Silence, a new Irish feature film is getting its international premier at the BFI London Film Festival. It is screening at the ICA on Thursday 18th October at 18:45 and on Saturday 20th at 4pm at Screen on the Green as part of the London film Festival. Touch artist Chris Watson was one of the contributing sound recordists and also contributed sounds to the film.

The feature film follows Eoghan, a sound recordist who is returning to Ireland for the first time in 15 years. The reason for his return is a job offer: to record landscapes free from man-made sound. His quest takes him to remote terrain, away from towns and villages. Throughout his journey, he is drawn into a series of encounters and conversations which gradually divert his attention towards a more intangible silence, one that is bound up with the sounds of the life he had left behind.

It has received a very positive review from ‘Time Out’ in England. Wally Hammond wrote “gently mesmeric, seductively mournful, surprising and unquiet meditation on man, memory and landscape”. It was also the subject of a 6 column spread in the latest issue of ‘Sight and Sound’ magazine written by Frances Morgan.

Chris Watson – “Sunrise in the Sukau Rainforest” | framework September 2012


framework:seasonal issue #3, autumn 2012
Chris Watson: Sunrise in the Sukau Rainforest
2.5 hour high resolution audio dvdr

The framework:seaonal series of fund-raising audio releases continues with a very special issue #3 – the great chris watson, who, we’re sure, needs no introduction amongst framework listeners, has donated a single-take, 2.5 hour field recording from the rainforests of borneo, recorded and published at its full length at higher-than-cd audio quality. this stunning recording has never before been released, and has been donated by the artist in support of framework radio. it is available only through framework, in exchange for your donation of €20 of more on the framework website.

Each dvdr is slow burnt onto the highest quality taiyo yuden archival discs, and is hand-stamped with the custom-made image of a borneo-native mushroom, in keeping with the previous issues of the seasonal series. each is housed in an offset and folio printed sleeve from a local printing press, on paper from a local papermill, both here in the southeast estonian town of räpina. the insert as well is printed on additive-free paper from the räpina mill. these audio dvdr’s will play in any standard dvd player, or on any computer.

The details:

Recorded during October 2011 by the river Kinabatangen, Sabah, Borneo from 0430h using Sennheiser MKH 8040/30 middle and side array to a Nagra ARES Pll recorder at 48Khz 16 Bits .wav

“The Sukau rainforest is a relatively narrow strip of primary forest either side of the banks of the river Kinabatangen in Sabah, Borneo. Access to the forest floor is very difficult as there are no trails, however at the back of the lodge where I was staying there was a narrow old and decaying boardwalk that led, snake like, through the dense undergrowth and out into what felt like another world. Each morning for over a week I left my lodge around 0400h and set off carefully along a zig zag pattern of soft and splintered planks into the velvet darkness. Either side of the red glow from my head torch fireflies and other unknown bioluminescent insects blinked and flashed their alien languages whilst dead ahead the small piercing red reflecting eyes of hunting bats streaked, missile like, directly towards me. On several mornings my GPS guided me to a favourite looping curve at the furthermost point of the 2Km trail where I could stop and fix my mikes in a tree whilst trying to bat off the myriad host of mosquitos that quickly find anything warm blooded that is stationary. I rigged and set away the recording before quietly moving off, my ears straining to hear the distant songs of gibbons, the shrieks of macaques and the low whistle of a pitta. Sunrise, such as it is 30m below the canopy, is also accompanied by the slow drip of condensation percolating down through the grey green gloom from a canopy 30m above as the forest is slowly revealed.” (Chris Watson)

Sunrise in the Sukau rainforest is published by Touch Music

To order your copy go to the framework website and donate €20 or more via the donations bar on the right, or click the ‘donate’ button below and do the same. we’ll be in touch to confirm the best shipping address. copies of previous issues of framework:seasonal are also still available – donate €20 or more per issue and let us know which ones you’d like!

The Uranus Music Prize 2012

As the dust settles on another year of uninspired Mercury Music Prize nominations, The Liminal have decided upon a selection of 12 albums that far better represent the variety of extraordinary music being produced in Britain today…

Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma

TO42 - El Tren Fantasma - Chris Watson

The title of the sound recordist Chris Watson’s latest CD, borrowed from a Mexican film from the 1920s, translates as “The Ghost Train”. The name makes reference to the fact that the recordings were made while he was working on the BBC show Great Railway Journeys, where he took a ride on one of the very last passenger trains which ran from Mexico’s Pacific coast to the Gulf on the other side, a journey that since 1999 can no longer be made. However, as you listen to it while studying a map of the route, from Los Mochis in the west, through Chihuahua and Mexico City to Veracruz on the east, you begin to trace a number of branch lines which lead off from the main line. You find yourself making connections, hitching your wagon to a number of different trains, in order to chase down some fascinating – and very resonant – ghosts from Mexico’s history.

