Where to start? Opening up The Folkestone Lighthouse EP instantly presents the listener/explorer with a loose wad of folded card: a muddle of text and image, beautifully crafted and yet haphazardly presented. It’s not ready yet. To open the Jackdaw folder is to feel as though one is peeking at a personal research project, yet to be neatly prepared for the public consumer’s convenience, perhaps never intended to shared, perhaps still in a work progress. There are postcard pictures of the Folkestone Lighthouse itself, extracts from literary works, a map of the Folkestone area, and a fact file of information such as the lighthouse lamp wattage, postcode and OS grid co-ordinates. My previous exposure to Wist Rec was via the Book Report Series, which gracefully entwined a set of classic novellas with a 3” CDR inspired by the book itself. The reader/listener was set at ease by the fact that entry points were unmistakably clear – listen from the beginning, start reading from the first page. In contrast, The Folkestone Lighthouse EP is delightfully devoid of clear instruction. What do I read first? Do I listen while I read?
Initially I chose to use the music as a soundtrack to my first thorough exploration of the folder’s contents. The EP is combination of field recording (taken from various locations within and around the lighthouse) and conventional instrumentation, with cello melody rising carefully up through the noisy howl of wind coursing across granite walls. An electronic throb and pulse mimics the cyclical rhythm of the light as it swings glaringly into view and then dims, fading within the fog momentarily before emerging once more a short while later, like the haunting, incessant lure that drive’s the obsessive will to research and immerse oneself in the Folkestone Lighthouse. The points at which composition and field recording are granted equal prominence undoubtedly offer up the music’s most captivating stretches; half-spoken piano spills tumble in and trail off beneath the chatter of vintage controllers and rope pulleys. The lighthouse is somewhere within the sonic abstraction – formed as a faint outline via the music’s assembly of lo-fi samples and muffled instrument – and when coupled with the folder’s selection of paperwork, they create the alluring first glimmers of understanding rather than the fulfilment of absolute comprehension. The lighthouse is visible at a distance; still obscured by a fog that this documentation can only begin to penetrate.