Arlet recently emerged, grubby kneed and blinking into the sunlight after a very special weekend in the woods.
Before we go any further, we have to give emphatic and heartfelt thanks and love to all at the pinetum and Sondryfolk for making possible our residency: we will be reaping the benefits for a long time to come.
Having been provided with precious time and beautiful space to do music and stuff, we arrived early(ish) on an overcast Friday morning, ready to steer the Arletmobile in a slightly different direction, or at least help Aidan out with the driving. Up until now we’ve had the immense pleasure of playing Aidan’s compositions and we wanted to use this weekend as an opportunity to collaboratively make some music in a site specific way.
With these aims in mind we bolstered our creative armoury with two notable additions, namely a bell tent (stay tuned for a tantalising tent blog from our canvas correspondent Owen Hewson) and a glamorous film crew. Stalwart friends of Arlet, Alaric and Dan (more here and here), accompanied us over the weekend, documenting our highs and lows along the way – as far as I’m aware, and forgive me if I get overly technical, the process post filming involves many months spent in darkness endlessly watching looped clips of Ben eating porridge until a finished short film spontaneously forms itself and emerges kicking and screaming. Or something. We’ll keep you updated.
Back to the music – along with some spare pants, a hankie, and a toothbrush, Ben had packed a couple of chords into his suitcase and as clouds gave way to bright sunshine, we played them and played them until something more substantial began to develop. Half way through, Aidan and Rosie left the power chord party to experiment with something altogether different, that something being the bell tent’s guy ropes. Notating the guy ropes’ vibrations (along with some other sounds we heard and made) gave us a seven note tone row which sounded pretty awful. Interspersed with some brighter notes foraged from empty bottles however, the theme started to improve and continued to do so when Aidan added some unexpected and majestic chords. And so began a few hours of serial repetition interrupted only by disturbing shouts of “KETTLE BREAK” every now and then.
Saturday was spent by shaping and polishing Friday’s compositions as well as preparing for that evening’s concert. We were lucky enough to share the amphitheatre with The Orchestra That Fell To Earth, comprising former members of the Penguin Café Orchestra. This was a dream for Arlet and the night met and surpassed all our expectations. Performing together, having spent time eating, laughing, and playing, felt truly special – thanks to everyone who came along on Saturday – we will remember it and remember it. Even more so because then we got to watch TOTFTE, rounding off our evening perfectly.
There is much, much more to say about our woodland residency – a lot of it will be caught on film – but for now, we’ll leave you with a list of things we learnt:
A list of things we learnt
1. Matt is a superb cook – we have never been so well fed
2. Thom can’t eat apples because the acid hurts his teeth
3. Ben carries a little pot of moustache wax in his pocket
4. Dan wears a navy blue onesie to bed
5. Aidan can eat a whole packet of dark chocolate gingers
6. Spiders react excitedly to the sound of a euphonium
7. The rain can write music too