The Uranus Prize
You can buy this album in the TouchShop here

Interview with Chris Watson by Katja Seltmann | 24th August 2012

You can hear an interview with Chris recorded over Skype for the forthcoming Touch.30 live event in New York City in September 2012.

Listen to the interview [1:02:53]

Marcus Davidson will be conducting “The Bee Symphony” and a new piece, the second in a trilogy, “Sea Polyphonies” on September 15th (Chris will not be present). You can hear an interview with him, also conducted by Katja, here.

Touch.30 live in NYC

Chris Watson wins for The Wire (Radio 4) “Radio Personality of the Year” BPG 2012 Award

Broadcasting Press Guild Award for The Wire

The Guardian reviews the broadcast:


Sunday 2 January, 2011

Chris Watson visits The WIRED Lab project in Australia, which is inspired by the work of biomedical scientist and composer Alan Lamb, who has long been fascinated by the extraordinary sounds created when the wind and the weather interact with telegraph wires or fencing cables stretched across the landscape. Here, Chris not only meets Alan and his colleagues Sarah Last and Dave Burraston to find out more about the history and evolution of their work with wire structures, but also records for himself the music of the wires.

Presenter Chris Watson
Producer Sarah Blunt

Bang Goes the Theory | BBC1 Monday 19th March 2012

Series 6, Is Life Too Loud?

2/8. The team asks if modern life is damaging our ears. Jem records a centipede’s footsteps.

The team asks whether modern life is damaging our ears. Dallas explores how safety-conscious scientists are putting the noise back into driving, Liz learns to like the sound of being sick, and Jem sets out to record the sound of a centipede’s footsteps.

The programme is produced in partnership with the Open University.

Chris features in the film recording insects inside an anechoic chamber at the University of Salford.

You can see a clip from the programme here.

Chris wins the RTS CENTRE AWARD



This award goes to the person, team or organisation whose work has made an outstanding contribution to any aspect of the industry — through broadcasting, production or technical sectors within the region and beyond. Their work, either in front of the camera or behind the scenes, should have made a significant and lasting impact on audiences and viewers in the North East and the Borders — and on a wider stage. The judges are keen to invite nominations from as broad a spectrum of talents as possible. Evidence of recent exceptional achievement(s) should be included. Nominations for the Centre Award were sent in confidence to the Chair of the Judges.

The Judges said:

Tonight’s recipient is described as “one of the most modest, unassuming people you will ever meet.” That counts a few of us out!

Our winner is one of the world’s foremost wildlife sound recordists, whose major credits include productions like THE LIFE OF BIRDS (which won him a BAFTA in 1998), THE BLUE PLANET, THE LIFE OF MAMMALS and more recently the sensational FROZEN PLANET.

He started his career at Tyne Tees TV in the 1980’s, and was soon developing a passionate interest in recording the sounds of wildlife, which led to major innovations in recording natural sound in often difficult, dangerous and challenging environments; an enrichment of sound recording techniques in the industry generally, and raising the bar in the understanding of the sounds of the natural world.

Although wildlife has always been his main focus, he’s also expanded into experimental sound-work — for example the sound installation he created for Constable’s ‘Cornfield’ at the National Gallery in London.

Our winner is known for his generosity in sharing and explaining his techniques, and his commitment to the importance of training and inspiring others.

Guest Presenter: PETER SALMON

Silence – Harvest Films [Dublin]

Chris has contributed sounds to the Irish film, Silence (Harvest Films, 2012)
Jameson Dublin Film Festival | Thurs 23rd February 2012
Lighthouse Cinema 1, Smithfield, Dublin | 8:45pm

Inside Out | BBC TV Interview

You can watch an interview with Chris using BBC iPlayer here
Inside Out is a regional magazine with Chris Jackson. We follow Darlington football club’s battle to survive, and meet the man who put the sound to David Attenborough’s Frozen Planet.
This programme is available to view until 8pm February 6th 2012

Alder Hey Interview

“Last year I interviewed sound recordist Chris Watson on the subject of noise for a piece exploring the use of birdsong at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool…”

On the nature of things


The magnificent pictures that our specialist cameramen produce for the BBC Natural History Unit’s stunning wildlife documentaries are a high point of UK television. But, as always, the pictures are pretty useless without the sound that goes with them. CHRIS WATSON is one of the world’s leading location sound recordists, with a remarkable portfolio of work including ‘The Frozen Planet’, ‘The Life of Mammals’ and ‘The Life of Birds’.

On January 12th the RTS, in association with Newcastle University, is promoting an evening event with Chris that will demonstrate the lengths he goes to capturing the remarkable sound of the natural world – or as Chris puts it, ‘putting a microphone where you can’t put your ears’.

For more details of this un-missable event, go to The event is free, but registration is essential through our Eventbrite booking service.

