Sound. Memory.

Woods Noise

The recent issue of Field Notes magazine, published by the Gruenrekorder label had an unusual article composed of various onomatopoeic poems, written by numerous sound artists. The theme was memory, specifically memory based on sonic sensation. Despite smell being considered the sense connected most vividly with memory, I think there's a certain emotive nature to sound memories that can't be triggered by smell. My own most potent sound memory is of the trees that are outside the back of my family home. They are part of the outer radius of the Rossmore forest. Nothing to me was more primevally terrifying than the


of the trees on a windy night. The sound seemed to roll down the hill, seeking to wash you away into the anonymous dark. It was a threatening, aggressive sound, completely unlike the calming white noise wash of waves. Even now I still find it recalling those fears, but being a bit older, it provides more of a thrill, like nature releasing a brutal scream towards the listener.

It's a subject discussed several times by David Toop in Sinister Resonance as he tells of the fearful thoughts that are triggered by random nocturnal noises. He describes being 'woken on a Saturday night by sounds  that through the mist of sleep could have been a gang of cannibalistic human babies, crawling around our house, wet, cold, hungry and in search of an entry point'. Sound seems to press itself on the memory in a unique way, being able to emote so much more than other forms of memory. Perhaps in our mind's eye as we review the memory, just as with cinema,  the sonic sensations enhance the visual to a higher level?