Cold shoulder. SIMON WHETHAM
(Audio Gourmet 2011)
Simon Whetham’s cover photograph for Cold Shoulder depicts an unwelcoming, angular architecture of inhuman metal girders and dead trees. A marginal world at the city’s edge, engaged in manufacture and industry by day, quietly corroding in its own toxic presence by night.
Documenting the slowly expanding metal surfaces and the subtly altering contours of rust, a resonance hovers behind these audio works. Whetham places our ears against deep iron cylinders and asks us to listen as distant objects cool down and exhale. A slow exhalation that takes all night.
In the morning the workers will return again, cars will fill the empty asphalt spaces and machines will be coaxed back into life. Until then the environment composes its own nocturnal lament and sings it to no one. To hear this we are privileged.
All sound composition is of course a matter of choice. How to select and frame an event on a background of grey. How best to scatter minute flecks across a canvas of furnace rumble.Yet it is also a matter of sensitivity. Of being aware of changes and ghosts. And they do exist, moving in the labyrinth in the pipework and empty buildings.
Track one begins with streaming rain, but it does not cleanse. It disappears, allows a brief respite and then returns again before being curtailed abruptly. A metaphor for these tarnished hinterlands. Although this was recorded at St Philip’s, Bristol where Simon Whetham lived for four months, it could just as easily have been Leeds, Sheffield or Salford. Or Dusseldorf. Or China…