The Poetry of Radio | The Colour of Sound

The Poetry of Radio
The Colour of Sound
By Seán Street

To Be Published 6th February 2012 by Routledge – 146 pages

This book explores the idea of the poetic in radio and sound as well as the concept of pure sound as poetry, both historically and within a contemporary perspective, examining examples of makers and works internationally.

Chris Watson Sound Quiz on Springwatch | BBC2 26th December

Chris Watson’s sound quiz for Springwatch (BBC2 tonight at 7pm). Answers tonight!

Stimulus Respond

Chris has responded to the latest edition of “Stimulus Respond – 13 Chaos”. You can find out more here

Review of El Tren Fantasma in The Quietus

You can read a review by Luke Turner in The Quietus

El Tren Fantasma | BBC Best Albums of November 2011

El Tren Fantasma has been listed as one of the BBCs Best Albums of November 2011
“It’s during the points of human absence that El Tren Fantasma works best. Here Watson’s ability to create whole worlds, entire lifetimes in the listener’s imagination, beyond the moment of recording, comes to the fore. Brushwood and tall grass sway beneath the breeze crossing canyon slopes, while constant cicada chatter is punctuated by the distinctive calls of woodpecker and crow.”

Review of El Tren Fantasma by Andrew Weatherall

“A benchmark in field recording not to mention a map of the soul, an insight into the human condition and a key to dreams.” (Caught by the river)
You can read the full review here and buy the album and 12″ vinyl in the TouchShop

TO:42V | El Tren Fantasma – The Signal Man’s Mix

TO42V - El Tren Fantasma (The Signal Mans Mix) - Chris Watson

12″ Vinyl + 320 kbps MP3 files of the two vinyl tracks

Cut by Jason @ Transition
Artwork & Design by Jon Wozencroft

Track listing:

Side A
1. El Divisadero – The Telegraph 7:56

Side B
2. Veracruz – The Tunnel 7:54

The Frozen Planet | BBC1 9pm 26th October 2011

Chris Watson has contributed sound recordings to the new series by David Attenborough,

The Frozen Planet.

The first of seven episodes, “To the Ends of the Earth”, explores the poles of our planet, where worlds of ice and snow are inhabited by bizarre and extremely hardy creatures. At the North Pole, as the sun returns after six months of darkness, two polar bears show their tender side and humpback whales join the world’s largest gathering of seabirds to feast in Alaskan waters…

New album “El Tren Fantasma” | 14th November 2011

Chris Watson’s new album, El Tren Fantasma, is due for release in the UK on 14th November 2011. A two track EP (vinyl) will be available shortly after…

Here is more information:

[Touch # TO:42]
CD – 10 tracks – 65 minutes

Artwork: Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham

Track listing:

01: La Anunciante
02: Los Mochis
03: Sierra Tarahumara
04: El Divisadero
05: Crucero La Joya
06: Chihuahua
07: Aguascalientes
08: Mexico D.F.
09: El Tajin; El dia y La noche
10: Veracruz

“Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history.”

El Tren Fantasma, (The Ghost Train), is Chris Watson’s 4th solo album for Touch, and his first since Weather Report in 2003, which was named as one of the albums you should hear before you die in The Guardian. A Radio programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 30 Oct, 2010, produced by Sarah Blunt, and described as “a thrilling acoustic journey across the heart of Mexico from Pacific to Atlantic coast using archive recordings to recreate a rail passenger service which no longer exists. It’s now more than a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across country. Chris Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel this route. As sound recordist he was part of the film crew working on a programme in the BBC TV series Great Railways Journeys. Now, in this album, the journey of the ‘ghost train’ is recreated, evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects.

The radio broadcast received national press coverage in the UK:

The Observer:

It is over a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across the country but here sound recordist Chris Watson recreates its atmospheric journey with the help of the train recordings he made while working on the BBC television series Great Railway Journeys… through desert and city, but it is the rocking rhythms of the train itself that prove most memorable. [Stephanie Billen]

The Financial Times:

El Tren Fantasma (8pm) is Archive on 4’s recollection of a trans-Mexico rail journey by sound recordist Chris Watson. From desert to rainforest, hummingbirds’ wings to the boom of heat rising from the Copper Canyon, it recalls a beloved passenger train system abandoned by privatisation. **** [Martin Hoyle]

The Daily Telegraph:

Sometimes, radio can awaken the mind and sharpen the senses like no other medium. This “sound portrait” of a now-abandoned railway line that used to run between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico is a good case in point. Captured by sound recordist Chris Watson more than a decade ago, it jostles with human, animal and mechanical life, filling the room with an atmosphere that is more richly evocative of Central America than any TV travel show I’ve seen. Diesel engines thrum, cicadas chirrup and passengers chatter, sing and argue. [Pete Naughton]