A multi-disciplinary designer’s journey in field recording, sound design, and music.

Wheezing Water Pump

Posted: May 4th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: field recording, found sound objects, sound design

"Ol' Wheezy" the Water Spigot, as we called him, at our campground in the desert.

[One in a series of posts from my spring 2011 trip to the southern California desert.]

Joshua Tree National Park is in the Mojave Desert. It’s dry. Only two campgrounds in the entire park have running water of any kind. Bad weather on the coast of California caused us to decide to stay in the desert at the tail end of a week’s vacation, so we were lucky to just show up at Joshua Tree and grab a spot at one of these prime campgrounds.

I camp a lot, all over the place, but I had never seen a water spigot quite like the one near our site. It was like the wet dream of a post-apocalytpic film production designer: Big, industrial, heavy, and red. If a common water pump could be bad ass, this one could.

Anyway, the draw-up of water sounded really neat, so I whipped out the ol’ handheld recorder and took some samples on our last morning there. It reminded me a bit of the sound of EVE coming out of her landing ship’s tube from the film WALL•E.

In developed campgrounds, you need to be up really early to avoid noise from fellow campers. No wonder I like backpacking so much…


[Sony PCM-D50 recorder, capsules at 120°]

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4 Comments on “Wheezing Water Pump”

  1. 1 Ryan said at 4:20 pm on May 6th, 2011:

    WOW! That sounds incredible. I can think of 10 things off the top of my head that would be useful for. Great find and thanks for sharing!!!

    Unfortunately, I have a bad experience related to one of these pumps. I got really sick when I was 6 years old at a campsite near Lake Tahoe when I merely brushed my teeth from one of these.

  2. 2 Adrian Millington said at 2:43 am on May 8th, 2011:

    Very interesting sound :)

  3. 3 Jean-Edouard Miclot said at 1:46 pm on May 9th, 2011:

    This is great find Nathan! Really clean and rich as usual.

  4. 4 Nathan said at 3:37 pm on May 12th, 2011:

    Thanks, Adrian and Jean-Edouard!


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