Sunday, April 24, 2016

'glen buck loch' + photographic score

0℃ exhibition, BlanClass, Yokohama, Japan
27-29 / 5 / 2016

exhibition also includes work by:
Sawako Kato
Hafdís Bjarnadóttir
Akio Suzuki
Jana Winderen
Francisco Lopez
Leah Beeferman
Yukio Fujimoto
Katie Paterson
Philip Samatzis
& more

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Orford Ness 

Sound Recording field trip to an internationally important coastal nature reserve, with a fascinating
20th-century history
with Chris Watson and Jez riley French

5-7th July, 2016

A unique mid-week field trip to the National Trust’s Orford Ness National Nature Reserve with access to areas normally off limits to visitors (with careful guidelines as site has fragile habitats and was used as a military testing facility) and two nights on Orford Ness! 
During the trip there will be extensive exploration of recording the Ness and its abandoned military structures with conventional microphones (inc. surround and ambisonic options), parabolic arrays, contact mics, hydrophones, ultrasonic detectors, coils and geophones.
To ensure the best experience for all we are limiting the number of places to 10 participants.
This is an amazing opportunity to explore and record one of the most historically fascinating sites in the UK important in the development of military techniques and equipment from WWI to the Atomic age. Whilst the Ness has plenty of nature to record, this particular trip is likely to also appeal strongly to those interested in architectural acoustics, psychogeography and various approaches to the use of field recording in the wider sound arts. 
For more information on the site visit:

The trip is, of course, suitable for participants interested in any aspect of field recording, sound and the act and art of listening, however due to the unique aspects of the site the trip might be of particularly interest to those working with field recording as a process in the wider arts (sound, installation, video art). Chris and Jez will be on hand to instigate discussions on the various subtle aspects of working with found sound, diffusion or recordings and interacting with environments. In addition, linking with Framework (Resonance FM's field recording based show) participants will be invited to contribute to a special edition of the show based around this trip.

Accommodation is in the ‘basic’, self-catering building on the ness itself. There are 3 bunk rooms so we will book participants based on availability in male and female rooms. Participants will need to bring their own sheets, quilt or sleeping bag and pillows + food and drink for the duration. There is no catering element to this trip so we will all have to pitch in & prepare meals together. If we can persuade the ferry operator there might be one evening trip back to the mainland so we can go to the pub for a meal.  

day one: please aim to arrive at Orford Quay at 2:00pm. We will then ferry everyone to the ness and be transported to the accommodation building to settle in. 
We’ll hold a welcome meeting, giving us all the chance to get to know each other and discuss our aims for the trip and begin exploring the ness, recording during the afternoon, evening and through the night.
day two: further exploration of the ness, including access to the various abandoned buildings + the option for playback sessions in the evening.
day three: further exploration of the ness, including access to buildings. We’ll aim to be ready to leave the ness by the ferry at 5pm or before if you wish.

Cost: £350 per person 

what’s included: 
. access to Orford Ness, including various military structures and natural 
. accommodation for 3 days / 2 nights on Orford Ness
. parking in the public car park and ferry crossings on National Trust’s Octavia
. access to help, assistance and advice from Chris and Jez 
. two NT guides, with in-depth knowledge of the Ness and on site transport
. Chris and Jez will also bring extensive recording equipment with them, which participants will also
  be able to try alongside their own kit.

what’s not included:
. food and drink
. bed linen (please bring your own)
. travel to and from Orford
. travel / personal insurance
  nb. it is envisaged that participants will have some experience of field recording and have their own   recording equipment

suggestions of what you should bring:
. clothes for all weather conditions
. decent boots capable of coping with different weather conditions 
. bed linen or sleeping bag and pillow cases, towel, toiletries
. recording equipment inc. headphones
. batteries, chargers etc.
. camera
. food and drink for the duration  
. notebook and pen
. head torch
. laptop for editing and playback of recordings

There is some mobile signal on the ness, but it can be patchy. It is unlikely there will be any internet access on the ness.

To book a place:
  1. please email Jez at: to reserve your place.
  2. you will then be sent a link to the NT booking process and will be required to pay in full for your place (this is because demand will be very high for places and due to the NT booking process. In the event that you have to cancel your place up to 2 months before the trip the NT will refund your payment minus a £50 cancellation fee. Cancellation after this will only trigger a refund if we can fill your place on the trip, minus the cancellation fee).
  3. please also email Jez your full contact information, including mobile number, details of any flights / trains you are taking to reach the meeting point, a brief description of your areas of interest in sound, the equipment you will be bringing and any questions you have. Please also update Jez on any changes to your travel plans in the weeks prior to the trip. 

