Shrimp-scuttling ambience on Jana Winderen – The Noisiest Guys on the Planet

If you live in Ireland, you get fairly used to waking up to the sound of raindrops on glass, then pulling the blinds to let a few shades of grey ooze in. And if it’s Monday in the middle of October, you’re hitting the snooze button like an 80s arcade game junkie.

This morning I’m not exactly seizing the day in an inspirational quote poster way, but this release from Norwegian sound artist Jana Winderen is a better sensory comfort blanket than duvet over the head oblivion, with an underwater recording of Nordic shrimp forming an oddly serene dialogue with the waves of skittery droplets hitting my window.

Winderen is an award-winning artist with an academic background in fine art and marine biology, whose explorations in field recordings take her to glaciers, ice crevasses and deep below the ocean surface, recording with ultrasound equipment and specialist hydrophones on 100-metre cables. Over the last 15 years or so, she has been commissioned for dozens of exhibitions, installations and performances, from the Guggenheim to Unsound and Bluedot festivals, and has collaborated with eminent wildlife recordist and Cabaret Voltaire founder Chris Watson.

Winderen’s main source of sonic inspiration is the order of decapods — 10-legged crustaceans that include lobsters, crayfish and shrimp. Her official website thumbnail logo is a (probably self-drawn) logo of a shrimp, and she also provided the illustration for this latest cassette release on Touch Records.

Originally recorded in 2009 with the help of the Norway Institute of Marine Research, The Noisiest Guys on the Planet captures the chattering and scuttling of shrimp foraging on the ocean floor, with an occasional grisly snap, as they use their front appendages to paralyse small fish. These little guys really are noisy too — some shrimp can snap at over 200 decibels.

Stripped of its ocean floor killing spree context, The Noisiest Guys on the Planet has an almost mulchy, trickly ambience, with the snaps popping like crackling embers and the crustaceans’ legwork pitter-pattering into a hypnotic white noise drone. And the low frequency metallic hum of passing boats fuses with the grating engine of the 46a Dublin Bus wheezing past my window every 10 minutes. I think I’ll stick this on repeat until the sun comes out.

  • Listen to The Noisiest Guys on the Planet on Bandcamp below. Preorder the cassette from Touch here.