project by Port mone trio
A man is connected to the network. His world is small. It is a wave-powered router stretching its wires from sources of electric energy to screens. Its home-to-work routs and airport-to-airport rush are looped. It is limited by the visited countries and accumulated knowledge. A man is absorbed by a small universe of his own live, while the outer space provides connections difficult to be detected and understood (or one has no time for this). These connections are subtle and rarely come out.
Whilst a continual embeddedness in his or her small world is a natural necessity and guarantee of survival, the ability to feel and understand the big world demands additional efforts. This ability gets lost among and becomes obstructed with the noise of consumption and its last minute deals; propaganda and its changing appeals; and mass culture and its simple mechanisms of oblivion.
The ability to embed into the big world, sensitivity to the interrelations between its parts and awareness of the consequences of such participation are similar to the ability to hear everyone's whisper, to talk and be present in such a way that no disaster happens.
This is not always possible. Sometimes a pursuit of the advantages of the big world makes a man forget about some "minor" risks such as technical imperfection or human factor. In 1986, an explosion occurred at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Cesium 137 covered 23% of the territory of Belarus. The consequences of contamination with strontium and plutonium isotopes will manifest for hundreds of years. In 1986, people were evacuated from the 30 km zone around the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Part of the country became the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Radiation covered about a quarter of the Belarusian forests. Now it is impossible to be engaged in agriculture on the territory of an average region of Belarus. In July 1990, the Supreme Council of Belarus declared the entire territory of the republic the zone of the ecological disaster.
Radioactive contamination of Belarus affected by Caesium-137 after Chernobyl disaster
The tragedy and trauma that happened in the Soviet Union in its final days migrated to the independent Belarus along with the consequences for the human health and the economy. Even according to official data of the State Department for Elimination of Consequences of the Chernobyl Disaster, the damage caused to the country by the radiation accident for over 30 years of the remedial actions is estimated at 235 billion USD. This amount of money is enough to build 21 nuclear power plants similar to the one being built in Belarus nowadays.
The first Belarusian nuclear power plant is being built in the north of Belarus, a region rich in forests and lakes, clean and untouched by the radiation, shortly after the radiation disaster in the south. It is built with no lucid economic justification, on credit and not taking into account the opinion of the people in Belarus, the ecological disaster zone, where jokes about radiation and mutation have already become folklore. Despite the lesson seems to have been studied, despite other type of the nuclear reactor in the new pant, despite modern safety system technologies and official pathos about the future energy independence of the country, the construction of a nuclear power plant in Belarus is perplexing. Couldn't that issue be handled more sensibly?
There is a sensuous aspect of the issue: visiting the exclusion zone or surroundings and seeing the abandoned houses and villages leveled to the ground is enough to feel it. The entire villages are asphalt-covered or abandoned and falling apart, imbued with silence and pierced with trees. The forest absorbed everything: antique manors, where the Belarusian nobility gathered, schools, where new Soviet people were brought up, modest houses. The nature in the exclusion zone got just new input data in the form of radiation and human absence, and now it is living a new busy life. Perhaps even more spacious than before. And humans disappeared leaving only a footprint in the falling apart blockhouses, in the carved ancones, in the time-darkened medallions of tombstone photos and in the trembling of the towels at the surviving cemeteries. People left their homes, lost their families, and became victims of an accidental and unsafe radiation experiment: about a quarter of the population of Belarus live on lands with a varying pollution level. And all this was forgotten so quickly. The memory of the tragedy turned into a bewildered whisper inaudible amidst everything happening around.
The doubts about the need for a peaceful atom have reasonable grounds. This includes not only a questionable economic expediency or distrust in the safety culture, technologies and contractors from the post-Soviet countries that has developed over the past decades. For example, there is an opinion that the Belarusian nuclear power plant built on credit is unlikely to lead the country to energy independence, because Belarus will be forced not only to pay the loan, but also to buy fuel from neighboring countries. But instead of gas, Belarus will import uranium fuel assembly from Russia.
Nowadays, the big world is changing and trying to get away from traditional power production. This is determined by the pursuit of environmental safety, on the one hand, and of real energy independence, on the other hand, because in countries that are lucky to have fuel economy there are also political upheavals, armed conflicts and wars, and few are eager to depend on it. The alternative energy is the way out for economies that do not have their own natural resources. At the same time, the technologies used are constantly improving and becoming cheaper, and renewable sources become competitive to the traditional ways of energy production.
Belarus plans to launch the first nuclear power plant reactor in 2019, and the share of renewable energy sources will increase only to 9% by 2035.
Large energy corporations invest in solar power plants and wind farms. The global business (for example, Google) makes a point to use 100% of renewable energy. At the UN Climate Change Conference, 48 countries announced the transition to 100% green energy by 2050. Perhaps, Belarus, with its everlasting resource dependence and the multi-complex trauma of Chernobyl, should turn to alternative energy concepts. In 2019, Belarus plans to launch the first nuclear power plant reactor, and the share of renewable energy sources, according to the Energy Safety Concept, will increase only to 9% by 2035 (from 5% as of today).
The desire to hear and the ability to negotiate could provide a new track. For example, the "Energy [r]Evolution" scenario shows the way Belarus can turn to the situation when more than 90% of the electricity in the country will be produced by the renewable sources of energy by 2050. Moreover, it can be done with less financial cost. The document is based on the multianalysis of the situation and offers a completely different future. In this case it becomes possible to abandon the nuclear energy. The document details all the stages and subtleties of the scenario, which involves not only technical but also behavioral changes. It involves the transformation not only of the energy or transport infrastructure, but also of the way of life, way of thinking to a responsible and careful ecological attitude to the world and its exhaustible resources ranging from the use of more environmentally friendly transport and the design of sustainable cities to the expansion of private production of green energy. Unfortunately, the proposed scenario is unlikely to be implemented. Both the development of alternative energy sources and the construction of nuclear power plants are political decisions, and the official Belarus has already made its choice, which is proved by the cooling towers rising above the pastoral Astravyets district.
In the Whisper project and in our third album, we continue to use music to talk about issues that seem important to us. The recording here (as well as in the previous album by Port Mone trio recorded in the forest) turns into an independent statement: the material of a new album was recorded with the electricity from local renewable sources. It was live field recording in a mobile studio connected directly to the power plants during two sessions (the first one in the solar park, and the second at the wind farm).
We drove across Belarus about three thousand kilometers in search of a suitable location for recording. We found solar parks in Bragin district area in the east (which had once been the exclusion zone), on the abandoned military airfield near Shchuchyn in the west of Belarus. Windmills with the characteristic sounding were found on the hills all over the country. The potential locations for recording near windmills were shielded from wind (it sounds like nonsense, but can be explained: we needed wind only as a source of energy, but not noise). As a result, the search of a place for an audio experiment turned into a full-fledged expedition on renewable energy sources and beauty of Belarus.
It turned out that the first windmill in Belarus, designed by the Soviet engineers, is situated near Minsk, not far from Volma. It became a nice form of the local landscape. It was unsuccessful experiment, because it took more energy to run this windmill than it was able to produce. Now the giant on the hill is useless and resembles a retro-futuristic installation with fussing earthly tractors. Several windmills work very close to the ruins of the ancient Kreva Сastle and quite fit the landscape of a medieval town. The largest state wind farm in Belarus is located near Navahrudak, the former capital of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania. One of the windmills near this small quiet city in the center of Belarus is the productivity record-holder in Europe.

