In 2020, a year shaped by stringent COVID-19 restrictions, many of us paused for thought about our collective futures. For First Light Records, this reflection, plus the support of Sound and Music’s Composer-Curator programme, led to the development of Unbuilt Sound, a new series of commissions centred around acoustic ecology; the relationship between listener and environment. Over the course of the project, pioneering electronic artists across the world will immerse themselves in remote rural locations and produce new sound works inspired by their experiences, which will then be released on limited edition vinyl under the First Light Records imprint.
The first iteration of the Unbuilt Sound series sees Flora Yin-Wong, previous winner of a Sound and Music Covid-19 Award, retreat to an isolated cabin outside Machynlleth, North Wales, to collect the field recordings that provide the basis for her folklore-inspired The Sacrifice.
Nestled within the UNESCO Dyfi Biosphere, Machynlleth is home to The Centre for Alternative Technology (CAT), which functions as a site to explore practical solutions for a carbon-free future. The area’s uncanny and untouched natural surroundings, punctuated by the remains of industrial mines, embody a parallel and possible present that provides momentary sanctuary from the climate predicament that faces our contemporary societies.
In Flora’s own words: “Taking its name from a modern adaption of The Mabinogion, the earliest collection of mythic Welsh stories, The Sacrifice is an isolated reflection on the earthen landscape of weaving valleys and still lakes. Inspired by the mytho-historical figures who appear – architects of destinies and synthetic beings who make shamanic journeys of redemption.”