Hear Us
Inspired by Wirral-born writer Malcolm Lowry who visited the Isle of Man as a child and later wrote about its natural beauty and the need to care for our seas, we’re a group of artists, writers, musicians and poets recording underwater sounds around the island. We’re delighted to offer them below and invite you to download them, guess what some are (we don’t know them all!) and, if you like, use them freely to make compositions. Each little blue block (right-click to download .wav file) is a short sound we've recorded over the past four years and we're continuing to add to them.

We’re working with UNESCO Biosphere Blue Carbon Project, the Isle of Man Government, Manx National Heritage, Sound Records, Beach Buddies and more, with our ultimate aim being to raise awareness and enjoyment of the 85% marine environment of the island that can’t be seen.

We’ll be visiting again in May (for Manx Wildlife Week), July, September and then February 2025, with lots of exciting guests including one of the world’s leading sound recordists Chris Watson known for his award-winning work with David Attenborough. This research has been supported by a one-year AHRC Follow-Up Funding Award to develop the visits and podcasts at the bottom of this page. Email Alan Dunn for further information.



Douglas, Feb 24, Rockpool morning plops (AD)

Ramsey, Feb 24, Possible dolphin (FM)

Niarbyl, Feb 24, Seaweed Squeak (HT)

Castletown, Feb 24, Gurgles and drips (FM/KN)

Douglas, Apr 22, Flowing tide, limpets 1 (CW)

Douglas, Apr 22, Flowing tide, limpets 2 (CW)

Douglas, Apr 22, Flowing tide, limpets 3 (CW)

Castletown, Feb 24, Waves bones crunch (FM/KN)

Douglas, Feb 24, The Manxman arriving, evening (FM/KN)

Niarbyl, Feb 24, Rock pool, sea snails, limpets and anemones (HD-L)

tbc

tbc

TO BE CONTINUED ON NEXT PAGE ... COMING SOON


Recordings by Alan Dunn, Helen Tookey, Frankie Mazzotta, Kristina Nenova, Louise K. Wilson, Hannah Dargavel-Leafe, Chris Watson, Matt Green, Liz Stirling and members of the public. This research project is led by Dr Alan Dunn (Leeds Beckett University) and Dr Helen Tookey (Liverpool John Moores University).


Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place

A two-year AHRC-funded network exploring some writings of Wirral-born Malcolm Lowry (1909-1957) in relation to increased care for our oceans through a series of podcasts recorded during sailings between Liverpool and Isle of Man, 2021-22.

This research emerges from work on Lowry co-ordinated by Bluecoat, including The Lighthouse Invites The Storm, and our title comes from Lowry's collection of short stories written from 1941 onwards, published in 1961 and named after a Manx hymn, Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place.

Already in this period, Lowry is observing the impact of industrialisation on our seas and as he describes in one of the collection's short stories, The Forest Path to the Spring, "civilization, creator of deathscapes, like a dull-witted fire of ugliness and ferocious stupidity had spread all down the opposite bank, blown over the water and crept up upon us from the south along it, murdering the trees and taking down the shacks as it went."

For those wishing to know more about Malcolm Lowry, we include this timeline.

We invite artists, poets, retired sea captains, academics, musicians and maritime curators to sail, chat, observe, mingle with the public and unpack Lowry’s short stories in relation to increased care of our oceans. Our 20-minute podcasts below offer comment, strange sounds, beach cleaning, poetry, children's voices and moments of calm as we try to find a new sonic language for thinking about the amount of plastic in our seas (and in us).

During our trips, we learn that the Isle of Man is geologically 85% marine territory and this fact underpins the podcasts as we also try to make visible some of the issues hidden from the everyday eye.

Some of the contributors you'll hear include Alan Dunn (Lead Investigator, Leeds Beckett University), Helen Tookey (Co-Investigator, Liverpool John Moores University), Bryan Biggs (Bluecoat), The Art Doctors (Liz Stirling and Alison McIntyre), Roger Cliffe-Thompson (Mariner's Park), Rob Keith (former Shell sea captain), Cian Quayle (University of Chester / Isle of Man), Louise K. Wilson (University of Leeds), Chris Watson, BAD PUNK / Band of Holy Joy (James Stephen Finn & Johny Brown), Ian Murphy (Merseyside Maritime Museum), Jessica Van Horssen (Leeds Beckett University), Sarah Hymas, Olga Munroe (The Retail Institute), Ben Parry, David Jacques, Hannah Dargavel-Leafe, Matt Green (Leeds Beckett University), Kristina Nenova and Frankie Mazzotta (Fine Art students, Leeds Beckett University).