Chris Watson
Chris Watson has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. Most recently Watson has been exploring aspects of spatial sound through Ambisonic installations in collaboration with galleries around the world such as in The Louvre, RMIT Melbourne, Krakow Botanical Gardens, The Millennium Gallery Sheffield, Opera North in Leeds and the Royal Opera House in London’s Covent Garden. Chris can be heard regularly on BBC Radio, releases albums for the Touch label and leads workshops on field recording around the world.

Jez riley French
Alongside performances, exhibitions, installations, Jez lectures and runs workshops around the world on field recording and the act and art of listening. His range of JrF specialist microphones have become widely used by recordists, sound artists, musicians and cultural organisations and have had a significant influence on the development of sound culture in recent years. He also curates various other projects exploring the broad ideas surrounding field recording as a primary art of sound / sound art.
Recent work includes commissions for Tate Modern (UK), Artisphere (USA) and for organisations in Italy, Iceland, Japan, Spain and the UK. A section of his piece for Tate Modern was also chosen to be part of the ‘500 years of British Art’ series at Tate Britain.
In recent years he has been working extensively on recordings of surfaces and spaces (natural and man made) and developing the concept of photographic scores. Jez is particularly associated with the development of extended recording techniques, including the recording of structural vibrations, contact microphone recording, ultrasonics, infrasonics, internal electronic signals via coil pick-up's and recordings made with hydrophones.
Amongst his key recent works are pieces capturing the sound of the dolomites dissolving, ants consuming fallen fruit, the Tate Modern building vibrating, the infrasound of domestic spaces around the world, glaciers melting in Iceland and the tonal resonances of natural and human objects in the landscape.

Friday, March 25, 2016

nice web archive of the workshop in Ayr with myself and Chris Watson: 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

the 1st Source film on the subject of the links between sound and photography is now online, featuring myself, Dawn Wilson & Angus Carlyle:

Friday, March 11, 2016

the new issue of Source Photographic review is a fascinating survey of the links between sound and photography including Eve Forrest, writing about the 1980s LPs that make up the 'Photographers' gallery of music and sound', an article on recent books that include sound recordings and portfolios of work by Joséphine Michel who has been photographing birds as sound emitting objects, & myself (Jez riley French) whose photographs are designed as 'scores for listening' and Paul Gaffney whose work is a direct response to a piece of music.

Source have also commissioned a series of films & audio interviews via their website to go along with the print issue, including myself again, Angus Carlyle, Dawn Wilson, Cheryl Tip, Jon Wozencroft, Laura Pannack and Ian Rawes.

a valuable addition to the resources on this rarely covered subject - £6 + p&p from the website:

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

pleased to announce the release of 'portable music' on Touch's Touchline series - three pieces based on structural resonances, close listening to locales and geothermal ultrasonics from Iceland - featuring myself, Pheobe Law​, Sofia Miorelli​, Maria Silvano​, Maddalena Carta, Michele Spanghero​, Sandro Carta, Gabriella Ferrari​, Antonio Della Marina, the audience & villages at Topolo & its locale....

Sunday, February 7, 2016

interesting programme on BBC Radio Ulster about Jocelyn Bell Burnell - which happens to also include some of my fence recordings

Sunday, January 17, 2016

my article on Sami yoik, featuring interviews with Ande Somby & Chris Watson + audio from Ande, Nils-Aslak Valkeapaa, Johan Ander Baer & Ulla Pirttijarvi is now online. As you can hear / read Yoik is a tradition that remains locked to the environment & some of the most powerful recorded examples were (& still are) recorded in the field:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

pleased to be part of this work by Alexander Wendt exhibited at Gallerie Oscar (germany) with a soundtrack of my piece 'residences de lumiere'

Lit – sunshine recorder (2015) trailer from wendt on Vimeo.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

nice mention on Katy Bentham's updated blog + her recording of a hedge using some JrF contact mics:

Friday, July 31, 2015

(abandoned) star farm - iceland

recorded in Iceland, June 2015

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Saturday 25th July 2015 - BBC Radio 4 


i'm part of this programme exploring what 'silence' means on radio 4 this weekend

Examining the nature of silence might not seem the most obvious thing to do on the radio, the medium most wholly given over to noise and which was in its day seen as a direct threat to the realm of silence in our personal and public lives. It might seem, too, that silence is a singular thing, an absence that offers little to any would-be investigation. But it's a subject that's fascinated Lucy Powell ever since she was set a koan by a Zen master, who asked her what the sound is before the bird sings. Now she sets out to answer that problem through an analysis of archive recordings from religious scholars, authors, comedians and poets, as well as conducting fresh interviews with the likes of conductor Edward Gardner, neuro-scientist Jan Schnupp and Buddhist nun Tenzin Palmo, who spent seven years on silent retreat in a Himalayan cave. She hears a freshly composed improvisation on the theme of silence from the classical duo 'Folie a Deux Femmes' and argues that in fact silence is a rich, multiple property that can vary dramatically depending on the context within which it is placed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

