Simon Whetham: Ascension_Suspension

During a trip to the Portes du Soleil region of France, Bristol-based field composer Simon Whetham recorded the sounds emitted by cable cars, lulling sounds and rhythms that go largely unnoticed by passengers making the slow ascent to the alpine mountains' upper reaches. To his credit, Whetham lets the 28-minute recording unfold slowly and consequently the listener, aided by an evocative stream of tiny rumbles and chain-like rattles produced by the conveyor and cogs, is easily able to visualize the car's ascent. A vaguely unsettling ambiance creeps in as one imagines the passengers isolated within the tiny enclosure and suspended precariously high over the chasm while freezing winds swirl outside and cowbells clank far below. Though minimal processing was applied to this headphones-styled release, Whetham unobtrusively layers sounds in order to maximize tension and release.

November 2006