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And the award for least sympathetic medium goes to - Tell That To Jerry

edited June 21 in Creations

“Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of Earth…
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
 / My eager craft through footless halls of air… “ - ‘High Flight’, John Gillespie Magee*

A setting of the audio recording of the seance at Bircham Newton aerodrome, Norfolk, UK, 1980.

A WW2 era base in rural Norfolk, investigated extensively for psychic phenomena prior to its destruction, most notably in a disused squash court where “ghostly” sounds were recorded when the building was securely locked. The confused, scared voice heard here, allegedly channeled by medium Jack Sutton in a trance state, identifies itself as that of a dead airman, apparently seeking aid on behalf of himself and his crew - including the above-mentioned ‘Jerry’ - still wanting safe landing after their participation in a disastrous sortie mounted from the base four decades before…

…The cynic in me marvels at the charlantery in evidence, and yet… there is something in the contrast between the arrogant, harsh interrogations of the ‘medium’ and the answering terrified half-whispers of the ‘spirit’ of the putative young airman that I find inexplicably moving.

So, in that other finer, more interesting place, where all fantastical things are real… he is so very lost and scared, a boy more than a man, caught between worlds, seeking and finding no love, no aid, no rest… and never has that hackneyed directive ‘Go towards the light’, delivered here with the callousness of a bailiff overseeing an eviction, seemed more lacking and inadequate a response to such an endless eternal suffering.

For those that might be interested, this is another File Player-a-thon, various loops created there using the free version of iFretless, BeatHawk, Cube Synth Pro, Shroom, Fractal Beats, and a live glitch performance using Hexaglyphics, video capped and then sliced n diced with Gatelab, MIDILFOs on automated channel bypass, and assembled in Multitrack DAW in slide over mode, still the fastest way I have found on those occasions when I want to trigger multiple pieces of audio precisely and don’t trust my performance chops enough to do it live inside AUM. Roll on the future automation lanes, I say… Anyhoo: Come fly the friendly skies with me… :)

  • Footnote: Author of the beautiful poem I quoted at the head of this piece, John Gillespie Magee Jnr, an Anglo-American aviator and poet, served in the Royal Canadian Air Force, which he joined before the United States entered the war; he died in a mid-air collision over Lincolnshire in 1941. Aged 19.


  • Hi Svetlovska,
    I am all in, on this trip with you.
    Very scary, indeed.
    This is simply out of this world, and you are making this such an environment of your own.
    Very nicely done!
    Truly engulfing sounds, you can be swept away in this creation.
    Very talented and skilled execution and creation.

  • Haunting. The music piece as well as the story

  • Now you need to do some St. Exupery.

  • Simply stunning! The story.. the sounds.. terrifying + frantic.. yet somewhat calming..
    An amazing piece.. the audio paints the visuals for you.. close your eyes and you’re there..
    My sleep for tonight may be problematic.. thank you @Svetlovska

  • edited June 22

    @ReneAsologuitar : hey, thank you. I found the process of making this particular noise oddly emotional. Got quite invested in the various small tragedies the event pointed to as I researched it.

    @yokotate : Haunting: I see what you did there. :)

    @LinearLineman : indeed. Another beautiful soul, a poet of flight and eternity, also lost amid the tumult of wartime clouds:

    “ I thought of our respect for the dead. I thought of the white sanatorium where the light of a man’s life goes quietly out in the presence of those who love him and who garner as if it were an inestimable treasure his last words, his ultimate smile. How right they are! Seeing that this same whole is never again to take shape in the world. Never again will be heard exactly that note of laughter, that intonation of voice, that quality of repartee. Each individual is a miracle. No wonder we go on speaking of the dead for twenty years.” - from Wind, Sand and Stars.

    Ironic perhaps that the cosy domestic death contemplated here was not that which found St. Exupery himself who, like Magee, and, if you believe it, like the young frightened airman in the seance, met his personal Samarra somewhere between sky and earth, his body never found, (though traces of it may have been.)

    @royor : thank you. Seems only fair, trading sleeplessness for sleeplessness, as the piece was itself born as distraction from one of the many (many) sleepless nights I tend to experience! :) Seriously though, thank you for the listen and the comment.

  • The scene: a shed at night with just a couple of candles keeping me company and a couple of hundred frogs outside the door. My monitor system waiting silently, ready to breathe. Figured this was as good time as any to play this track. I'm still recovering.....

  • @Mountain_Hamlet : Ha! Well, I aim to please! Thanks for the listen, and the, er… compliment? Sweet dreams :)

  • Blimey that’s good. Though distinctly unsettling.

  • @Svetlovska said:
    @Mountain_Hamlet : Ha! Well, I aim to please! Thanks for the listen, and the, er… compliment? Sweet dreams :)

    Definitely a compliment.

  • I visited this base and quite a few across Norfolk and Lincolnshire in the seventies with my Grandfather, he was in the RAF during the war, and was stationed in a few of these.

  • @Svetlovska said:
    …The cynic in me marvels at the charlantery in evidence, and yet… there is something in the contrast between the arrogant, harsh interrogations of the ‘medium’ and the answering terrified half-whispers of the ‘spirit’ of the putative young airman that I find inexplicably moving.

    Agreed, this was very strong, and very well put to music. "In the plane you die. Remember that?" "You don't belong here!"

    Downright chilling, nevermind the ghosts.

  • Tiny bit of rhythm and melody in there I think… your slipping! 🙂 Very atmospheric, great mix of created sounds and recordings.

  • edited June 24

    @bygjohn : thank you! I think the stars aligned for me a bit. :)

    @knewspeak : yes, I looked at photos of it before choosing the one of the old control tower(?) to illustrate the piece. Being a child of weird hauntological kids’ tv shows of the 60s and 70s like Timeslip (set partly in, you guessed it, a disused WW2 base, though in this case a naval one -, ) clearly left its’ mark:


    Also, side note, this relaxing little sting was the theme:

    Is it any wonder my generation grew up a little - twisted- if this sort of thing was considered cosy tea time fare for kids back then?

    For whatever reason then, I have always felt that these liminal places, where so many young men diced with and often lost to death, or others places like them, which, abandoned, were the fascinating, scary playgrounds of my own childhood. (In my case: Anderson shelters, a derelict mental asylum; wild land close to my house peppered with bomb craters) all had a peculiar power of their own.

    So I suspect that must have been quite something, travelling with your grandad to those places, with a man who had been involved in those dramas. Did you know anything of the squash court’s reputation? Difficult to know how much was post hoc rationalising, but apparently following media interest in the seance others came forward to disclose their own weird experiences at the base.

    @JudasZimmerman : thank you. Yes, warm and empathic he wasn’t!

    @GeoTony : oops, sorry! I’ll turn up the chaos/noise dial for the next one, promise. I have my reputation to think of, after all :) Thank you for the listen and the comment anyway! :)

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