I have a track included on the cd that accompanies the new book published by Strange Attractor:

Animal Music - sound and song in the natural world

Edited by Tobias Fischer & Lara Cory
PB 184 pp, £15.99210mm x 148mm,ISBN:  978-1-907222-34-4
Includes specially-compiled 60 minute CD of field recordings
Ever since the accidental discovery of whale song in 1967, the idea of complex animal sentience has been gaining strength within the scientific community. A growing number of researchers and academics are exploring the idea that animals enjoy music on a similar level to human beings.
Animal Music is the first anthology to present an overview of the current state of this vital debate. Its authors have spoken to the leading scientists, researchers and musicians in the field to uncover hidden meanings and new perspectives. They visit the world’s largest library of animal sounds, hack into the mysterious sonic world of shrimps, travel back in time to the point where animal and human songs diverged, and decode the latest neuroscientific findings about animal music and communication.
The book includes exclusive interviews with Chris Watson, Jana Winderen, Yannick Dauby, Slavek Kwi and Geoff Sample as well as features on Bernie Krause, David Rothenberg and Olivier Messiaen and many more.
Includes specially-compiled 60 minute CD of field recordings from the Gruenrekorder label.
01 Tikal Dawn – Andreas Bick, Germany
02 hermetica – Daniel Blinkhorn, Australia
03 Amazons & Parrots – Rodolphe Alexis, France
04 Grand Canal Springs (Excerpt) – Tom Lawrence, Ireland
05 seals – Martin Clarke, United Kindom
07 Adélie_penguins (Excerpt) – Craig Vear, United Kindom
08 Pilot Whales (Excerpt) – Heike Vester, Norway/Germany
09 Brame, septembre 2011 – Marc Namblard, France
10 formica aquilonia, sweden – Jez riley French, United Kindom
11 Schwebfliegen – Lasse Marc Riek, Germany
12 central mongolian high mountain range habitat – Patrick Franke, Germany
13 Otus spilocephalus – Yannik Dauby, France
14 untitled#292 – Francisco López, Spain
15 Summer Sunset 01 – Eckhard Kuchenbecker, Germany
16 Waldkauz-Balz – Walter Tilgner, Germany
17 WHAT BIRDS SING – David Rothenberg, United States of America

Thursday, May 14, 2015

we are very pleased to announce the first two photo / art books from Pheobe riley Law

pheobe riley law  |  dial

limited edition 28 page photo book w/ colour plates | uncoated cover
(50 numbered copies)  

pheobe riley law  |  desire lines

limited edition 44 page photo-book w/ colour and b/w plates | uncoated cover
(50 numbered copies)

both are available from May 20th 

priced at £6 uk inc postage | £8 rest of world inc postage

'dial' book + postage options

'desire lines' book + postage options

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

publishing imprint

as previously announced in early 2014 we (myself and my daughter) are expanding into the world of book / zine publishing. 

‘I do not want to publish coffee-table books. I don’t drink coffee for one thing, although I do like tables’

there is a fine line between presenting work with a degree of stillness and space for the viewer / listener and allowing ones hand to rest rather heavily on the work.

our new press imprint will issue small photo-books, zine style. they’re meant to sit subtly into ones hands.

the first publications will feature new and archive material by Jez riley French and Pheobe riley Law

jez riley french  |  dissolves

limited edition ty cd + photo book + download code
(100 copies)

price + postage
the eagerly awaited document of the first series of mineral explorations, capturing the sounds of shale, iron ore, limestone, dolomite and snail shells in flux.

(download code for full album + 48 minute bonus track)

‘again, French turns our ears towards captivating worlds of sound’

‘when he gets it right, which he very often does, French has an uncanny knack of producing work that grabs us firmly by the ear and the mind...stunning images that trigger the imagination as much as the intimate sound worlds presented here’

‘leaving things as they are is often misunderstood as ‘do nothing’. There are few artists in the world, especially working with sound, who get this and JrF is one who does. Not only that but he seems able to present work that forces us to re-evaluate everything we think we know about minimalism’

‘small sound worlds perhaps, but far richer and more varied than our immediate impression tells us’

jez riley french  |  beam | charcoal

limited edition ty cd + photo-book + download code
(100 copies)

price + postage
released for a month as a digital download only this 2014 release soon attracted a fair bit of attention. Now re-released as a limited ty cd accompanied by a book of JrF’s brooding photographs of woods and forests at night.

