TV soundtrack release was recorded on old lighthouse at the Hythe
COLCHESTER-BAsed Dead Rat Orchestra have just released the haunting soundtrack they recorded for a BBC documentary about an obscure bird hunt on a remote island.
The electro-experimental outfit wrote the music for the Guga Hunters of Ness, which was screened last year. and feature the last place in the UK where young gannets – guga in Gaelic – are hunted for their meat.
Daniel Merrill, one of group’s three members, says: “The annual hunt has happened for more than 400 years and is a significant part of local tradition. It’s under threat from increasingly restrictive pressures from the European Union.
“This is a sensitive area of debate, but within it is a beautiful and striking look at the traditions in the most remote areas of our isles, which, at times, feel like another world, but on our doorsteps.”
After watching the first cuts of the documentary, Merrill and fellow musicians Robin Alderton and Nathaniel Mann, wrote and then recorded the music aboard the Colne Light Ship, moores at the Hythe, Colchester.
Merril adds: “It’s probably the only studio in the world where the acoustics change with the rising and falling of the tide.”
The programme’s director, Mike Day, says: “Crafting the soundtrack on board a decommissioned light ship with the Dead Rat Orchestra was an integral part of recreating the experience for the audience.
“Me and the Rats camped out for the best part of a week, intent on transporting the listener on the journey the ten men of Ness endure.
“The band extensively researched old melodies from Ness and also made field recordings of a local church choir. They have embodied the experience, fusing the new and the old in a very special piece of music.”
Since forming in 2002, the Dead Rats have played regularly throughout the UK and internationally, often devising each performance specifically for the particular space where they are playing, including former abattoirs, churches, concert halls to coppices in the woods.
Over the past two years the trio have also supported, collaborated and played with the likes of Baby Dee, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Marc Almond and Eric Chenaux.
The album, Guga Hunters of Ness, came out last week.
The group will be performing the music at Colchester Arts Centre tonight, from 8pm.
Tickets cost £6, from the box office on 01206 500900.