Brussels was built on a swamp, and its name is the Frankish ver­si­on of Broekzele”, which means sett­le­ment in the swamp, and was the name of one of first sett­le­ments on an island in the Zenne river, whe­re the city has its ori­gins. Today only one tiny part of Brussels is still offi­ci­al­ly a swamp. It’s the swamp of Ganshoren, a muni­ci­pa­li­ty in the west of Brussels. The tiny swamp is ensna­red bet­ween two rail­road tracks. Just behind the tracks the city com­men­ces, with high-rise soci­al hou­sing, an indu­stri­al area, and just a bit fur­ther, the ring road high­way that sur­rounds Brussels. The area is a mix of damp prai­ries and pat­ches of bus­hes and trees, and is home to a lot of small wild­li­fe such as bir­ds, rodents, bats, amp­hi­bians and even rin­ged sna­kes. It’s a small green oasis, in the midd­le of a con­cre­te lands­ca­pe. The city com­ple­te­ly engulfs it and acous­ti­cally per­me­a­tes it, dra­ping a con­ti­nuous per­me­a­ting bas­sy dro­ne over the landscape.

Murmur is a col­la­bo­ra­ti­on bet­ween film­ma­ker Jan Locus and sound artist Stijn Demeulenaere. On two occa­si­ons they went to the swamp in the late hours of the night, just befo­re first light, to record the dawn cho­rus. A dawn cho­rus is the awa­ke­ning of the world, or the bio­to­pe. Just befo­re dawn, the ani­mals wake up, almost one spe­cies at the time, and start making their pre­sen­ce known, cre­a­ting a lush symp­ho­ny-like sounds­ca­pe that lasts till the sun is well up in the sky. At the same time one hears the city awa­ke­ning in the dis­tan­ce, the con­ti­nuous bass dro­ne gets lou­der, the traf­fic picks up, the over­to­nes of peo­p­le waking up and get­ting to work start to dis­turb the night’s calm.

The city dro­ne per­me­a­tes the sound of the swamp, and a stran­ge mix enfolds bet­ween the sound of an awa­ke­ning natu­re and a very human pre­sen­ce. It gives the pla­ce a very other­world­ly atmos­p­he­re during the twi­light hours of the morning.

MURMUR is a film by Jan Locus and Stijn Demeulenaere

Camera and EditSound RecordingSound design & CompostitionMixing and Mastering5.1 mixSound AssistanceCamera AssistanceAssistant edi­tor and Title designJan LocusStijn DemeulenaereStijn DemeulenaereYves De MeyYves De MeyFan Yau WingJannes De KortDesirée De Winter

A spe­ci­al thanks goes to Ioana Mandrescu, Eli Sundermann, Desirée De Winter, Yves De Mey, Fan Yau Wing, and Jannes De Kort.