A piece, split into four parts, attempting to imagine and evoke the interior world of a Common Swift (apus apus) in its first four years of life. After dropping from its nest and taking its first flight, a swift will spend this period almost entirely airborne, going months or years at a time without ever landing and then only briefly. Feeding and even sleeping in flight, swifts will only come back down for an extended period when they are old enough to mate. Even after this point, the vast remainder of their lives will be spent in the air, during which time they can travel over a million kilometres.
I’ve always loved swifts, but they’ve held special meaning for me ever since I moved into my current flat in North Somerset a few years ago and realised that some were nesting in the roof here. Not three feet from my desk where I wrote and recorded this piece, I can hear them shuffling and rustling above me in the early summer. Seeing them scream and swoop overhead with seemingly boundless freedom for a couple of months of the year is one of my favourite things about living where I do.
Common swifts spend most of the year in Africa, arriving back in the UK and across the rest of Northern Europe in late April / early May to breed and raise chicks. I started writing and recording this album when they left at the start of August in 2022, with the aim of finishing it by the time they returned. I heard my first swift of the year last week, so I think I just about managed it.
Available as 320k MP3 or 24bit FLAC
1. Part One - Beneath the Rafters - 08:56
2. Part Two - Unihemispheric Slow-Wave Sleep - 07:48
3. Part Three - Screaming Drift - 06:38
4. Part Four - The Endless Void - 10:46
Oliver Barrett is a musician and illustrator based in Somerset. Having played in various bands, Oliver has most recently put out several releases under his 'Petrels' moniker on various labels internationally including Denovali, Tartaruga, and Patient Sounds. As a composer he has had work commissioned by the BFI, London Word Festival and the Southbank Centre amongst others. A multi-instrumentalist, Oliver's musical practice ranges from solo electronics, acoustic improvisation, band work, and sound art, to orchestral arrangements and song, drawing influences from a broad spectrum.