Limpet Space Race & Orchestra of St John’s

Earth Flow

Release Notes

Label: Upcycled Sounds
Release: We Are Water
Date: September 2020

Today we’re spending time with the experimental pop duo of Nicholas O’Brien and Hannah Jacobs who call themselves Limpet Space Race. Together they blend genres for experimental installations using synthesizers, DIY electronics, field recordings and voice. Sometimes that description may sound a little obtuse, and I will admit that I have walked out on many ‘experimental pop duo’ performances at music festivals where I found the ‘musicians’ twisting the knobs, banging on cans, and wailing through contact mics. I assure you, this is not the case for Limpet Space Race. I hope that by now you can trust me in not subjecting you to such “outer-edged-sound”. Furthermore, the duo is joined by internationally-acclaimed Orchestra of St John’s, for a series commissioned by Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey in collaboration with climate and water researchers, titled We Are Water. “Earth Flow” is the first piece for the series which I am premiering today in both, audio and video format, the latter filmed at a socially-distances session at Oxford’s OVADA warehouse in July of 2020. So you are welcome to play either one – I personally recommend for you to hear the one without the visuals first, to form your own perspective, and then you can watch the musicians perform.

For the piece, Jacobs and O’Brien blend their recordings of running water and flowing wind, ebbing and plucked strings, reverbed and processed sounds, with rumbling electronics of modulated filters, VCAs, and long delays to create an atmospheric texture that is both, eclectic and extremely pleasant to the ear. At the heart of the piece is a concept examined in a research project and documentary Himalayas To Ocean, “exploring themes of erosion, landslides and climate change,” recounting stories along the Gandaki river in Nepal, for which O’Brien served as a 5:1 surround sound recordist. The video for the piece features the images captured by videographers Siobhán Cox and Ross Harrison.

As someone committed to social and environmental activism through the arts, I was very much inspired by Nikò O’Briens’s work to document and amplify the sounds of climate change through the Himalayas to Ocean project and knew immediately that we needed to put together a collaboration. I was excited — and a bit nervous(!) — to work with Limpet Space Race on this commission. It was the first time I had asked an experimental pop band, or indeed any kind of “band”, to write a new composition for my orchestra and while I didn’t know quite what we were going to get, I knew their musical style and talent would bring us something unique and beautiful. I wasn’t disappointed! Earth Flow is a gorgeous fusion of string textures, DIY experimental electronics and field recordings from the Himalayas to Ocean expedition. Truly “Limpet” while being completely at home in the concert hall.

— Cayenna Ponchione-Bailey, OSJ’s Associate Conductor

The piece is released on Upcycled Sounds Records tomorrow, September 4th, 2020 on the artist’s Bandcamp, as well as all of your favorite streaming platforms.