Shenzhen is calling

I’ll be heading back to China soon to perform the music I created for the Musicity project. Just found this footage of driving through Shenzhen after a long day of recording with my new friend and sound artist/musician/promoter/hardest working artist in China, Dickson Dee.

Shanghai 1933 Soundwalk

One of the buildings that I created music for as part of the Musicity project, was the Shanghai Slaughterhouse, 1933. This pre brutalist brutal building was designed to expedite the killing of animals to provide meat for Shanghai’s residents. It is now a space for shops, galleries, restaurants and a theatre, but the history is hard to shift, as the design is so striking it makes it impossible to forget its intended purpose.

I spent a couple of days at 1933, recording sounds to use in my piece of music (which is now finished and will be shared soon) but I’d forgotten I also recorded a sort of guided walk during one of Shanghai’s famous downpours. It was interesting to listen back to myself (and also weird) trying to navigate the maze of passages and bridges whilst taking in everything in the space. I’m sharing this as a personal audio journal/sound walk. It isn’t a definitive audio guide.


Shenzhen Electronics Markets

The electronics markets in Shenzhen are famous. It's easy to assume they are full of fake iPhones and other brands, but there is much more to Shenzhen than that. Shenzhen is the place to go if you are designing new technology, because you can get prototypes built in a fraction of the time it takes anywhere else. You can also buy pretty much any electronic component you can think of. 

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I spent two hours exploring 7 floors of electronics, using my LOM Elektrosluch electromagnetic microphone to record the hidden sounds that the circuits, LEDs, components and gadgets emit. The LEDs in particular were a rich vein of sounds; the colours, patterns and movements creating a beautiful minimal techno album 12 hours a day, hidden from human ears. Recordings coming soon. 

Musicity China

I've just returned from a truly inspiring trip to China where I've been gathering field recordings and researching buildings for the latest Musicity project. Nick Luscombe (BBC Radio 3) with the support of the British Council, has commissioned a group of artists from the UK and China to create pieces of music for buildings and structures in Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen.

I spent 5 days each in Shenzhen and Shanghai recording with traditional microphones, contact microphones and electromagnetic microphones - Huge factory silos with beautiful reverb, 7 story electronic markets, Maglev Trains, Power Stations and much more! I'm currently back in the studio and working on the first of the tracks for a building in Shanghai that used to be a slaughterhouse. 1933 is a mix of art deco and brutalist architecture and resembles an Escher painting; a maze of concrete bridges and stairways lead to a circular central structure where the cattle met their fate. My plan is to use the shapes and patterns of the building as a graphical score. I also found an interesting document that talks about the Feng Shui, numbers and codes believed to have protected the local population from the negative 'death energy' leaking from the building. 

Blood Culture Scoops Silver at British Podcasting Awards

It was lovely to spend an evening with so many audio creatives at the British Podcasting Awards 2018, and see the way the medium is flourishing. I attended with Lance Dann, creator, writer and director of techno thriller audio drama, Blood Culture, which was nominated, and won Silver, in the Best Fiction category.

I now have a list of new podcasts I need to check out. 

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New music

I've been a bit quiet here as I've been working on an intense production for nearly 6 months. More on that another time. Lots of exciting things coming up including a trip to China with BBC Radio 3 broadcaster Nick Luscombe's  Musicity project, to make music inspired by architecture, a theatre piece with Neil Cargill (Akiha Den Den) and more work with Andrew Phillips on TV soundtracks. 

In the meantime here is a track that just got released as part of a compilation tape on Modern Aviation Recordings. My bass heavy, boney Buchla rhythm workout, Dry Bones, sits nicely alongside tracks from Jon Brooks, Moon Wiring Club, Teresa Winter and The Hardy Tree. 

The cassette is sold out at the moment but I hear that the label might do a re-press. if you want to buy the digital version and support the label and artists, do that here

A Winter Playlist

I created a playlist to welcome Winter. It features drones and sound designs I've created for various projects over the last 12 months - all suitably cold and dark and melancholic. 

Photo by Fia Wahlin

Blood Culture Drama Podcast wins Gold

Friend and colleague Lance Dann won Gold in the best producer category at the Audible Audio Production Awards last night. Here is what the judges had to say about the series that I contributed music to and was lead sound designer on. It is really exciting to see adventurous audio drama getting recognised. 

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Blood Culture BBC Drama Awards Nomination

Quite excited to report that Lance Dann's Blood Culture podcast has been nominated in the BBC Radio Drama Awards in the Best Online or Podcast Drama category. This time last year the team were in the studio in Brighton recording the performances of the fantastic cast. I recorded many of those performances, sound designed and mixed 2 episodes and provided music throughout the series.

Looking forward to series 2.

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Further performance

A very enjoyable performance surrounded by beautiful slide projections - the Further team setup over 20 projectors covering every wall with visuals, and Sculpture blew everybody's minds with their live zoetrope and tape loop set. I'll share a video of my performance when I get a chance to edit it! Thanks to everybody that worked so hard to make the evening so successful. 

 © Martin LeSanto-Smith 2017

© Martin LeSanto-Smith 2017

Buchla Map

I use these sheets to keep track of settings on my Buchla synthesizer. This one is for my upcoming show at Further on the 18th November. For those that are new to modular synths, they are different to modern synthesizers where everything is hardwired inside. A modular synthesizer is made up of different modules all with different roles. It won't make a sound until the right connections are made. This flexible architecture provides almost endless possibilities for sound design and musical timbres. 

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Further

I'm performing a live Buchla Electric Music Box set in London on the 18th November. Thrilled to be invited to play alongside Sculpture who project mind bending live zoetrope visuals alongside their tape loop compositions. The team of DJ Food and Pete Williams fill the performance space with 'out of this world' projections and liquid light show - I've seen images from the first event and it really is an immersive visual spectacle with every available surface used. Tickets here.  

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DJ Food & Pete Williams present the second of their irregular evenings at the Portico Gallery by creating a temporary audio visual space to enjoy. Films, slides, oil projections, food, drink and plenty of seating form the environment to soak up the sights and sounds of Further.  

Spirit Side Sound Design

I thoroughly enjoyed working with Miniclick Talks, Curtis James and Stanley James Press on their Spirit Side installation. They took over the basement of an old Regency Town House on Brighton seafront and filled it with examples of spirit photography, and I created an 'otherworldly' soundscape that plays as visitors wander around with torches in the eerie space that used to be the servants quarters. Last night an evening of talks took place from the head of the Anomolistic Psychology Research Unit at Goldsmiths, Prof. Chris French, funeral director Tora Colwill and film maker Vicky Matthews. I performed live before and after the talks and it was great fun 'soundtracking' people's exploration of the space, underscoring their discoveries. 

 Design by Emily Macaulay 

Design by Emily Macaulay 

The installation is open until Thursday 17.00 to 19.00.

Here is a creepy video of a 'visitation' in the wine cellar.

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Dungeness Field Recordings

A few snippets of some longer recordings I made in Dungeness at the weekend. The landscape is quite strange and there is a sense of entering in to a different dimension as you pass the Army firing range and glimpse the nuclear power station in the distance. These recordings, made using contact microphones, are suitably otherworldly and will no doubt be used within my sound design and music work. I'm looking forward to spending more time in the Dungeness area as there are so many sound gathering opportunities.