‘a release of the natural sounds of trees in various states that allows you to re-tune your ears. Worth a purchase for the long bonfire track on its own. Remarkable. The images show another fascinating side to French’s visual work’

‘you might at first assume this release is one amongst many such surveys of these kinds of sounds but look hard and you’ll find very little to compare, either in terms of content or quality’

both are available from May 10th 

| forthcoming: 

Pheobe riley Law  |  desire lines
Pheobe riley Law  |  dial
Jez riley French  |  adagios
Jez riley French  |  iceland
Jez riley French  |  suketchi
Jez riley French  |  audible silence (weaves)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

the idyll
(do we ever actually hear the world around us)

nb. the format of this article is 'straight' - that is to say that I haven't followed the conventional rules of such things, with quotes, footnotes and references. It is fair to say that some have been critical of this approach, often misunderstanding it as a sign of unnecessary opposition to the norm or a sign of a less rigorous thought process. In truth it stems from a deep and long private, personal exploration of the subjects and similarly extensive observations of the various theories and systems of understanding involved. Put another way, I do reject the idea that to investigate our role in any creative endeavour means constantly removing layers of ones own personal reaction only to replace it with systems that are as arbitrary, as invented. 

There is limited evidence as to how the landscape around us was represented in artistic terms as we moved from prehistoric times to societies constructed around ritual, celebration and communication. Early cave art appears either representational or unfathomably abstract. Just as primitive hunting scenes could be both documentary and fiction, cup and ring marks could be saying something savage or slight. The use of sound in the earliest artistic actions is also a subject for competing theories; acoustic 'sweet spots' in caves seem to indicate a deliberate understanding of the power of altered sound, whilst the earliest hints of 'music' stem from a slowly developing skill set in the shaping of sounding instruments. Once we humans began to bring in ever more 'sophisticated' ideas to our renderings of the world around us it is possible to see a fork in the path of creative evolution; one route phasing in and out of a deepening understanding of our interaction with 'nature', and the other, perhaps more dominant, a racing, all consuming rush of ego and detachment. 

Throughout the history of art 'landscape' has, almost exclusively been veiled in a thick, sweet fog - an idealistic view of what nature is, can be or indeed should be. We stand in front of paintings that speak of summer, of slow afternoons heavy with light and bird song or of snow falling from proud, insect free trees. Likewise in the quite incredibly short moments that we actually spend looking at our surroundings themselves is it not true to say that we are seeing and hearing what we decide is there ? What we have come to expect and desire from nature ? Any idea of 'reality' is filtered through so many layers that it has become almost impossible for us to approach a connection to nature that is not already based on an evolved removal of our species. Even the dictionary definition of the actual word 'nature' has been changed to fit our changing ideas of our superiority. In early dictionaries, and indeed texts that pre-date them, references to nature include 'all things living' or 'everything that populated the earth' and other such blanket statements, whereas now it has been set loose from having any connection to the human race or its impact on the planet.

Definition of nature in English:


1[MASS NOUN] The phenomena of the physical worldcollectively, including plantsanimals, the landscape, and other features and products of the earthas opposed to humans or human creations:the breathtaking beauty of nature(from the Oxford English Dictionary)

Further, there is the whole 'Mother Earth' issue; the reasons for that choice and the frankly often worrying ease by which some people with a religious fervour and unshakeable belief impose certain views onto the very thing they claim to celebrate. Imposition stands contrary to respect, just as it does in the relationships we form between ourselves and our partners; if one partner tells another who they are, what they are and should be everyone can agree that would be problematic at best and controlling at worst and yet, when it comes to the planet it is easy to find people who will, with a straight face, tell you that singing to the forest is honouring the earth, the trees or the creatures in them. However uncomfortable it is to accept for some, such ideas are based on our own human arrogance and ego. I say that not only because I disagree but that it is clearly not based on an acceptance of 'nature' on its own terms. Perhaps it is impossible for any species to have a complete acceptance on other terms than its own ? Perhaps if it were possible it would not lead to anything better or more connected ? Again, i'll state that what puzzles me most is how unquestioning we are, especially when we are telling ourselves we are 'special' because we are questioning the norm. It's always one uniform replacing another. All are equally floored.

