Ash 12.8 – The Memory Room

Order The Memory Room on Bandcamp
CD+DL Limited Edition, 24pp booklet
Released September 2019

CD – 1 track 45:29

The region around Eupen, in the east of Belgium towards the border with Germany was once part of another country and was annexed after hostilities in 1919. It has the feel of both border territory and hinterland simultaneously, not seeming to belong to any one place or region. No hard border here. There are ghosts; the region was heavily fought over in both major western European conflicts of the twentieth century, but now it is a still place, thrown over to managed habitats for forestry and wildlife. It is here, in the Eifel Nature Park, that Meakusma commissioned Chris Watson and Mike Harding to organise and lead a field recording workshop and, in the given time, adopt a suitable approach to developing a ‘sound painting’ to describe the ambience of the area. Seven in the group with skills ranging from beginner to advanced were shown how to manifest the hidden sonic world available to them with contact microphones; how to patiently set up a recording zone within a smaller area and, most important of all, how to listen actively and simply be in that place. Sessions pre-dawn and post-sunset encouraged an unusual perspective. This is animal time: dark and strange, and sound carries. Under a flightpath from Liège airport the recordists were confronted with a familiar challenge; how to allow industrial noise (noise here defined as any unwanted sound) into our increasingly enclosed world of headphones and hush…

Eifel Nature Park is part of Natura 2000, stretching over 18% of the EU’s land area and almost 6% of its marine territory. It is the largest coordinated network of protected areas in the world, offering a rich haven to Europe’s most valuable and threatened species and habitats. Natura 2000 is a network of core breeding and nesting sites and some rare natural types of habitat which are protected in their own right. It stretches across all 28 EU countries, both on land and sea. The aim of the network is to ensure the long-term survival of Europe’s most valuable species and habitats which are listed under both the Birds Directive and the Habitats Directive. Natura 2000 is not a system of strict nature reserves from which all human activity would be excluded; while it does include strictly protected nature reserves, most of the land remains in private ownership. The approach to conservation and sustainable use of the Natura 2000 areas is much wider, largely centred on people working with nature rather than against. However, EU Member States must ensure that the sites are managed in a sustainable manner, both ecologically and economically.

Recorded at Hautes Fagnes Eifel Nature Park for Meakusma 2018, Eupen, Belgium by Steffen Bennemann, Jasmin Blasco, Peter Caeldries, Meike Effenberg, Mike Harding, Maxim Hoebreckx, Pepa Ivanova, Louise Le Du & Chris Watson, 7-9th September 2018
Mixed at The Dungeon, Los Angeles, October-November 2018
Artwork & design by Philip Marshall

With thanks to Christophe Houyon, Michael Kreitz, Philippe Laschet & Louise Le Du