We'd like to thank Isle of Man Advertising & PR, The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company and the Isle of Man Government for their huge support, especially during challenging times with particular thanks to Jo Overty, Richard Selman, Michelle Haywood, Peter Duncan, Laura McCoy (Manx Museum), Jacqui Keenan and Rowan Henthorn, along with Bill Dale, Clara Isaac and Sound Records. Further thanks to many of our university colleagues, especially Lucy Scott, Sandra Staniforth, Simon Morris, Scott McRobbie and Justin Burns.

Email Alan Dunn for further information.

Hear Us - the visits



Trip 1 (Sept 2021) Trip 2 (April 2022) Trip 3 (Sept 2022)
Trip 4 (Feb 2024) Trip 5 (May 2024) Trip 6 (July 2024) Trip 7 (Sept 2024) Trip 8 (Feb 2025)

Hear Us - the podcasts

Podcast number 1 is based on a longer mix that was first broadcast during COP26 in Glasgow as part of the AIR radio project. You'll hear recordings from sailings between Liverpool and Isle of Man in September 2021, beginning with naively trying to explain the problem to a five-year-old whilst playing Lego, before floating through orcas recorded in Telegraph Cove near Vancouver, the Isle of Man Beach Buddies, readings from Lowry’s texts and his use of Frere Jacques as a refrain that echoes the ship’s engine, visions of impending capitalist ruination of the oceans, instructions for emergencies, Maccy-D’s litter, Fluxus Drip Music, Traa-dy-liooar (Manx for ‘time enough’) and the concept of salvage – what can or cannot be saved. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 2 introduces us to Malcolm Lowry, born on the Wirral in 1909. As a young man he sets sails around the globe, informing much of his later writing including 'Under the Volcano' and his 'Hear Us O Lord...' collection of short stories that very presciently alerts us, already in the late 1940s, to the encroachment of industrial development into our seas and fields. We conclude the second podcast trying to read Lowry excerpts into the raw winds on board the Liverpool to Isle of Man ferry. We use Lowry's romanticising of the Isle - he only visited as a child - as one basis of our consideration of smaller eco systems, a subject to which we shall return in a later episode. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 3 salvages only the voices from Podcast number 2 and gently layers them over a soundbed created from the track 'Hiss and Unwind' by Michael Ridge. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 4 starts again chatting with a 5-year old about where all the plastic - including our Lego - ends up. We sail and think and meet The Beach Buddies on the Isle of Man who have prompted 16,000 of the 85,000 residents to start picking plastic from their beaches. We let references to the extraordinary @LegoLostAtSea project on Twitter drift in, along with recordings made from the banks of the Mersey using VHF receivers (more of those later!) and snippets and from the Isle's BAAD ACID. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 5 strips away all our voices and invites you to speak over this, debate, reflect, argue, dismiss or suggest. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 6 listens to our oceans and waterways and listens to those for whom we are the trespassers. We think about escape - from sea, to sea, from the situation - and about noise pollution; plastic and noise pollution under and over the water. Oh, and eXXpedition and orcas and widening our listening. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 7 picks up on Lowry's 'Through the Panama' (on board the S.S. Diderot) in the company of Rob Keith, former Shell sea captain who sailed through the Panama only 19 years after Lowry and joined us to the Isle of Man. We think about the commercial routes our plastics take and the Suez Canal blocking in 2021, soundtracked by treated excerpts from 'Panama' by Lecuona Cuban Boys (1930) and the same-titled by Basin Street Six (1952) - listen closely as Rob almost 'becomes' Malcolm during his journey. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 8 reflects on some possible solutions. We chat with Dr Richard Selman, Head of Ecosystem Policy in the Environment Directorate of the Isle of Man Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture. He talks us through the Island's Biosphere status, their issues with nurdles and the experimental TT Zero electric-motorbike race. Of course, we also hear about the many hurdles the Island's authorities need to overcome, but with the distinct advantage of having the majority of the 80,000 residents behind positive changes. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 9 (Traa-Dy-Liooar?) gives us some much needed time to breathe and think. Traa-Dy-Liooar is a popular Manx saying, a literal time enough or manyana but by adding the question mark, we invite you to ponder what we need to postpone and what we need to do. The podcast is spacious, featuring 10 minutes of high tide at Douglas recorded with a hydrophone during our April 2022 visit by Chris Watson, fading into 10 minutes of shallow tide. Enter the underwater world of limpets and shrimps existing in different timescales, and only in the middle do we hear a quiet voice, that of Dr Olga Munroe from Leeds Beckett University’s Retail Institute (working with retail consumers and industries on sustainable solutions), reflecting on the sailing, the island and Lowry himself. Image of marble found on Douglas beach - a planet in one marble - by Helen Tookey MP3 version here.


Podcast number 10 brings together ideas around life-changes, partly inspired by Lowry’s 14 years as a proto-hippy spent living in a Dollarton shack between 1940-54. In 1975, the first episode of ‘The Good Life’ aired on BBC (audio excerpts included here to contextualise our message within Fair Use and Educational contexts) and introduces us to Tom Good who designs the little plastic toys for cereal packs, the very type of toys that are washing up for real on our beaches, as logged by @LegoLostAtSea on Twitter. He craves a better quality of life and gives up his job for something more sustainable at home. On the Isle of Man, we met the remarkable Clara Isaac who, in similar mode, left her banking job to make more of a difference, establishing the kerbside recyclecollect business. She explains how the process works and how she’s used technology to make recycling personal and sociable on the island. As we chat in the hotel bar, we hear bundles of glass bottles being binned, making us think of Lowry’s own problems and what his glass recycle bin may have sounded like. Musical excerpts courtesy of Isle of Man's BAAD ACID. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 11 ‘God Knows Where’ sees Band Of Holy Joy spend an afternoon in the pub with Malcolm Lowry and skate giddily over the abyss to God Knows Where in this 18 minute sound work for 'Hear Us O Lord From Heaven Thy Dwelling Place'. Words and voice by Johny Brown; music, field recordings and production by James Stephen Finn. Songs performed include 'How To Mend A Broken Heart' by Bee Gees and 'If I Were To Sail' by Band Of Holy Joy. MP3 version here.


Podcast number 12 'Wait, just a minute ...' is a collection of mostly 60-second clips put together after our third trip, celebrating this absolutely magical and warm place: intro by Sound Records to the BAAD ACID gig at the British (two days after Queen Elizabeth II dies), poet Sarah Hymas chatting to some passengers who have a 6ft reef tank at home, saying ‘Hello Fairies’ as the bus crosses Fairy Bridge, Rowan Henthorn (Marine Scientist) on the Blue Carbon Project, TT Race clips, Dr Michelle Haywood (diver and IoM Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture) on the Isle’s population imbalance, the (coal-driven?!) train from Port Erin to Douglas, Rowan and Michelle on IoM being 85% underwater, BAAD ACID “I could see me running away from my life …”, Rowan on offshore wind farms as protected areas, Sarah reading words collected from passengers (‘sarcastic fringehead’!), Liz and Alison chatting with some wild swimmers in Port Erin, Rowan on tracing IoM rivers in relation to tracking pollution, Frankie and Kris’ recording on the Laxey-Douglas train, Band of Holy Joy’s Johny and James reading on board, Ben Parry chatting with Bill from Beach Buddies (and meeting John) on the drive back from Laxey to Douglas and a short clip of Sea Sparrow performing live at the British. MP3 version here.


Podcast 13 ‘Our Little Barks are Frail’ is an audio décollage created by Matt Green combining field recordings, interview snippets and vinyl record manipulations. Opening the piece and at its heart are the fractured sounds of vinyl copies of ‘Manx Fishermen’s Evening Hymn’ from which this project and Malcolm Lowry’s short story collection took their names. Matt took two copies of the hymn to the island and whilst at Port Erin, taped them to his feet and walked them along the beach and through the sea. The piece’s frayed feeling comes from the scratches upon records such as these as well as turntable misuse and the passing of sound through old analog equipment. Other records used within the piece are either Manx themed or bought from charity shops on the island. MP3 version here.


Podcast 14 has been composed and narrated by Chris Watson from our April 2022 crossing. Follow our journey from the ferry port in Liverpool, described by Lowry as "that terrible city whose main street is the ocean”, across the Irish Sea to the very edge of Douglas on the island where we listen above and below the water surface, including the extraordinary sounds of limpets grazing. MP3 version here.


Podcast 15 ‘The network (that you can’t hear)’ takes some voices from the network’s June 2022 Zoom meeting and sinks them below three exquisite tracks from Sam Mitchell’s ‘Luminescence’ collection – ‘moths’, ‘things that writhe in the deep’ and ‘surf.’ What do we hear when the artists’ voices aren’t clear or they are perhaps confusing, off-course or submerged? Heard on headphones, we hear blips on the radar and signals from all directions from which the network approaches Lowry, the Isle of Man and environmental issues, including unexploded ammunition sunk in the Thames, changing bird song, semaphore, cut-up Lowry texts, traditions of shipbuilding, lost rivers, a Shell-owned drill ship in the Arctic Ocean, the loneliness of music and the potential of fountains to reveal invisible underground sounds. Voices: Alan Dunn, Frankie Mazzotta, Alison McIntyre, Liz Stirling, Hannah Dargavel-Leafe, David Jacques, Matt Green and Kristina Nenova. MP3 version here.


