Writers: Katy Dye, Leyla Josephine, Alicia Matthews, Mac McGregor, Peter McMaster, David A Pollock, Gudrun Soley Sigurdardottir and Paula Varjack.
Concept: Jill Smith and Kathryn Boyle
Listening and contemplating is something we have all had more time for this year, perhaps too much, but if you’re ready for some more ahead of the festive season then Feral Arts has gathered eight Scottish writers to create a selection of sonic art works and experiences under the banner of My Private Audio. Running between 5 and 10-minutes each, these immersive audio creations are designed to be undertaken somewhere in your home.
There is no story or straightforward connection between these pieces other than their creators, brought together under the banner of Glasgow-based Feral Arts who have coordinated eight individual sound experiences. Working with previous collaborators the result is spoken word, mindfulness, meditation and poetry-inspired works that use audio effects to make larger points about taking time out of our lives to focus on the simplicity of the everyday.
Some of the best push the listener’s imagination into unexpected places such as Katy Dye’s unnerving 5-minute story RATS! at the start of which you are instructed to sit ‘somewhere you might find unwelcome guests’ and the entire piece is underscored by the scratching and scuffling sounds of the titular rodents. Enough to chill you, Dye’s management of intensity and tone is impressive as a whispering voice assumed to be the writer turns out to be something else entirely.
Leyla Josephine’s 6-minute story Elizabeth and Her House is equally atmospheric, a cautionary tale in which the listener should be cleaning or tidying to absorb the full impact of the protagonist’s increasing obsession with isolation and the objects in her house. It goes to some quite bizarre places, but Josephine’s use of elongated rhyme and speedy delivery create an unstoppable tension that builds convincingly, drawing you into this very strange little tale.
In Memorylink, Paula Varjack takes the restrictions of the year and uses them for a Black Mirror-style projection in which a future listener confined to their home harvests the memories of earlier generations to experience the outside world, taking you on a sunny holiday in Lisbon and to a booming club in Berlin. The evocative use of sound effects deliberately creates a slightly false rendering of the real world as Varjack encourages you to fill in the details of people and energy in the scenarios she evokes.
The remaining works touch primarily on mindfulness as Gudrun Soley Sigurdardottir’s Now the Light is Fading, David A Pollok’s Craigie Linn, Alicia Matthews’ Relocate, The Sacred Art of Chewing by Mac McGregor and Peter McMaster’s The Quieter You Are, The More You Can Here rely on restful minds with instructions on how to move the body to achieve a more serene state. These vary in effectiveness and while all use sound and music to create a contemplative calm so the brain pays more attention to the familiar, their collective effect is fairly intangible against the narrative structure of the earlier works.
Releasing the set just before the potentially hectic days of Christmas is very timely giving you the opportunity to take 5 minutes to hear one piece or even an hour for them all. The suite of works in My Own Private Audio wants you to carve out time for yourself, to step back from the world and use the current restrictions to create a moment or two of comfortable isolation.