Shotfiring in Coal Mines: detailed background notes to the composition

landschaft 033a

Available to listen to and buy at Bandcamp

Release date: 11 January 2023

Format: digital download. Artwork and typography by Landschaft.

The work explained

This album comprises the single title work. A big slab of low frequency sonic texture. It marks a return to my ambient style, deep and dark. It is informed by the geography, geology and history beneath my feet as I type now. I am, as the crow flies within a few hundred metres of eight former coal mine pitheads:

Whitemoor/Newcastle: 1412m

Radford: 1891m

Wollaton: 4277m

Clifton: 4540m

Bestwood: 5623m

Bulwell ‘Shonky’: 5221m

Babbington: 2881m

Gedling: 5126m

Beyond that orbit, many more, along with countless other deep mines, bell pits, surface works dating back to mediaeval times. Years of blood and sweat, now a fading memory.

Where this touched me was the oft repeated warning at school, “you’d better get your head down lad, or you’ll end up down t’ pit.” I didn’t enter that world; my brothers in law did. By the time I finished my studies, the pits were closing, the miner’s strike was in full swing, society was about to pivot away from heavy industry courtesy of Thatcher era policies that some may see as fortuitous; those at the blunt end, less so.

This work reflects my recollection of those times: lying in bed as a child hearing or rather feeling the occasional crump of shotfiring beneath me in the seams and tunnels of Whitemore/Newcastle colliery below; hearing the clack-clack of coal waggons on the Leen Valley line at the bottom of the road pulling away from the stop signal; terrified as a four year old on the footplate of a vast steam locomotive, as the coal was shovelled into the flaming maw fired by my uncle Ted.

Here I am today maps spread before me. I have geological maps marking out the coal seams. Seams in the plural. Many of them. Occasionally the surface drops. Perhaps when a pit prop gives way 60 years since last under sight of human eye. There's a wall I know that has a U shaped dip on it where a Whitmoor tunnel ran.