God keep our land glorious and rich

Composer: Alec Hall
For saxophone quartet and electronic devices

Sampling and field recording play an important role in my works, enabling a blurring of the frame between musical intention and noise-based sounds, as well as an anthropological quality that stems from the source materials. With the prompt of the New Chapter commission, my mind turned toward some of the lesser-told stories in Canada. The Athabasca Oil Sands, outsize a part of the economy as they may be, are simultaneously a commonly discussed aspect of Canadian society, yet, due to the remote location and the incomprehensible enormity of their physical scale, a totally unknown quantity. The particularities of the Oil Sands are cognitively invisible. I traveled to Fort McMurray and the surrounding area in October 2017, recording as much of the soundscape as I could, and taking daily notes on my experience.

I travelled to Fort McMurray and the surrounding area in October of 2017. Despite the difficulties in accessing various sites, I recorded the sounds of the environment as much as I could, while making notes on a daily basis about my experience.

Travelling 500 miles in only two days, moving from one oilfield to the next, with very obvious sound equipment, I met a variety of people intrigued by my work who were open to talking to me about their relationship to the tar sands. 

The work is a series of successive images that bear witness to the different sites I visited.

Alec Hall