In a move that makes us wonder whether he wants us to rock out or take a nap, former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker has partnered up with Britain’s National Trust, an organization that protects and perseveres historic sites in the U.K., to release an album that isn’t so much music as “a collection of recordings and general noise” recorded at the scenic landmarks. According to Cocker, “It’s not really meant to be listened to intently, like a piece of music, but more as something to have on in the background to aid relaxation or contemplation . . . I hope it has the feel of one continuous journey and conjures up an image in the mind’s eye of the places featured.”
National Trust: The Album, which you can download for free here, features 13 tracks that include the noise from creaking stairs, ticking clocks, wind, and the sounds of gardeners working. It’s a response to research showing that 83% of people “say that interrupting sounds make it difficult for them to concentrate” and 88% of people believe listening to bird noises helps them concentrate. After the jump, let us know how the album affects your concentration (that is, if it doesn’t totally put you to sleep) and learn about five other strange records recorded in stranger places.
1. Joy Division’s drummer on the roof
While recording Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division’s producer Martin “Zero” Hannett moved drummer Stephen Morris and his drum kit to the roof at Cargo Recording Studios. Legend also has it the Hannett, obsessed with getting the right percussion sound, once had Morris take apart his drum kit and reassemble it using parts from an unlikely source — the toilet.
2. Radiohead’s medieval mansion
Radiohead recorded OK Computer in St. Catherine’s Court, a 14th-century mansion in the English country side, where the band was forced to share the space… with ghosts. Yorke was convinced the house was haunted, as weird things began to occur during the recording process. Tapes would rewind by themselves and machines would suddenly turn on and off. We wouldn’t be surprised if some of that supernatural energy made it onto the classic album.
3. Rush’s wilderness adventure
Canadian stadium rockers Rush have gotten in touch with nature more than once. While recording 1980’s Permanent Waves, producer Terry Brown splashed oars on private lake to produce the tidal-pool sound effects that can be heard on “Nature Science.” And on the next year’s follow-up, Moving Pictures, the band recorded the track “Witch Hunt” outside in the sub-zero temperatures of the Great White North.
4. Alan Funk’s XXX recording session
There are albums recorded in unlikely, far-flung places… and then there are albums made so close to home it’s uncomfortable. Electronic artist Alan Funk recorded Nymphomatriach using synthesizers and the sweet sweet sounds of him and his girlfriend Rachael Kozak making love. Then Kozak’s lady part’s served as an impromptu recording studio using internal microphones. Gross.
5. The Grifters’ flower power
Talk about thrifty. Lo-fi ’90s rockers The Grifters recorded the fuzzed out So Happy Together in the back of a Memphis flower shop where band members David Shouse and Stan Gallimore worked.