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Mystery sounds from the English countryside

If anyone out there can help us identify exactly what today’s sound actually is, we’d be interested to hear your ideas!

The location of the 'mystery' field recording.
The location of the ‘mystery’ field recording.

Regular contributor Nick St. George heard – and reimagined – an unusual and disturbing sound coming from a barn in the English countryside.

He tells the story of his field recording:

“One summer Saturday, our village on the Wiltshire/Somerset border was haunted by an extremely loud and eerie sound. Was it an animal in pain? It would have to be a mighty big cow to make that sort of noise…”

“Farm machinery? Again something huge and previously unseen or heard in these parts must have been imported overnight, if that was the case.”

Aircraft? (we get civilian and military here every now and then). The sound was too consistent for that…”

“Unable to answer these burning questions from a safe distance, your intrepid sound artist (with wife for protection) sallied forth to discover more.”

“On the edge of the village a new complex of barns is being built. The noise was emanating from one of the almost-finished structures.”

“The source appeared to be a bright yellow machine that was working there, twisting and turning within the barn.”

“Laying a floor covering of some sort? I couldn’t get close enough to determine exactly what it was doing, but I pressed “record” nonetheless…”

“I sympathised with my neighbours as it had been annoying the village all day. But it was manna from heaven for a sound recordist. I got there just in time too. At 5pm it stopped and hasn’t been heard again since.”

“The “re-imagining” starts with the raw sound and then comprises purely of that layered in various guises. Nothing external (loops, samples etc) has been added.”

The piece starts off like a West Country tribute to Jimi Hendrix playing the Star Spangled Banner and ends up like Tangerine Dream with a hangover (too much cider?).  It is a classic example of taking a chunk of raw material, going with the flow and seeing what comes out of it.”

“Who was it that said the sculpture is always inside the block of stone just waiting to be released?”

City version:

Memory version: