There’s a powerful story behind today’s fur seal sound from Cape Cross, Namibia, as told by recordist Daan Hendricks for our Sounding Nature project:
“There is a great sadness to the context of these sounds, and it is somehow fittingly expressed by their whimpers, weeps and growls, seemingly conveying both sorrow and aggression.
“There is a culling in place in this so-called protected reserve, resulting in thousands of deaths each year by the hands of man, using clubs as their blunt tools to butcher these animals to death.
“The incredulous explanation of the Namibian government for this policy is that these seals simply are too numerous, their food consumption resulting in losses to the local fishing industries.
“Even if we would attempt to consider this explanation as vaguely reasonable, the severity of these damages are disputed, and provide regardless no justification as to why this specimen of a human being is profiting from the cull.”
The sound was reimagined by Mike Rucinski, who writes:
“The original recording of the fur seals was quite chaotic, a little like a scene in a horror movie, but thankfully not in a bad way, and there were some key sounds that took my ear; the clearer grunts and evil chortling choruses.
“These were the sounds that would mostly inform my composition. There was a lot of background noise throughout the original recording, which did initially put me off track when deciding how to approach production of this piece.
“The angle I took was to create a space for the seals to live, outside of their original habitat; a new space with low bass, saturation, locked loop rhythms and enveloping delays, all in all combining what I liked about the original recording, with the addition of selected weather and woodland sounds from my own field recordings to accompany and embellish.
“Initially the vibe was ambient, but the feel was dark, so gradually more rhythmic content was created. I suppose this piece represents an moderately twisted immersive journey to seal-ville… Disney it is not!”