Parakeets

The phenomenon of ring necked parakeets in London parks and gardens has been well documented over the years. There are various theories regarding the origins of their presence (film set escapees, domestic pets turned feral, or a rather dubious one involving Jimi Hendrix), and they even been the subject of a BBC Nature documentary.

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There has definitely been a noticeable increase in their numbers over my time living in London. I still recall the novelty of the first time I saw them flying around Greenwich Park. Nowadays, I see and hear them daily visiting the gardens of Catford. In fact, I’m pretty sure that their abrasive squawks are now a more common sound than the chirping of sparrows or the cooing of pigeons.

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This track started of as a proof of concept. I wanted to do a piece that incorporated parakeet sounds, and it seemed suited to some sort of break beat, once it became apparent that their squawking occupied similar frequencies to that of made by scratching vinyl on a turntable.

All this has taken much longer than originally anticipated – mainly because of the difficulty of recording these green feathered bastards in their semi-natural environmental. I now realise that I am still very much a novice when it comes to field recording, and that there is a lot more to this than just standing in the park with your mobile phone. I lost count of how many trips to Mountsfield Park resulted in capturing nothing but the white noise of a wintery breeze or an overhead Airbus A318. I started to become convinced that the parakeets were deliberately sabotaging my efforts, by flying off or staying silent whenever I approached. The whole task was starting to become like one of those featurettes they have at the end of each episode of Blue Planet, where they reveal that it has taken five years to film the mating rituals of the sea slug.

Fortunately, I was able to salvage a small collection of usable samples that I have been able to incorporate into the piece, and the rest of the music has been relatively straight forward to compile.

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The whirring sounds at the start come from a rather knackered Altai VC1 Echo Chamber, that I had been fiddling about with. I came up with some dub-style bass lines to fit around the drums, and threw in some analogue synthesizer and Mellotron flutes for good measure. I even managed to sneak in a cheeky guitar solo towards the end.

Update: January 2020

Since my original post, there are now some alternative versions of Parakeets available, with the release of A205 EP.

Parakeets (A205) is a different version to what will appear on the LP, with a slightly different (and shorter) arrangement. The Bandcamp download also includes a bonus track Parakeets (Melodica version) which is dub-inspired remix of this track.

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