The sounds of a thunderstorm approaching in the Sumatran rainforest.
My recent sound recording expedition to Sumatra was tough and intense. We ran into a variety of challenges as soon as we arrived in the frontier village that would be our base camp. From vertical hiking through thick jungle undergrowth, myriad of leeches, fierce biting ants, mosquitoes and spiky vegetation to fungal infections, intestinal worms and food poisoning – it’s been hard work to capture good soundscapes there. What better metaphor for our struggles than this recording?
Most elements you can hear here are pretty intense and dissonant. Harsh insect calls, alarmed birds, rolling thunder – not really a relaxing atmosphere. It all builds up until the downpour, and then it releases into more rain and insect chorus.
Our experience followed a similar pattern, with harsh conditions as soon as we got there, things getting a bit easier as we acclimatised, and then more challenges as we pushed ourselves a bit too hard. A humbling experience to say the least – and lots of lessons learned the hard way. This one-hour selection was captured at dusk, as the sun was setting over the rainforest and a thunderstorm was closing in. The timing was perfect as on most days the rain would start earlier and the dusk chorus would basically be non-existent. This time around we could hear the thunder but the torrential downpour only started after the dusk chorus was over.