This morning in the studio I’m blasting this wonderful field recording of surf and fog horns in San Francisco in 1987. (One of my favorite memories is sleeping in the Presidio and listening to the bridge horn blow all night, like some giant monster snoring out in the bay.)
As I was listening to the horns blow over and over, I realized they could be a track of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works, Volume II. I got my keyboard out and learned the notes of each horn:
The recording notes that there are four distinctive horns, but I only hear three notes: a low Bb, a higher Db, and an E in the middle, which raises up a half step at the end to an F.
Tonight I think I’ll lie in bed and read Ray Bradbury’s short story, “The Fog Horn,” in which one of the characters makes up this story:
“One day many years ago a man walked along and stood in the sound of the ocean on a cold sunless shore and said, “We need a voice to call across the water, to warn ships; I’ll make one. I’ll make a voice like all of time and all of the fog that ever was; I’ll make a voice that is like an empty bed beside you all night long, and like an empty house when you open the door, and like trees in autumn with no leaves. A sound like the birds flying south, crying, and a sound like November wind and the sea on the hard, cold shore. I’ll make a sound that’s so alone that no one can miss it, that whoever hears it will weep in their souls, and hearths will seem warmer, and being inside will seem better to all who hear it in the distant towns. I’ll make me a sound and an apparatus and they’ll call it a Fog Horn and whoever hears it will know the sadness of eternity and the briefness of life.”