking suspension and steel wheels rolling along miles of steel rails. 

Now it's time to make your way back to your cabin. Head down the shoulder-width corridor lined with smart panel doors. With a sturdy slam enter the cabin and notice the change in sound! The velvety quietness is almost deafening. Like falling into a soft duvet! Climb into pyjamas. Lift lid of bulbous sink, and brush teeth. Roll into bunk bed, set alarm, adjust covers, and, sleep? 

The aural experience of being in a bunk on a sleeper train is completely spellbinding to us, which is of course why we wanted so much to make and share this recording. The thumps and clunks. The squeaks and bangs. The dull thudding as people walk along the corridor outside. The thrum of the rails. The whine of the electrics and the locomotive, as it pulls you through the night. It's enchanting. It's aural poetry. Rich, soporific sounds, that meld together in rocking rhythms. Dark, brown, cushioning noise, that sends some off to sleep. Others may find themselves held in a deliciously mesmerising doze, a state of semi-conscious slumber. What is even more special, is when the train calls at a station along the way. Gradually slowing. Then gently stopping, with doors distantly slamming, and people muffledly boarding. Then, with a steady sumptuous rising tone, the locomotive powers up again, to haul you and the new passengers onwards, over the rails, and into the night.

141 Soft land murmuring - Wooler, Northumberland

141 Soft land murmuring - Wooler, Northumberland

November 12, 2022

An exposed tree, looking down upon the town of Wooler, high in the Northumberland hills. It stands amidst wide open fields, by an empty bench and an overgrown footpath. It stands. And it feels the time passing, through the slow undulations of the wind.

Bright cloudful skies. Rain expected. Then out across the valley the bell strikes. Reverberantly. Five shining tones to tell the sleeping town of Wooler that this is the fifth hour of this new, Northumbrian day. Two tiny birds leap to attention, from their hidden places inside the tree.

The soundview of this wide panoramic landscape changes with the wind. Tawny treetop owls. Sheep. Cawing rooks. Flocks of chattering jackdaws. Wood pigeons, cooing comfortably from their lofty roosts. Then as the wind gathers strength, the soundview shifts to the interior space within the tree. To the hushing currents of moving air pressing through its dense and complex branch structures. To the light countless flutterings of its small, crisp edged leaves. Soft undulating murmurings, of the land that is Northumberland.

140 Fishing village harbour at night (sleep safe)

140 Fishing village harbour at night (sleep safe)

November 5, 2022

This is real quiet from the middle of the night, captured from a point above the harbour of St Abbs on the East Coast of Scotland. Car-free. Plane-free. Just the sparse and spacious cries of circling gulls, and the faintest hum of a fishing vessel anchored somewhere out at sea.

This remote, thousand-year-old fishing village is to us a place defined by its quiet horizons. Its single country road and empty panoramic plane-less skies. Where the lack of human-made noise means you hear the sound-feel of the place itself.

This 'sound landscape' is produced in keeping with the natural experience, so through headphones you can feel the real place through your ears. Hear the sea-washed piers and jetties of St Abbs, captured in 'one take' by our high spec wide angle microphones, recording on-location and alone.

* We often travel long distances to capture the quiet we share in our weekly sound landscapes. Each episode is unique, fully authentic, highly spatial and sonically detailed. Genuine peace and quiet is endlessly fascinating to us, as well as refreshing and rejuvenating. Hearing the sound world around us without talking over it, or adding music, loops or effects, is the reason Radio Lento exists! If you can please **support us on Ko-fi** or by give us positive reviews wherever you get the podcast. Thank you. 

139 Old rafters brewing storm

139 Old rafters brewing storm

October 29, 2022

At the top of the old Victorian house are several flights of dim, dark stairs. Steep. Narrow. Cold. They lead up to a pair of rarely used attic rooms. As you climb, you feel the dust on the banisters. The threadbare carpets. The loose, unsteady floorboards.

A small landing greets you at the top, with a single empty chair that's facing the wall. And two doors. The first opens into a small box room. It's full with shadows, and stacks of long forgotten things.

Between the boxes, pushed against the far wall, beneath a tiny blurry window, is a slanted wooden form. A child sized school desk, with a lifting lid and a round hole for an ink pot.

This little desk, behind the boxes and the shadows of the attic box room, feels like a place far away. a place that's good for sitting, and listening. To the wind rumbling in the chimneys. To the gusts that moan through the tiles and rafters. The resonations inside the roof voids. All the strange and eerie sounds of a brewing storm, from an attic room at the very top of an old Victorian house.

