These recordings were made at the edge of Washington state’s Olympic Rainforest, where the Hoh River meets the Pacific Ocean. The point of entry to this landscape, named Oil City on the map, is no more than a place where the road widens before coming to an end at a trailhead. Just north of the road, through the trees, and on the homestead of the late Captain Hank who one day disappeared at sea, is the ghost of an oil rig and some comings and goings along a plank road. Early 20th century settlers had been ambitious to start an oil industry here but it never took off. Chalá-at–or Hoh–legend describes a race of upside down people who once lived on this shore and went about their domestic lives rather inefficiently until a transformer-god, K’wati, set them upright. Can it be inferred, then, that the Chalá-at also listened at ground level?
Massive cedar, Sitka spruce, and Douglas fir logs pile up here on a dense litter of granitic pebbles and driftwood, all worn smooth by the sea. The surf resonates in countless hollows across this implied architecture. Elevated walkways bridge the sea wrack and lead to secluded rooms with makeshift furniture and fire rings on floors of stone and sand. A dense rainforest rises steeply behind this beach. Human passage between Oil City and the mouth of the river, and at the jut of rock on the way to Jefferson Cove, is strictly regulated by a fearsome tide. The animals of this seashore, though rarely seen, have upon each and every surface left a shadow scattered.
(Loren Chasse, January 2014)
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