The Year Without a Summer
Composed and realized by: WERNER CEE
Produced by: Deutschlandradio Kultur 2013
Radio Editor: Marcus Gammel
Original Language English / Duration: 47‘31
Based on the poem „Darkness“ by Lord Byron (1816)
„Cloud Songs“ by Juna Robin (2010)
List of Patents ref. Goeengineering from the US Patent and Trademark Office. Prologue by Benjamin Franklin (1784)
In the year 1816, as a consequence of a vulcanic eruption in Indonesia, dry haze veiled the sky over vast parts of the Northern hemisphere. The dimmed sunlight even had its repercussions in the literary world – it inspired Lord Byron to write his famous poem „Darkness“.
It was the densest dry haze in Euorpe since the late middle ages and it was mainly in the troposphere- It consisted of sulphuric acid aerosols and ist overall mass amounted to about 200 megatons. Several authors have indicated that this haze triggered an ecological and social crisis in different places of the Northern hemisphere. Misharvests led to famines and epidemies.
The year 1816 went down in history as the „year without a summer“.
It was the first scientifically investigated case of dry haze and to this day, it constitutes a paradigm of this phenomenon, a challenge for every scientist actually dealing with climate models.
Paul Crutzen, Nobel prize winner, proposes to employ the effects of spreading sulphuric aerosols in the atmosphere for weather modification.
The composition Dry Haze is the soundtrack to the shaded atmsophere/world, the twilight as it presented itself after big volcanic eruptions and might again be imminent if scientist’s plans were put into practise.
Byron ́s texts are spoken/sung by the great Northumberland folk band The Unthanks,. Their part is based on a completely improvised and perfectly congenial recording session with Becky and Rachel Unthank. For the first time in their creative career, Rachel and Becky Unthank explored the „spoken word“. Their melancholic voices, their authenticity and boldness in approaching at first sight unconventional musical challenges made them the ideal choice for a musical interpretation of Lord Byron’s romantic poem. Not least due to their dedication, „Dry Haze“ reminds the listener more of a musical production deeply rooted in the tradition of the late 60s/early 70s than of what we’de expect of a „radio drama“.
At the same time haunting and pure, their voices lend a special power to Byron’s well-known words, conjure up the apocalypse while at the same time reminding us of the world ́s beauty.
The piece confronts Lord Byron’s apocalyptic outlook with modern-day patents by geo-engineers designed to mitigate global warming by artificially triggering the effects of a vulcanic eruption comparable to the one of 1816, no matter how devastating they were, as well as with excerpts from the contemporary cycle of poems „Cloud Songs“ by Juna Robin dealing with the vision of man-controlled climate.
On the musical level, Werner Cee’s e-ch’in and Alf-Terje Hanas e-guitar add further emphasis to the imagery evoked by word and sound – acoustic manipulations of atmospheres, from psychedelic dreamlike sunsets to toxic thunderstorms.
Thus, the line-up features musicians from 4 European countries.
„Dry Haze“ is the second part of Werner Cee’s sound art triptych „The Anthropocene“ centering on the relationship between the forces of nature and their perception/manipulation by humanity.
Becky Unthank: speaks and sings „Darkness“
Rachel Unthank: speaks and sings „Darkness“
Adrian Mcnally: Prologue and List of Patents
Neville Tranter, Netherlands: Cloud Songs
Choir Voices: Kamer… Riga / Latvia
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