Episode 38: Gavin Prior

Gavin Prior
Babbleon Cork


Babbleon Cork, the result of Gavin Prior’s residency at the Guesthouse in May 2010, is an audio collage in three parts composed solely of sounds recorded during his time in Cork, Ireland. With his portable recorder, he moved through the city guided by suggestions from Corkonians, his own ears, and serendipity. He had certain recording locations in mind, but many of the sounds were stumbled upon, which lured him away from his intended destination. 

In Cork, his task was to listen keenly and to seek out interesting places and people to record as source material. Working within a strict set of limitations, he used only the material he found in the city to produce the collage, making conventionally ‘musical’ passages solely from found sound. He avoided effects (apart from some EQ scrubbing up) because he wanted to keep it visceral and life-like. He felt driven to create a contemporary, urban soundtrack.

He frequented areas he wouldn’t normally have spent time in when visiting Cork, so in order to draw out the stories of the people he engaged with, he changed his appearance to blend in. This resulted in the piece featuring teenagers spouting racism in a city centre chipper, perspectives on the economy from a homeless man, and carousing economics students. Cork sounds much like any other Irish city, but the undulous Cork accent is truly unique, and Babbleon Cork provides a documentary space for these city-dwellers to share their stories and opinions. The emotional content of the direct speech is soundtracked and enhanced by the abstract, “instrumental” elements in the collage. The result is a short album which captures the energy of the city mixing layers of abstracted sounds and the fluent, irreverent utterances of the Corkonians themselves. 


Gavin Prior is best known as a member of United Bible Studies. He currently plays in the noise duo Toymonger and Free Jazz/Metal trio Tarracóir and is working on the debut album of his newest band Sabre Series. Since graduating from University of London with an MA in Music Technology, he has been based in Dublin and has improvised with musicians from Ireland and around the world including David Lacey, Seán Meehan, Thollem McDonas, Rhodri Davies, Okkyung Lee and Damo Suzuki. He plays straight acoustic guitar and electric guitar with preparations and extended technique. He circuit bends and modifies cheap instruments which can be heard in his recordings with Toymonger and various improvisational meetings. He has performed throughout Europe, America and Asia and co-founded the Deserted Village label.


Download a set of photo collages of the recording locations from Babbleon Cork here.