Inside No. 9, Episode #16: I am the Auk destined for extinction
This is a selection of songs, field recordings, and vocal samples from voices that bring me comfort and discomfort.
The gate is locked, and I’m exhausted. The mist is settling in around my feet, and the landscape wanes beneath the waxing clouds. Grey is filling my vision as hope slowly evaporates. The way down is steep and treacherous. I feel the dampness beneath my feet start to suck me into the earth below. I take the path of thorns, only to return from whence I came. Mirth seems to have been absorbed through the mist in some sick osmosis. My head spins, and the dark envelopes. I have fought with wind, rain, and terrafirma that seem to want me to fall into the endless violence of the Sea, yet the existential battle is deeply set and ever-present, somehow worse than the real peril. The wind is finally still, but all I reflect is my inner turmoil and utter hopelessness. I fear this is my grave – this undulating landscape of mud and rain and cow shit. My throat is tight with tears of anguish. Male tears. Tears of anger and frustration. This was supposed to be my walk to health. My journey through a ‘happy valley.’ But I chose the cliffs over the hills, and it was wrong. So very wrong. Momentary lapses in the weather afforded me some pleasure. The joy of listening and feeling my environment beyond the voices in my head and the terrible weather. That harsh voice spoke along the journey. It told of heart attacks, dying in a yellow raincoat, lonely and scared in the rain. It spoke of regret and fear. The land holds traces of bones millions of years old. With each crashing wave and hailstone, the landscape makes its way to modernity. These solid echoes reside as flotsam awaiting the eye of an eager Scout or passerby. Cubist rocks litter the dancing ledge as all, but the wind, a bird, and my feet join them on this everchanging sonic plateau. These aren’t seabirds or giant auks of old. A thrush sings and darts bringing forth a glorious treble to the bass of the churning sea. I am the Auk destined for extinction. Stupid, fat, and gullible to the whims of man. There is a human hand at work within the cliff face. Right angles frame black against the ivory rock face like the toothless jaws of a gargantuan ancient face. To put one’s head amongst the outcrop of rocks is to hear the din of the sea tempered by a shield of stone. Never a pillow or a wall, but a crystal shard to the heavens – unique and beautiful. The sound is quiet. The ground is still, unchanged by the epic force of the raging waves. Is that a sparrow? So dainty amongst the crags and rocks, a dancer over a city of angular boulders. I wait for three minutes as my sound recorder captures what I cannot. Three minutes is a minuscule slither of this landscape and not even worth taking, like carving a shard from an iceberg. Yet to me, it is everything. A record of a painful walk over dangerous ground, only to find peace in an outlet of millions of years of erosion. I am a pimple on the landscape, ready to burst and dissolve without a trace – washed away by water, not even worthy of foam. I pick up the sound recorder and make my way further into a voyage that keeps trying my resolve itself. The cows beat me to my journey’s end. They look upon me with fear and trepidation. I have followed their tracks to find my path to its terminus. I move firmly to avoid confrontation, never stepping between the calf and her mother. The path is right. The end is within sight. I climb the stairs, and in exhaustion, I ponder the landscape. Once a vision of hope. Now a trap. Age has finally caught up with me. My body is in decay, and I have no words. Just raw emotion and a deep sense of despair.
The pie and pint of local beer were welcome after my walk. The taste of sustenance and sanctuary is so very clear.
Here is a selection of songs I needed once I walked the additional 5 miles (and a bus journey) back to my hotel in the rain. A reflection with a sense of calm returns to somewhere better. Here are some voices that bring me peace, wisdom, and fear, along with sounds from this walk of walks.
“Many that live deserve death. Some that die deserve life.”
[Introduction – Swanage Beach with Paul Daneman]
Our Bodies Stirred These Waters Briefly
Giving Water To The Dead cassette on The Tapeworm
[Interlude I – Dancing ledge with Philip Madoc]
Stone in Focus
SAW digital remaster on Warp
[Interlude II – Flood defense with Derek Jacobi]
Streetlands 12” on Hyperdub
[Instrelude III – Worth Meadow with Peter Falk]
Like Hearts Swelling
Like Hearts Swelling LP on Constellation
[Interlude IV – Cliff littered with fossils with Sidney Poitier]
The Disintegration Loops 1.1
The Disintegration Loops CD on 2062
[Interlude V – Mossy tree with Charles Bukowski]
Alone Inside The Walls Of Night I
William Fowler Collins
Alone Inside The Walls Of Night cassette on The Tapeworm
[Interlude VI – Night Walk on the Jurassic Coast with Bertrand Russell]
Requiem for Dying Mothers Pt. 1 & 2
Stars of the Lid
The Tired Sounds of… double LP on Kranky
[Interlude VII – Angry Boomers with Jennifer Gay]
Ascend (an ending)
Apollo CD on Polydor
[Interlude VIII – Durlston Castle with Lars Rudolph]
Rain in England CD in Weird Forest
[Outro – Lost and Walking Through Mud with J. Robert Oppenheimer]
Inside No. 9 is an attempt to share unique narratives through the mixing of 9 songs. Every episode will showcase a new theme, opening up new tributaries of discovery. Inside No. 9 is presented by Peter Taylor, a former features writer for Foxy Digitalis from back in the late 2000s. Peter is a visual artist and musician and has been creating music as MAbH since 2008.