Water of Life – “Sources and Springs / Abercrombie, 1949”

Posted by on November 21, 2013


Funded by Creative Scotland‘s Imagining Natural Scotland initiative, UK artists Rob St. John and Tommy Perman have taken it upon themselves to bring Edinburgh’s extensive water systems to sonic life by releasing a 7″ collaboration alongside a series of essays and prints. Working under the name Water of Life, Perman and St. John followed the Scottish capital’s serpentine supply from its stunning sources (see above) to its trickling end in homes and industry, combining field recordings with modern instrumentation to reflect the unavoidable clash of epochs-old natural flows and man-managed networks. Their creative journey is illustrated by an online sound map and the extensive collection of rough snippets posted on their Soundcloud page.

Water of Life is released on December 9 and can be pre-ordered here. The vinyl is limited to 300 copies and comes with a selection of water-related essays by St. John and a bundle of illustrative prints by Perman. As befits a project linked so inextricably to the environment, the whole package comes wrapped in a recycled card folder and uses soy ink in its images, but my personal favourite touch is in the project’s choice of typeface: Doves Type was the subject of a bitter ownership row between business partners Thomas Cobden-Sanderson and Emery Walker when their printing enterprise dissolved in the early part of the 20th Century. Determined not to let it slip into the wrong hands after his death, Cobden-Sanderson spent nine months secretly tipping boxes of the typeface and the equipment used to design it into the River Thames, thus consigning it to a watery grave from which it has only recently emerged in digital form.