Sibley Volcanic Preserve

I’ve been searching for some quiet experiences around the San Francisco Bay Area.  What is it that makes a quiet place? Is it merely a lack of noise, or what are the qualities which create quiet space? My hunch is that a quiet place might even be a loud place, but to understand why that could work, I needed to start with the volume turned down. The early morning is the right time to begin.


I drove up to Sibley Volcanic Preserve at 5:30am. On the road up the hill, my car cut above the blanket of fog draped over the Bay. I stepped out, and it was warmer than I was expecting. And so quiet. A slice of moon with its unlit body was suspended three hands above the horizon. The distant rush of the 24 gurgled down below.


A path invited, little critters scattering as I stepped closer. I held a shotgun microphone, headphones cocked over one ear. Every breath in was a banquet of sage and flowering weeds, dusted with the acrid scent of eucalyptus and damp leaves. I walked along the path scouring for sounds of birds and insects, little creatures scurrying in the bushes. I dropped down into the ancient caldera where a labyrinth signaled a place to take pause.


The air was 10 degrees cooler in the bowl. I walked, turned and took in the views, confusing the rabbits who remain crouched in the bushes. I aimed my benign shotgun but to the beasts it might as well have been a rod of lightning. They remained hidden and unknown.


Back to the parking lot, the city pulling its starter rope, I stood alone, a traveler by the road.

Now at my workshop, where construction continues on the Vessel, I am distilling some of the “quietness” found in the early morning into a space which can be entered at any time of day. Quiet is a broad dynamic range. Quiet demands coherence but not necessarily continuity or predictability.

The following audio track mixes some of my field recordings up at Sibley with a meditative synthetic audio loop. This is an intro for a broader soundscape to be experienced inside the Vessel. More to follow soon.