Chris Watson, Weather Report

Touch, 2003

Weather Report     Photo: Courtesy of Touch

Chris Watson was a founding member of Cabaret Voltaire and the Hafler Trio, two influential UK post-punk groups, but for the past three decades he has traveled the world as a sound recordist for the BBC. He never stopped making records: Stepping into the Dark and Inside the Circle of Fire, released in the mid-’90s, are landscape and species recordings, respectively; for the latter, Watson went so far as to insert omnidirectional microphones into a zebra carcass to document the feeding sounds of vultures. Less gruesome is Weather Report, three time-dilated pieces—seamless studio creations collaged together from longer recordings. “Ol-Olool-Ol,” set in the Kenyan savanna, begins with the roar of a lion, moves through the agitated bustle of farmers and livestock as a storm approaches, and ends with a nighttime chorus of insects and the salutary bark of a hyena. “Vatnajokull,” a glacier recording, pairs an eerie drone produced by a subsurface river with the creak and moan of the ice, passing gulls, and seal and puffin jabber.

DID YOU KNOW: The British band Doves hired Watson to remix their song “Birds Flew Backwards.” (Oddly, bird sounds were used.)

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