Nick Franglen: Hive
Following his 24-hour Theremin marathon on The Manhattan Bridge this summer, Nick Franglen’s latest sound installation will see the experimental musician holed up for 24 hours in a remote WW2 concrete gunnery dome in the company of fifty radios, each tuned to a different station.
Franglen is inspired by the urban landscape and other found spaces, from London and Manhattan Bridges to a submarine, a mine and jet engine test bed. His work contextualises its environment, providing an often spontaneous, improvised reaction to time and place. Sound and Music is delighted to support this latest work at Langham Dome. On Armistice weekend he uses this WWII anti-aircraft training dome as a unique place
for his installation and testing site for his concept: ‘Hive’.
Almost hemispherical, the Langham Dome was used as a simulator for trainee gunners, images of enemy planes were projected onto the interior surface of the Dome so gunners could learn to use the weaponry needed to shoot them down. Nick is using the derelict building to house this installation – and together with Sound and Music he will develop this into a new, travelling installation.
‘Hive’ will be at once a remarkable sound-wall of unrepeatable, complex harmonies and structures – reflecting the daily fluctuations of the combined mass of UK's radio output as heard in one location – and a powerful comment on the choices we make in filtering that information. Those curious to experience the simultaneous broadcast of multiple stations in an enclosed space – perhaps the ultimate in immersive, surround-sound experiences – are welcome to join Nick any time between 2pm on Saturday and 2pm on Sunday.
Nick Franglen writes:
“Walking into early open air tests with just forty radios arranged in a circle felt like turning up at a party heaving with hyperactive people – local radio DJs jostling for attention with world leaders, taxi drivers and sport pundits – all with a lot to say, and all at once. And they’ve all brought their own music. Unsurprisingly, it’s chaotically beautiful and intimidating in equal measure. It’s difficult to predict how this first incarnation of ‘Hive’ will sound as the acoustics inside Langham Dome are unsettling. Like a miniature ‘Whispering Gallery’, it phases and focuses so that the sound opposite is right inside your head. This could mean that picking out individual stations will be either easy or practically impossible. The unpredictability of the project excites me greatly. What will it sound like when multiple station idents cascade down to on the hour news broadcasts, before slipping back to the highly textured chaos of music and talk again? I’m curious to find out how the piece will feel at different times of day – with sports results and traffic news punctuating the afternoon hubbub and whispering DJs administering post-club absolution at 4am before segueing into the Sunday morning religious slots…
While I’m planning to record the piece in situ using moving mics and stream the results
online, I have a strong feeling that to experience ‘Hive’ properly you have to be there in it – free to move around in the space responding to where the audio pulls you. I extend an open invitation to anyone who wishes to join me and experience it for themselves.”
Nick Franglen is a founder member of Lemon Jelly, and more recently a creator of an altogether darker vein of electronica with Blacksand and solo projects. Nick has taken
experimental music to some unusual places over the past few years with improvised performances in submarines, caves, woodland glades and beneath iconic bridges, most recently playing the Theremin under Manhattan Bridge in a 24-hour interactive performance as part of Make Music New York.
Hive will run continually between 2pm on Saturday 12th and 2pm Sunday 13th November at Langham Dome, Langham, Holt, Norfolk. Visitors are welcome at any time during the 24 hours with free admission. The Langham Dome can be found 800 yards west of Langham on the road to Cockthorpe.
Watch the video of Nick's trial run for Hive
I set up the radios in a circle outside to see if they would behave. They kind of did, and I'm pleased with what it sounds like. This is of course without any of the focussing effect that the Dome will bring to the party. This film was made immediately after 6pm so most of the stations are broadcasting the news.
It takes a surprisingly long time to tune this many radios properly - the increasing background hubbub gets in the way - and as it was starting to rain I didn't make a very good job of it. There's a lot of radio crackle, partly because of me rushing but also because some of the radios I bought are rubbish. But working that out is what this trial is all about.
Once it started really chucking it down I had to derig everything right away, so I wasn't able to check out what it sounds like when the music stations actually go back to playing music again. The prospective joy of listening to Alien Sex Fiend layered with Debussy and Kylie with a splash of James Naughtie on the side will have to wait until I'm in the Langham Dome.