From Shore To Sanctuary
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Recording Locations: Throughout Nova Scotia, including, Big Island, Port Morien, Lorne, Whitehill, Powells Point, Taylor Head, Red River, Liscomb, Caribou, Melmerby Beach and others.
Album Length: 67 mins
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From Shore To Sanctuary is an in depth discovery of the Wild Soundscapes and phonography of Nova Scotia. From its Northern Coast into its deep remaining forests and wetlands we explore these places through the recorded soundscapes of Mark Brennan.
With over 30 original recordings edited into three 22 minute long tracks, From Shore To Sanctuary takes you on an audio journey through Nova Scotia’s more wild places but does not exclude the obvious impact on the natural soundscape by humans.
This release captures the essence of the soundscape of Nova Scotia, the recordings tell a story of how we listen and what we hear around the province. You will hear the pristine wilderness areas, the honest days work of the inshore fishermen off shore to a rumbling train chugging out of the mist late one spring night far from town, and even the sounds of an Ice Breaker some 14km offshore.
“The album has been edited as if I were working on a painting, I have given each track form, substance, focal points and balance to produce what I think is an audio journey for the listener through the soundscape of Nova Scotia, the way it really is.”
1. The Acadian Forest 22.48
Over 12 original soundscapes mixed into once continuous track that conveys the beauty, spirit and joy of experiencing the Acadian Forests of Eastern Canada and New England.
We begin our journey through the Acadian Forests of Nova Scotia and Eastern Canada on a quiet marsh where dawn is just breaking. Spring Peepers are calling, a Barred Owl can be heard in the woods far off in the tree line which we can now just see with the first light. As the Frogs cease their calling and daylight approaches we find ourselves on a quiet lake, experiencing the stillness as a Common Nighthawk ends his booming calls for the night. This is the Acadian Forest, recorded at a remote lake in Nova Scotia in May. Hermit Thrushes, Kinglets and drumming woodpeckers can be heard as well as a solitary Swamp Sparrow calling by the lake shore.
Later a pair of Hermit Thrushes call back and forth through the forest as a gentle breeze can be heard in the tree tops. Our next destination as we continue our journey is in a virgin forest and at the base of a towering 80ft Red Spruce listening to a pair of Black Backed Woodpeckers feeding on the trunk, a Winter Wren and Ruffed Grouse sing and call and high overhead over a nearby wetland the Common Snipe can be heard winnowing.
The richness of the Acadian Forest can be felt as we experience the tropical calls of migrant Warblers and Fly Catchers and a lone American Robin singing while a Downy Woodpecker drums opposite him. This recording was used in my film, The Acadian Forest, The Story So Far.
Any recording of the Acadian Forest wouldn’t be complete without the song of the Veery, the thrush of the deep river valleys, singing his ‘veer, veer, veer’ song. This was recorded in the famous Margaree Valley, right next to the Margaree River, a heritage river in Nova Scotia. Next we continue near water in the wilderness of Gully Lake, where the hermit Willard Kitchener Macdonald lived for 60 years in a small log cabin deep in this Acadian Forest after leaving a troop train. This area is protected now and I had the pleasure of meeting Willard a few years ago before he passed away whilst being a part of the team working towards making Gully Lake a wilderness area. Again the ‘flute of the forest’, the Hermit Thrush and American Redstart, sing after a heavy downpour.
Finally our final visit is high up in the Pines where a pair of Northern Flickers call back and forth, the male displaying to the female whilst I was recording this. The wind is haunting in this track, made on a cold, late April day.
At over 22 minutes, these sounds of the Acadian Forest evoke a timeless feeling, free of human noise and represent intact natural areas, something we can all relate too.
2. Northern Coast 21.20
Northern Coast is a journey through the varying soundscapes of Nova Scotia’s most northerly coastlines. Situated on Canada’s East coast its acoustic ‘song’ varies as much as the coastline itself. Recorded in full stereo with a variety of recording equipment, Mark Brennan has taken 2 years to produce this 21 minute track.
We start our journey gently on the Northumberland Strait at Melmerby Beach where temperatures are dipping into the -20 degrees C, offshore is a Canadian ice breaker some 14km away. From winter amongst the ice we travel into spring and Taylor Head where the morning chorus in early April is in full swing. We hear the Wood Frog, the boats of the lobster fishermen in May as we find ourselves in tiny coves overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Late spring brings storms as huge waves pound a rocky shoreline at Moore’s Cove, Cape Breton at dawn, while a Song Sparrow sings above the roar. Rocks tumble and crash through surf on the Atlantic Coast as Terns protect their nests from maurading crows. Then comes silence where on the Northumberland Strait near Powells Point, a calm summer morning, gentle waves wash up in an inlet, the sounds of Gulls and a Bald Eagle enter the soundscape.
Our journey continues through summer in a coastal marsh at Caribou Island, Pictou County where Red Wing Blackbirds call from the Bull Rushes and listen to the deep rhythmic base of a fishing boat far offshore. As fall begins the shorebird migration has begun at Port Morien and Donkin, Cape Breton Island. We hear the sounds of Gulls gathered near a dead Minke Whale and then the mudflats of a huge sandbar at dawn where wind rushes through stunted Larch while Yellow Legs and Gulls call in the dawn light. We have come full circle and once again hear the Arctic wind at Big Island, amongst the frozen ice cakes of the coast.
3. Night 22.28
The sounds of night, the ones we seldom hear. When the nocturnal species of the Forests and Wetlands awake. The album takes in many of my favorite recordings from my ventures into the woods at night or before first light at various times of the year. It really is wonderful to listen to these sounds, without our eyes and ears, it lets our imaginations run a little wild! Most of these recordings come from the forests of Nova Scotia, Canada and perhaps my favorite, ‘Coyote Family’ is a rare ‘look’ into the sounds from two Coyote families feeding on a dead Moose..
Other recordings include a family of Beavers feeding at night to the landing of Canada Geese on a lake in the early morning and the power of a thundering train as it rumbles through a country railway crossing at midnight in the Spring its air horn echoing over the landscape. The first light of the new day brings us to the edge of an Alder Wetland in the Boreal forest and the Barred owl calls as the wings of Little Brown Bats are heard amongst the gurgle of a stream and the North wind in the Spruce (also used in the Water album).
View A Short Film Of Recording In -19 Deg C At Big Island, Nova Scotia for ‘Coastline’