138 Ocean peace above Folkestone beach (sleep safe)

138 Ocean peace above Folkestone beach (sleep safe)

October 22, 2022

Dusk gathering, we found a stony path, and followed it. Microphones still in the rucksack. It'd been a long day, and we still hadn't found the right place to record. Time. Night approaching. 

Two pairs of feet dislodging loose stones. Passing through thick stubby trees, and winding steeply. Then suddenly we're there! There, exposed, and looking out over a panoramic, coastal landscape. Breathing. Soft, warm, silky August air.

Still, and standing, to listen, by a hedgerow. By a hedgerow with a hawthorn tree with a strong sturdy trunk. Thorny but perfect to hold the mics. Then tying up the mics with hands catching on thorns, before leaving, to let them record alone. Alone. And through the night.

Rising thermals, from far below carry up the ocean's murmurings. Its undulating white noises. Its timeless surging waves. Its sandy shoreline flows. And long after we're gone a dark bush cricket comes. Comes to be beside the hawthorn tree. Comes to mark the time, passing. 

137 Night rains amongst moorland trees (sleep safe)

137 Night rains amongst moorland trees (sleep safe)

October 15, 2022

Up a soily slope, almost too steep to climb, nestled in against the smooth trunk of a tree, the microphones are recording. Recording the sound of solitude. 

Dry inside their weatherproof box. Listening, carefully. Witnessing, faithfully, the moments of passing time. The tip taps of raindrops. The gently surging currents of moving air. And as the movement calms, the undulating views of the nocturnal landscape beyond is heard.

This is a place where the trees live. A remote place, where nobody goes.  Steep soily ground that looks down over a hidden valley.  From afar it looks like just another shadow, along the moor.

136 Curling folding breaking waves (high-definition sound and sleep safe)

136 Curling folding breaking waves (high-definition sound and sleep safe)

October 8, 2022

Wide silent sky. Still warm air. Having followed a country footpath across miles of open farmland you reach a stony bank and, like a natural magic trick, it leads you down onto a deserted, shingle beach, animated with its own soft crashing waves.

Nobody's about. Really, nobody. It's a stretch of beach between Rye Harbour and Winchelsea that's somehow, perhaps for you, kept itself perfectly deserted. It's the sort of place you've been longing for. Now all you need is time. 

You find yourself scanning the horizon. Surely somebody must be about on this warm October Sunday. Layered shingle berms stretch out to the left. Pristine water out ahead. A heavily laden timbered groyne to the right, bearing all the weight of the longshore drift. There is really no one here. Except for a distant calling seabird.
 
Scrunching forward, and a few yards from the wetted shoreline, you find a patch of shingle, fold your coat, and sit down to listen to the waves. They're so close, and yet so soft. So full and detailed, as they curl, and fold, and crash onto the beach. Soft crashing. And soft sifting textures, of shifting shingle. You wonder about time. If it's been five minutes, or ten. But your hands are resting now, feeling the cool stones. There really is no need to check. No need to move. 

135 A natural sound report from the Forest of Dean

135 A natural sound report from the Forest of Dean

October 1, 2022

This is a segment of time from a clearing deep in the Forest of Dean. Echoing birds in full voice. Soft hushing breezes in high treetops. Then, over time, a band of fresh summer rain, falling in rich spatial detail over countless broad-leaved trees. It's a natural environment. The sort of place people travel to, to get away from it all. To get a dose of green health, because it ticks all the boxes. It's remote. Proper countryside. Far away from major roads and industrialised, built-up areas. So, a place where unnatural noise should be almost non-existent.  

To get here we travelled several hundred miles by train with our audio equipment, staying in the Gloucestershire town of Lydney. We covered the last five miles on foot. We found the same tree we recorded from back in 2019 and set our mics beside it to record on their longest mission so far. 

Hooked up to a huge battery, we left them alone to record non-stop over a four-day period. We imagined how we'd capture the sounds of woodcock on their twilight roding flights. Owls hooting in the dead of night. Brilliantly songful dawn choruses. Hours of pure birdsong in the warm daylight. All pure and free of human-made noise. 

We have managed to capture these amazing sounds, but what's also revealed is just how much human-made noise there is too. We've not been able to find natural daytime quiet lasting for more than about 15 minutes. From aircraft to the exhaust sounds of motorbikes and other motor transport, the sound-feel of the forest is strongly shaped by unnatural things.

