Tip! Musician and field recordist Action Pyramid finds magic in the everyday on Mardle, a compelling and confounding suite of hydrophone compositions revealing the sonic 24-hour cycle of the UK’s freshwater ponds. Rooted in Jack Greenhalgh’s sonic research on pond biodiversity, Mardle brings to the surface the delicate sounds of aquatic insect stridulations, plant respiration and photosynthesis - an ecology of otherworldly rhythms and alien hyper-sounds that feel more like early synth experiments than biological processes. As Greenhalgh explains, “It's so exciting that we've discovered the woodland bird song dawn chorus equivalent for ponds, in the form of nocturnal aquatic insect choruses at night-time, and the whining of aquatic plants as they photosynthesise like busy factories during the midday sun.”
In doing so, Mardle takes the daily cycle as its compositional cue. Beginning above water, the listener is plunged into a “strange and mysterious” world, peaking in the frenzied, pulsing activity of midday and midnight, before the calm of the early morning rain returns above. Inspired by Jana Winderen’s creative underwater soundscapes, the result is quietly breath-taking. “To actually consider the living presence of plants with direct sonic evidence is quite profound,” Action Pyramid says. “It's such an evocative way to capture people's attention and highlight these fragile and maligned habitats. There have definitely been moments where I think I can’t believe I'm listening to this.”
Accompanied by detailed liner notes that explain Greenhalgh’s findings and the implications of acoustic ecology in freshwater monitoring, Mardle is a perspective-shifting, mind-expanding missive from the shallows of one the most familiar and overlooked ecologies on Earth.