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Aral Sea Stories, 2019


Peter Cusack made three trips to the Aral Sea in Kazakhstan and one to the Naryn River in Kyrgyzstan to make field recordings, take photographs, talk to people and try and gain insights into the impacts of water use and abuse on the environment and people of the region. The audio tracks, photographs and notes on this album are the result of these visits. 


In 1960 the Aral Sea in Central Asia was the planet’s fourth-largest lake. Today it has almost disappeared; a victim of massive, water-hungry, irrigation schemes, created during Soviet times, that continue to divert much of the flow from its tributary rivers far upstream. It is one of the most significant environmental catastrophes of the 20th century, but one of the least known. However, since independence, Kazakhstan, with the support of the UN and the World Bank, has been attempting to restore the North Aral, about 10% of the original, within its territory. It is a story of hope and success, albeit partial. Rising water levels and the rebirth of the fishing industry are bringing obvious improvements to the local ecology and economy, and show that even major environmental damage can be reversed with sufficient commitment and resources. It is a much needed positive example in today’s climate crisis debate and in re-thinking our whole relationship with the environment.


Cusack unfolds a sonic universe of unique and diverse field recordings, such as the amazing sound of camels, the screaming of a lost young goat, an ancient Soviet Ural motorbike in full throttle and an almost cinematographic soundscape of rain and thunder. Bubbles, drips and the internal groans of an old iron waterwheel, recorded with a hydrophone (underwater microphone), the tinkling, clicking of Ice Bells, made by ice-covered small branches and twigs knocking into each other in strong winds. And a passionate song about flowing water by traditional musician Tinarbek Kerimbekov who sings and accompanies himself on the ‘komuz’ – Kyrgyzstan’s national instrument.


VINYL LP + digital download + cover size double inlay
41:34 min
Limited to 200 copies
Recorded & mixed by Peter Cusack

Mastered by Kassian Troyer at D&M, Germany

Cover artwork by Wendelin Büchle


£22.50 (with free UK P&P)

Peter Cusack | Aral Sea Stories

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