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Surface Tension, by Rob St. John

Surface Tension is a field recording, photography and writing project by Rob St. John exploring pollution, life and biodiversity along the River Lea in East London.

It was commissioned in Summer 2014 by the Thames 21 charity for the ‘Fixing Broken Rivers‘ project as part of the Love the Lea Campaign, which raises awareness and takes practical action to improve water quality of the rivers of the Lea Catchment.

I’ve listened to the full album pretty much in its entirety every couple of days since I downloaded it a week or so ago. It’s a relative rarity in the world of soundscape/ambient music in successfully combining field recordings with music; often these things end up as soundscape with music tentatively weaved in, or music with ambient noise that sounds layered on after the fact. There’s a dynamism in the transition of sounds through the piece that doesn’t sound forced, taking in the sound of the river, train doors closing, Sunday League football, and sounding true to the location; not a bucolic rural setting, but the everyday sound of a river in the post-industrial semi-suburbs.

The album can be downloaded here: http://surfacetensionriverlea.bandcamp.com/releases – good value at £6 inc. photobook.