We contemplate birds nests or termite hills  as almost miraculous structures and yet we think of our human architecture as entirely different, from another place and evolutionary level. We hear grass moving in the breeze and are pre-programmed to associate it with ideas of peacefulness or beauty, without any understanding of what that simple process means for all the other species affected by it. We think of nature as 'countryside' or 'the wild' rather than, for example, urban landscapes or the indoor spaces we construct and yet all are results of natural evolution. In short we invent what we see and hear of the world to such a large degree that I feel certain that we have tipped over from a growing, richer palette of creative associations to the world and into an increasingly more restricted new-ageism, unquestioning and always ready to accept that reality fits neatly into our most surface expectations of it.

As an artist and composer who has taken great pleasure in the act of listening for many years and has developed a close connection to that activity through field recording i'll let readers in on a secret: being a field recordist does not mean one listens to lots of other peoples recordings ! Field recording is a wide interest and there are lots and lots of folks whose interest involves comparison and indeed collecting of recordings by themselves and others and that of course is a totally valid approach. However it should not be seen as being any more connected to 'listening' or indeed to an understanding of the world than those whose interest is personal or who do not perceive field recording as a genre. I'm involved in various FR related activities (blogs, forums, facebook groups and of course leading workshops and lecturing) so I do listen to more field recordings by other recordists than I would perhaps choose to in the same way as I do to 'music'. I enjoy it of course, but for me there has to be a purpose to this activity. A reason for turning my ears towards a recording, whether that be in workshop playback sessions or to preview a post submitted to a website. Through all of these connections I believe i'm qualified to state that, as ever, there are a large number of recordings being made that, in my opinion, are documents of just one approach to the natural world; go to a place, record it, present it as a kind of audio postcard. I've done this myself and my comments here aren't meant as a criticism of that practice. What I will say however is that I am constantly surprised at how little things have progressed since the whale song / forest morning and waves on a beach days of the 1970's and 80's. A recording of a rain forest, no matter how well recorded, does not and cannot capture the experience of being in a rainforest and yet there are endless recordings of such places that appear to be publicly shared in some way that seeks to 'transport the listener', and lets face it a large number of listeners are primed to be transported - not only by the medium but perhaps by the way we live our daily lives. This leads back to the question of what it is that we are hearing - whether it is reality or our ideas of reality. We listen to a rain forest recording and think of it as restful or relaxing. In fact for all the creatures and natural systems that create its audible soup it is sonic chaos, a battlefield and a quest for survival in extreme conditions. Does the recordist think of that or of how to record some 'perfect' impression of the location that is in fact a denial of its true nature ?

genre / restriction

This is by no means an accurate survey but I would say that still the vast majority of 'field recording' releases are restricted to the most obvious idea of 'documentation'. Is there any part of the process that sees the recordist ask deeper questions about the purpose or content of such material ? Are such questions in fact a way to cause the 'record' button less work ? 

Over the years I have become less and less interested in how the term 'field recording' has become almost a genre, defined in large part by this drive to present 'reality' to ones audience. Here perhaps there is a comparison with other art forms; throughout history there have always been a very large number of very competent painters, musicians, sculptors or writers for example, and yet, even in the widest sense and with ones deep belief that all the arts are available to all, it is a true statement to say that there is an important distinction between an individual competent at their chosen art or craft and those that are able to transform the art and transport the audience 'elsewhere'. I confess that I increasingly have no real idea why someone would record, say, a rain forest at night and release said recording as a creative artwork. Don't get me wrong, i'm not saying I think it a mistake to make such recordings available - for some reason there is still an audience for work that has no more creative merit than pointing any camera at a view and pressing the shutter - but I am unsure of what critical process is taking place and of how this then effects the wider understanding of what field recording is or can be. As with camera's the technology is democratic and yet it is doubtful that any recordist would choose to spend valuable time gazing at a snapshot that does not have additional creative content unless it were taken by someone they are connected to perhaps. In that sense a standard recording of a rain forest at night has a similar public value as a selfie on instagram - neither seeks to say anything other than 'here this is'. 

On the other hand such recordings are often afforded value (by recordist or audience) as documents of a world in flux; a way to preserve the environment in some form or to draw ones attention to it. As I have attempted to state already, in fact we are only documenting human experience and in that respect I personally feel we owe it to our species and to the world in which we live to put more of ourselves into the work.

So, the question remains; as field recording grows as an interest for various audiences and recordists what is it we are recording ? more, what is it we are even hearing ?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

pleased to be part of foundsoundscape project, curated by Janek Schaefer. artists include:
Brian Eno
Chris Watson
Charlemagne Palestine
Phill Niblock
British Library Sound Archive
Richard Chartier
Stephen Vitiello
Douglas Benford
Graham Dunning
Simon Fisher Turner
Taylor Dupree
& others