The natural environment is recognised as vitally important to our health and wellbeing, but it's highly permeable to unnatural noise which can carry over many miles. 

Its effect on the experience of being within nature can be heard in this episode, particularly over the first five minutes. It shows how just one passing motorbike becomes the main sound feature of the forest for a significant portion of time. How the number of journeys that people make, in that area and the design of the machines they use, combine over time to interrupt and break up the forest's own natural sound presence.

134 Night waves rolling onto Coldingham Sands (sleep safe)

134 Night waves rolling onto Coldingham Sands (sleep safe)

September 24, 2022

Up steep steps from the sandy beach, and a birds-ear view of ocean breakers from a thicket, perched half-way up the cliff. Several hours to go before low tide. Directly ahead slow rolling waves, breaking over outcrops of large craggy rocks. 

It's the dead of night, here on Coldingham Sands. An empty, uninhabited land, under a sky of almost astronomical darkness. An area of land mostly free of human things. Quiet, enough to hear the rumbling undersides of the breaking waves. Time. Gradually shifting contours, as the tideline recedes.

We captured this natural aural landscape and all its uninterrupted spatialness last month near St Abbs in Scotland. As we walked the cliff path to set up the equipment late the previous evening, the silence in the sky was the thing that struck us most. It created a palpable, almost velvety sensation in us. This sense of silence is not, as we've discovered, a purely aural experience. It's something that seems to be felt rather than heard, although it does come from what is heard. Microphones can't record silence, they can only capture actual vibrations, and silence is the absence of vibrations. What's come out from this particular sound recording expedition though, is a very precise sound-picture of the shapes, over time, that waves make as they first roll onto the rocky margins of land. Silence is for sound recording like good light is for photography, the more there is, the greater the detail that is captured in the picture.

133 Vivid rain - rolling thunder (very spatial experience with headphones)

133 Vivid rain - rolling thunder (very spatial experience with headphones)

September 17, 2022

A rare night amongst nights. A dark landscape, subdued, beneath immense and invisible storm clouds. It's just past eleven thirty on Monday the fifth of September 2022. The kitchen was in darkness. The light was off. But the little door leading into the small garden beyond was open. We'd left it open, because there was this palpable sense that an event was about to happen. Though strangely peaceful outside, and still, the rain had begun to fall. There was electricity, in the air. And subsonic rumbles, from afar, that sent the thin metal oven tray drying on the hob into faint, buzzing vibrations. 

Over only a few minutes, the rain became heavier. And heavier again. That warm drenching kind of rain, that tumbles rather than falls out of late summer skies, and suddenly abates. It cascaded onto hurriedly covered garden things. Poured in rivulets and sung as it sank down through the hollowness of the drains. Holding high the microphone box, we silently glided around, angling it straight up into the sky, and hoping, to catch the thunder. Powerful flashes came. Cavernous rumbles followed. Sounds that rolled, like unimaginably huge boulders across the immensity of the sky. Sheet lightening, superheating the air, causing it to explode in acoustic shockwaves. A natural phenomenon, that like few other experiences, lets us see through our ears the true dimensions of the heavens above. 

* Listen out for the umbrella that we quietly guide over the equipment towards the end. The amount of water falling directly onto the box meant we had to do it!

* We are able to keep capturing sound landscapes like this and bring them to a public audience with no upfront cost thanks to everyone who donates to Radio Lento. Every pound is put towards the costs of maintaining the recording and production equipment, travelling out to locations, and digital distribution. We don't get any payment each time the podcast is downloaded, even though some distributors stream our material to listeners who are paying them, as well as us paying to get the podcast available on their platform. Thank you for each donation, and thanks to everyone for listening. The more downloads we get the greater the chance we might be able to attract ad-free and sustainable sponsors.

132 A bird watcher’s outpost beneath the telegraph wires

132 A bird watcher’s outpost beneath the telegraph wires

September 10, 2022

Warm sunlit afternoon. Late August. On the nature reserve at Mucking, beside the Thames in Essex. A bird hide. Perched on a steep bank amongst reeds, looking out on a strip of newly exposed mud. Tide falling. Water receding. Soon, when enough mud is exposed, maybe the curlew will come.

"Listen" a voice says. From inside the bird hide. Though empty, someone is there. Between the bright of the slot windows, within the shadow, there's a figure, of an old man. Not creaking its timber floorboards, he moves towards the threshold, but then stops. "Can you hear it?" He asks, in a soft brown tone. A curl of smoke from his pipe wafts on the breeze.

