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Life of a Potato

by Matilde Meireles

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1.
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or 38 metres 15:02

about

The potato has travelled a long way from its native lands in South America. The starchy tuber, brought to Europe by the Spanish in the late 1600s, slowly settled to become a key ingredient in most European countries’ traditional diet. As with many other vegetables, plants, and spices from elsewhere, we forgot the origins of the potato. We made them our own because food is an inherent expression of social identity. It tells stories, and evokes nostalgia, belonging, and wellbeing. Yet, the food system of the current times is desperately unsustainable. Like the potato, many other fruits, vegetables, plants, and animals travel far and wide daily, blurring territories, and playing an accidental part in the immeasurable impact of the politics of food production. The potato is an incredibly resilient element whose history traverses time and location, and its historical traces have very different socio-political nuances in the places I call home: Portugal, Ireland, and now England. It also grows seasonally in our garden and is a tasty tuber part of a rich sonic ecosystem. This seemed like a good starting point for a new project.

Life of a Potato uses a series of field recordings to unveil varied sonic perspectives of a garden near Pewsey in the Southwest of England. Here potatoes grow seasonally alongside other vegetables, plants, bushes, and flowers. The field recordings include vibrations of the soil underground, potato stems as well as the stems of other vegetables, reeds, vibrations picked up through the rake, the garden in the sun and rain. The recordings were made between April and August 2021 as the tubers grew into potatoes and then were shared at the table. Side A explores the various sounds around the garden and sounds of the repetitive, yet enjoyable, task of roasting the potatoes: cutting them in small pieces, massaging them with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and paprika. Side B is slightly more abstract. It explores various sounds of energy used to cook the potatoes, the potatoes’ crackling sounds as they come out of the oven and sounds of the garden in an early evening, in October, when the potato season is finished.

Thanks to Miguel Carvalhais, Chrysoula Drakaki, Conor McCafferty, Amy Blount, Pedro Rebelo, and Christabel Stirling.

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released January 25, 2022

Cover photo by Chrysoula Drakaki.
Mastered at Crónica.

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Crónica Oporto, Portugal

Crónica is a label based in Porto, Portugal.

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