Commissioned work for “Southern Encounter” (curated by Sarah Last/WIRED LAB) as part of the Regional Arts Australia National Conference – Goolwa, South Australia – October 2012.
Echocline is a three-part audio work composed from field recordings made around the Fleurieu and Alexandrina regions – from the coastal areas of Victor Harbor, Granite Island, Port Elliot and Goolwa, the lake settlements – Clayton and Milang and the inland regions of Cox Scrub, Finniss and Sandergrove.
The concept of Echocline is to evoke the landscape that one observes (and might imagine) along the historic Victor Harbor to Strathalbyn rail journey. Along with the changing visage of the ocean, creeks, rivers, estuaries, wetlands and paddocks, there is also a noticeable change in the sonic landscape. This work essentially brings a composite “sound image” of the sonic landscapes outside the carriage into the auditory realm of the passenger, emphasising some of the unique sonic characteristics of the coastal and inland environment and its non-human inhabitants (specifically birds.) The title of the work is derived from the term ecocline, which is used to denote the transition between one ecosystem and another, where there is no sharp boundary or distinction between the two.
I. On Water (13’16”)
“On Water” begins on Granite Island overlooking Seal Rocks. A low booming resonance radiates across the water and arcs along the southern edges of the island, that are exposed to the elemental force of the ocean. Gradually the spray of crashing waves colliding with huge granite boulders comes into relief, and the tide makes its way into the calmer environs of the bay. The water then recedes and the underwater environment is revealed: substrates of sand, shell and organic detritus shift and groan and are pulled into deeper currents. The underwater journey continues through the Goolwa Barrages and resurfaces in a bed of reeds, amongst nesting birds and a cacophony of frogs. The composition comes to an end on a long sandbar near the Murray Mouth. Gulls, pelicans, terns, cormorants and finches soar through the air and gather on the sandbar as the Murray Mouth – the transition point between the lower lakes and the greater ocean – thunders in the background.
II. Flux (10’51”)
“Flux” begins at dawn as the sound of Lake Alexandrina comes into relief from a small jetty near the Milang Shacks. The sound of finches, gulls, magpies and starlings can be heard singing in the background. The birds eventually become the focal point of attention, amongst the shacks the starlings voice their high pitch calls from hanging electrical wires. The tall grasses of Clayton Bay are then heard as water birds call discreetly in a nearby lagoon. We move towards the reed beds, and for the remainder of the composition – as night falls – insects dominate the sonic environment with their loud clicks, trills and insistent rhythms.
III. On Land (11’05”)
“On Land” begins in the late morning near a flooded a paddock a kilometre south of Finniss. Correllas, cockatoos, gallahs and the occasional Australian Hobby (similar to a Falcon) perch on partially submerged trees and circle through the air. The wind picks up suddenly and the sound of crickets, frogs and the birds of Cox Scrub come into relief near a flooded fire track where a large expanse of dark water has extended into a shallow depression of thick scrub. A second more violent series of wind gusts appears and we are transported to the northern perimeter of the scrub. A group of finches sound in the foreground whilst the Finniss River – acting as a natural division between the scrub and a paddock – is heard in the distance, gradually becoming louder. The strong current of the Finniss River carries us southwards and the composition ends by a small marsh as crickets and nesting birds sound out the early evening.