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In the Throat of the Machine

by Mark Vernon

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Diapason 06:13
Hollow Idol 05:33
Dysphonia 08:33


All compositions were made from stereo and binaural recordings of two very unusual organs:

- a five-stop polyphone built by the John Compton organ company that is currently in the process of being restored. The polyphone is powered by an electric motor and was recorded in the garage cum workshop of church organist Mark Latimer in Barrow in Furness in 2015.

- and ‘wind pipes’ a custom made organ built from over 100 salvaged church organ pipes by instrument inventor, Sarah Kenchington. The organ’s air supply comes from two massive hand operated bellows. A series of heavy weights are used to force the air through the system. Recorded at Trinity Apse, Edinburgh in 2013.

The organs were played by Sarah Kenchington, Emma Bowen, Jenn Mattinson, Mark Latimer and Mark Vernon.

Special thanks to Sarah Kenchington, Mark Latimer and the Octopus Collective.



released July 14, 2021

individual track notes by Mark Vernon

01 air in the system

02 sustained tones

03 with several organ pipes in full voice I repeatedly ran the microphone rapidly back and forth across the mouth of each pipe until the bellows emptied of air. Listening on headphones whilst doing this the bizarre character of the sound was an unexpected revelation. The effect is similar to sliding between notes on the panpipes except in this case the notes play continuously and the movement between notes is created by the motion of the microphone rather than the mouth. This is an unedited recording of this action

04 composed from recordings made with left and right binaural microphones placed in different pipes (hence the extreme stereo separation). The keys were opened by the smallest amounts possible allowing air to pass into the pipes resonators without fully voicing them. Only EQ and pitch effects were employed in this piece

05 composition using some of the techniques described in track 3

06 composed from recordings of the five-stop polyphone. The microphone was moved inbetween the stream of air escaping from the mouth of the organ and the path of the sounded note creating these unusual oscillations. By monitoring the effect on headphones during recording this active microphone technique effectively becomes an additional way of ‘playing’ the organ

07 an unedited recording made by placing left and right binaural microphones inside two pipes a semitone apart. The notes were slightly modulated in an attempt to generate beating patterns between the notes but were otherwise allowed to sound out continuously until the bellows emptied. At the beginning of the track you can hear the feint voices of the performers discussing their next move captured from inside the pipes

08 The feedback like tones used in this piece were created by allowing the notes to sound for just a fraction before cutting them off, giving distinctive bends to the ends of the notes


09 A microphone placed inside the chimney breast of a domestic fireplace on a wet and windy night. With winds of such force the chimney becomes a resonator not unlike that of an organ pipe


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