Listen closely to the silence around you right now and you may be able to pick up some remarkable things floating through the atmosphere. Pat Collins's 2012 film Silence told the story of a sound recordist called Eoghan who returns to Ireland after 15 years away in Berlin to record landscapes free from and unpolluted by man-made sound.
As the film rolls on, the odyssey finds Eoghan setting foot in increasingly remote terrain, away from streets and settlements.
He’s in search of what he believes or takes to be silence and the lure of such a meditative hush turns out to be extraordinarily irresistible. The sound recordist also meets various randomers and characters along the way who talk about their notions of silence. As you’d expect, it turns out that one man’s silence sometimes turns out to be another man’s sound.
Collins’s collaboration with sound designer Tadhg O’Sullivan is a masterful piece of work. This collection of sound art pieces, musical interludes and spoken word pieces creates a new version of the film in your mind’s eye which makes you rethink anew what happened on the screen. Naturally, you also begin to hear things in a whole new light.
What’s striking is the compositional detail of the work and especially the seamless stitching which brings all these diverse elements together to tell the story anew. If the film set out to unveil the sparse, rugged beauty of a supposedly quiet hinterland, the album fills in those spaces with both whispers and shouts.
Be it the effective musical shapeshifting of Sean Mac Erlaine, Akira Rabelais and Karl Burke or the voices of Eoghan Mac Giolla Bhríde, Tim Robinson, Hilary O'Shaughnessy, Michael Harding and others, Silence/ Sound shows that you can sometimes tell a powerful tale by leaning on non-conventional narrative structures.