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Trapped inside Swansea observatory

Swansea observatory
Swansea observatory

Over the weekend we took a trip to Swansea in Wales to take some field recordings, and among our interesting finds was the now-abandoned observatory on the beach.

Also grandly known as the Tower of the Ecliptic, until recently it boasted a 20-inch Shafer-Maksutov telescope – the second largest of its kind in the world.

However, the site is now derelict and awaiting development or renovation, and one window is partially boarded up. It was here that we captured the sound of the wind whistling and howling through a gap in the boards, very clearly audible, but not disturbing our microphone so we were able to capture a great recording. The wind sounds are punctuated by the rhythmic pulse of a burglar alarm fitted to the side of the building.

These layers of sounds lent themselves readily to an ambient reworking, so we constructed the reimagined piece almost entirely from manipulated versions of the original field recording, with only the addition of a couple of sounds made from a creaking door and a metal wire added periodically in the right channel of the mix.

City version:


Memory version: