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48 l September 2014


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installation


Vintage Tannoy PA speakers are still clearly visible in Q121 – and inspired the artist to approach the brand


The drone beetle installation in R52 represents the darker side of flight


creating a ‘response’ to the drones of the Lancasters and Wellingtons. “I wanted to get an interplay between the sound of war and an answer to that from human voices coming from


an unknown space.” Enlisting the help of a male voice choir comprised of 10 men most of whom who used to work at the site, he assembled them in the return tunnel and recorded their


wordless singing, inspired by, and partly emulating, the arch of aircraft noise, and exploiting the resonant notes of the space. McBurnie used a stereo pair of AT3032s to record the voices in the vastness of the tunnel, with reflections captured via a Sennheiser MKH60 and a split distant pair of Sennheiser MKH 406s. So to the finished installation. Once entering building Q121 – having discarded their shoes (“almost as an act of reverence to respect the space,” says the composer) – visitors are treated to the sound of


nightingales overlapping with the bombers, fading back to the nightingales and then the cycle repeats but this time with the choir recording emanating from the return tunnel but permeating the whole structure, thanks to the acoustic qualities of the building. A Tascam HD24 was used to playback the multi- tracked looped performance. McIntyre-Burnie’s ’work is hypnotic and absorbing, solemn and forbidding in the drone passages but brightened by the birdsong: a juxtaposition of times of peace and terror. It


completely transformed and filled the space – and all with only (effectively) six speakers and no subs. Why did the artist approach Tannoy to get involved? The answer is clear as you leave Q121: vintage Tannoy horns still adorn the building, and were evidently part of the working PA for the facility back in the day.


The second building houses the rest of the project. Entering R52, you are met with an unsettling, denser composition, based in and around a wooden tunnel used for aerodynamic


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