Podcast 16 ‘The network (that you can hear)’ presents only the artists’ voices from Podcast 15. MP3 version here.


Podcast 17 ‘Luminescence’ presents only the sounds from Sam Mitchell from Podcast 15, with huge thanks to Sam. MP3 version here.


Podcast 18 'Erin' has been created by Hannah Dargavel-Leafe using recordings she made at the Port of Erin that all use the architecture of the port, human made and natural, to record the sound the water. It begins with the underwater recordings between the side of the boat and the harbour wall, then moves on to the sound of waves coming up between the concrete sea defences, a natural spring pouring out of a pipe and then the sound of waves and drips amplified and distorted by a cave that creates an almost flange effect (two identical sounds slightly out of sync) on the waves (think of Lowry's use of the 'Frere Jaques' refrain to capture the sound of the ship's engine). Hannah invites us to think about Lowry’s short story ’Through the Panama’ and his reflections on the landscape as he sails through this very narrow, artificial waterway, alongside his writing of the inlet in Vancouver and the Mersey estuary as in-between spaces in ’The Forest Path to the Spring’. MP3 version here.


Podcast 19 'Emily Pankhurst’s Mother Was A Manx Woman' asks what do we actually think about, talk about and find out? This is an edited composition from recordings originally made by Kristina Nenova and Frankie Mazzotta as our network members took the one-hour Isle of Man Steam Railway from Port Erin to Douglas on Saturday 10th September 2022, discussing windshields, microphones, suffragettes, satire, live music, royal mourning and the fact that the Isle of Man introduced votes for women in 1881, twelve years before New Zealand became the first self-governing country in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections (additionally, Emily Pankhurst’s mother was a Manx woman). Sometimes it’s hard to make out what we are saying and thinking but that's been part of our visits to the Isle of Man, gathering first impressions that we aim to form into longer-term projects and relationships. MP3 version here.


Podcast 20 ‘Swimming with dolphins’ - The Art Doctors were invited to do some wild swimming in the south of the island before joining the group afterwards to capture on two microphones – with full consent – excited chatter about swimming with dolphins, increased awareness of seasons, the particular Isle of Man uses for plastic buckets, freezing surf, Niarbyl beach and sea pollution. Backing track c/o Sam Mitchell. Hear people listening to each other and let’s think about listening to our surrounds and non-human animals too. There are 95 miles of Isle of Man coastline with good numbers of pollack, bass, cuckoo wrasse, grey mullet, mackerel, Norway lobster, hermit crabs, queen scallops and dog cockles. As Lowry writes in the 1950s “tiny slender pale turquoise starfish, fat violet ones, and vermilion sunstars with twenty pointed arms like children’s paintings of the sun; barnacles kicking food into their mouths, polyps and sea-anemones, sea-cucumbers two feet long like orange dragons with spikes and horns.” Let’s listen to the sounds of these words, the words of swimmers and the sounds of our surrounds MP3 version here.


Hear Us - the extra sounds and images
Lowry Lounge 2021 - Rob's Panama Canal presentation, October 2021.
The Life and Death of Malcolm Lowry - Band of Holy Joy + BAD PUNK's Lowry collage part 1, Resonance FM, 8 April 2022.
Hear Us O Lord - Band of Holy Joy + BAD PUNK's Lowry playlist from Bryan Biggs, Resonance FM, 15 April 2022.
Isle of Man - BIOSPHERE - newsletter article, April 2022.
Merseyside Maritime Museum - installation of project display in foyer, May 2022.
ASLE Conference - link to PDF of Helen Tookey/Alan Dunn's presentation as part of the 'Time and Tide' Parallel Session at the invitation of the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment (UK and Ireland); staged at Northumbria University, Newcastle, September 2022.
Lowry Lounge 2022 - reports, sempaphore and toasts, October 2022.
Hear Us, 2022 - link to Kristina Nenova and Frankie Mazzotta's artist book (41mb PDF download - print available on request), October 2022.
Leeds Beckett University - installation of project display in Broadcasting Place foyer, February 2023.
Bluecoat - installation of project display in doorway to garden, February 2023.
Hear Us O Lord - link to PDF of Alan Dunn's presentation for TETI (Textures and Experiences of Trans-Industriality), April 2023.
Hear Us O Lord - exhibition, University of Leeds, December 2023.




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