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this edition has been produced by regular contributor mark vernon. for more information see http://meagreresource.com. producer’s notes:
Mark Vernon – Ribbons of Rust
Audio Archaeology Series Volume 2: Laem Thian
Ribbons of Rust continues a series of works exploring concepts around audio archaeology and found sound that began with the ‘Lend an ear, leave a word’ LP – Volume 1 in the Audio Archaeology series – released on Kye records in 2016. It is an irreverent, non-purist approach to field recording that puts found sound recordings of voices and music from the past on an equal footing with contemporary field recordings of a particular location.
This album focuses on a derelict and abandoned holiday resort at Laem Thian bay on the east coast of the island of Koh Tao in Thailand. The resort is situated in a small cove that is only accessible on foot via an overgrown path and a walk of several miles – a journey very few tourists bother to make. The concrete structure opens out onto a small sandy beach that would have provided an idyllic holiday setting at one time. A number of palm-thatched holiday cottages with dilapidated roofs slide down the hillside. There are signs of vandalism; graffiti decorates the walls, the remains of campfires, broken glass and other detritus litter the floors – but traces of the previous occupants also remain. Children’s toys, kitchenware, hand written notes, menus, mattresses, a plastic telephone and four cassette tapes – rusty, caked in sand, weather damaged and corroded by the humid salty sea air.
Back at home these tapes were prised apart and transplanted into new cassette shells to salvage the audio from them. This unearthed an array of typically sentimental Thai easy listening and pop tunes and, perhaps more unusually, Christian sermons and hymns in Thai. It seems likely that the music and voices on these tapes would once have resonated within that space and through the composition process they intermingle with the sounds of this location once again. This piece is made from excerpts of the recordings found on the tapes along with field recordings taken on site, the journeys there and back and audio rips from video clips uploaded by other travellers who came across this same location.
The haunting quality of this place left a deep impression on me. The sense of isolation and abandonment it engendered was in stark contrast to the rest of the island, and indeed the rest of Thailand as I experienced it. This feeling stayed with me and in some way it permeated the rest of my stay in the country. It is that feeling that I wanted to convey through this work. The impetus behind this project has been less objective documentation and more a form of sonic time travel. A document of a place that no longer exists.
All recordings made or found in Thailand between February and March 2016.
Developed during the Hospitalfield Summer Residency 2017. Made with support from the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund and Sound and Music’s Francis Chagrin Award.
Original version released as a limited edition cassette by Flaming Pines in 2019.
Special thanks to Tian Miller, Barry Burns, Ian Middleton and Kate Carr. Location photographs by Tian Miller. Cassette documentation by David Fulford.mark vernon, 2021.03