Lee Patterson | Soundings: Late Summer at Knowetop Lochs | Micro Commission August – November 2023 | Knowetop Loch Nature Reserve
Soundings: Late Summer at Knowetop Lochs
Soundings: Late Summer at Knowetop Lochs explores the airborne sounds of human traffic, wind, insects and birds, and then shifts to the underwater sound of the lochs, ending with the chorus and enigmatic calls of the hidden creatures who make their seasonal homes inside the vegetation of this place.
At Knowetop Lochs Nature Reserve lies a wealth of unheard and quiet voices/sounds concealed in and around the grasses, mosses, trees, and watery places.
Curious to discover the discrete, even inaudible sounds of life within a peat bog, Peatland Connections invited sound artist Lee Patterson to bring his ears, mics, and sonic expertise to ‘eavesdrop’ upon bugs and other insects, aquatic life, and the plants that inhabit this wetland landscape. Within the plants and below the wet surfaces, Lee discovered soundings of bugs communicating through bodily movements, the breathing and gasses exchange of underwater life, and plant and root vibrations: life and sounds all beyond our natural human hearing.
Lee’s initial raw recordings were played over breakfast to those who came to our second peatland moth event: Moths and More, August 2022 – the ‘more’ being life out of earshot.
Lee spent numerous days at Knowtop Loch in the late summer of 2022, recording that which we cannot normally hear, revealing a hidden world of life and connectivity. With the living sound patterns in the air and in a wetland world, Lee composed: Soundings: late Summer at Knowetop Lochs.
Interwoven and evolving together, Lee’s field recording informs his live work and vice versa. They co-exist within a singular sound art practice that, with the possibilities of current recording technologies coupled with open ears, a sense of play and curiosity, reveal, for example:
an invertebrate internet where hidden insects call by resonating plants from within.
Soundings: Late Summer at Knowetop Lochs was premiered, at The Smiddy, Balmaclellan, Thursday 17th November 2022, and revealed, to a live audience, this unseen and rarely heard symbiotic interaction.
At the premier Lee performed live, improvising with complex sounds hidden within natural and everyday materials from rock chalk to springs, from burning nuts to aquatic plants and peat.
Soundings: Late Summer at Knowetop Lochs premier and Live Performance. Lee Patterson. The Smiddy, Balmaclellan, Nov 2023.
Reflecting on his Peatland Connections residence at Knowetop Nature Reserve, Lee writes:
Across just a few days in late August 2022, Knowetop Lochs affected a profound transformation in my awareness of the sounds to be encountered in peatland vegetation. So much so in fact, that the previously agreed one day on the site become 3 or 4 and even that offered only the slightest aural glimpse of what may be happening across the nature reserve.
After previous experience upon peatland sites across Scotland and Northern England, I expected to encounter sounds from bog pools and the hydrology of peat itself, my recordings instead revealed the songs and calls of insects and their larvae as they sounded within and on the vegetation found there.
From several unidentifiable creatures within tall reeds and Meadowsweet to the surprising, machine-like drumming of Grass Bugs (Stenodema species or similar) as they wandered up and down grass stems back to the bizarre and compelling chorus of unseen creatures within tussocks of rush, my understanding of the micro soundscape within vegetation was wildly expanded.