Softly washing tidal water. Breezes rustling in tall reeds. A cricket, there but barely perceptible, hiding somewhere. Basking in the sun. This place, beside the bird hide, though near habitation, feels beyond civilisation. On the edge of something else. Like an outpost. But what can the old man mean? A single drifting seagull. Faint noises of the bankside industry. Or is it that nearby clink, of loose metal on stone?

"It's all around," he says, slowly raising his arms as if to fly away. "In the all around". Subtle. There, and not there. A low, undulating hum. A slow, quavering tone. What is it? The old man smiles. "They say it's the wind in the telegraph wires". Then backs, and disappears into the shadows inside the bird hide. As if in reply the sound rises, and falls. Rises, and falls again. Marking the quiet. Marking the time. "It's just the voice, of the wind".

* We recorded this piece of captured quiet on the almost completely deserted nature reserve at Mucking on one of the last days in August. The wind in the telegraph wires is subtle, and worth finding a pair of headphones and a quiet place to listen. At about 29 minutes the curlews do come. We still can't work out what is making the occasional chinking noise. There was nobody at all about. Someone (not any of us) does walk along the path next to the bird hide near the end.

131 A thousand years along the Creel Path

131 A thousand years along the Creel Path

September 3, 2022

A straight and stony path heads through open country, towards the sea. Beside the track, amongst land in-between, a tree. Lone and leafy. Like a sentry. Exposed and standing. It watches the sea birds. Hears their wide and freeing calls. Feels summer gusts of salty air. And listens, to a distant thrum. A vessel. At sea. Slowly passing.  

It's daytime. Rain clouds are moving overhead. Loose stones lie along the narrow track, wettening, and darkening, and waiting, for the first feet of the day. In the hedgerow, the tall grasses wave on the edge of golden fields with sculptured hay bales resting. Sheep graze. Jackdaws fly, against a slender band of ocean grey. Time passes. From within the tree, raindrops are landing amongst broad green leaves. 

This is how the world sounds from the Creel Path, a track that runs from Coldingham to St Abbs on the east coast of Scotland. The route has a history going back a thousand years. In bygone times, fishermen used it to trudge to their gruelling work. We left the microphones alone to record in the only useful tree we could find on this stretch of the path. It looked out towards the sea, about a quarter of a mile away. The same view for 1000 years. 

Daydream 4 - water rain wind

Daydream 4 - water rain wind

August 27, 2022

Children play on a soft sandy beach by the Essex Wildlife Trust nature reserve at Stanford-le-Hope. When the tide goes out, this amazing hidden beach is revealed. Water laps. Families bask in the sun. Distant engines of passing marine vessels thrum the air. It's hard to believe that this is reclaimed, re-wilded industrial land.

As east as you can go, deep amongst the sedge grass on Wallasea Island the temperature climbs above 30 degrees. Insects busy and buzz on hot rising thermals. Warm wind whirls and whisps. Here, below the footpath, near an inlet brimming with water, a pocket of perfect summer quiet simmers in the heat haze.

Low tide on an empty shingle beach near Felixstowe Ferry, with the waves rolling in. The sun is high in the sky, shining almost directly down onto a calm North Sea. Blue sky. Nobody about. Far away on the horizon you see a container ship is about to disappear over the horizon. Time just to stand, and imagine where it might be going, and enjoy the spatial sound of waves advancing and retreating around your feet.

In-land now. Rain. Heavy rain. Persistent rain. When a gloriously refreshing soundscape comes to you, and begins to land all about. All about your home, the space around your home, and the streets and gardens nearby. Millions and millions of tiny percussive drops, falling, and landing, from invisible high up clouds. Each drop ends its long downward journey, on top of an upturned plant pot. An old paint tin. A concrete paving stone. A tarpaulin stretched over a little back yard. And there it is. Bliss! 

Free moorland wind gusts through the branches of an old, lone oak tree. It stands tall, in the corner of a windswept field, beside a gritstone wall and a metal gate, that chinks, and an ancient footpath. A Peak District tree, with wide reaching bows laden with wind catching leaves. How many storms has this tree survived? How many droughts? How many days of grey? And of bright afternoon sun, like this one, where country walkers pass from time to time. This is the unique sound that this tree makes, high on a hill above the railway line between Chinley and Edale, Derbyshire.

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Don't forget that from next Saturday we're back to our normal service posting up a new and unique piece of captured quiet every week.

For now here's where to listen to the full episodes from this final daydream:

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