In the north, not far from the Lithuanian border, we met the inventor Mateusz Sinkevičius, who made up his own windmill. The engineer built a post-apocalyptic device with ladders made from automobile doors in pursuit to demonstrate the potential of green energy and the human spirit to the conservative neighbors of the village. The produced energy is enough to provide electricity for his own household. It is not about a miracle, but about the fact that desire and zeal can make many things possible such as the solar park on the territory of the former landfill in Rudashany, heat supply for a house generated by the solar cells on its roof or the energy produced by the windmills to run one's own business. During a weeklong expedition, we found scattered, rare, private, but quite successful attempts to make some types of alternative energy customary in Belarus – the land not so rich in the sun and the wind.
Timid manifestations of the future in the middle of the past became not only an unusual entourage, but also a source of electricity for our rolling studio.
As a result, we chose two locations for the recording of the album: the solar park in Rudashany, where the Lithuanian investor installed 5 megawatts of solar batteries in the lowlands instead of a former landfill, and the wind farm near the village of Pudaunya, Mogilev region, where nine elderly wind farms are squeaking on the hill. The important factors included not only the way the place is protected from the wind and how it sounds itself, but also its special symbolism. Therefore, quiet solar panels on the reviving lands of the former landfill in the middle of the resort region, and businesslike noisy windmills on the edge of a sleepy half-abandoned village in the east of Belarus seemed the most successful places for the embodiment of the concept. Timid manifestations of the future in the middle of the past became not only an unusual entourage, but also a source of electricity for our rolling studio.

The second album Thou by Port Mone was recorded in October 2013 in the forest, so we already had an experience with music recorded afield.

In order to make a recording by the renewable sources, we took out half a studio from the city, and to get live acoustics of the place in the music (wind, birds, rustling trees and other sounds) we placed dozens of microphones, which recorded not only the instruments, but also the responsive environment. We planned to make the recording in the warmest time of the capricious Belarusian summer, at the end of June. It was important to provide protection for the equipment from wind or rain, and not to get burnt in the sun and insects-bitten during the session. For the sake of accuracy of the experiment, we decided not to take with us such a safety net as diesel generators or batteries. The outside world should get just one connector cord from us.
The outside world responded. The owners of the power generators provided free electricity for our recordings. The employee of the solar park helped to choose a calm place and watched the process with interest. The electricians allowed to choose the windmill to connect to and arranged a socket connector in a couple of minutes. To be honest, at first one of them looked at us as if we were aliens, but after realizing that we arrived with good intentions, he showed his photos of the sunset from the top platform of the gondola, apologizing for the fact that we were not allowed to enter it. It turned out that getting electricity for recording sounds directly from the sun and the wind is really possible.
We spent the first two recording days amidst the solar cells reflecting the sky in the former landfill. Through the sand we could see bitumen that the earth got in the recent past. Apart from that, the location of the solar park sometimes looked like a chip of a mirror, sometimes like the sea depending on the lighting, and quietly sounded like cautious birds. In the first couple of days, we got into quick assembling and disassembling the rolling studio (with its kilometers of wires), recorded a loadful of takes and realized that it was better to finish before the mosquitoes wake up. Although it was especially pleasant at the sunset to score with our music the pastoral landscapes of Narach region, a small village nearby, and a farm with calves located near the solar park.
Two more days we spent in the place located 300 km to the east, where we got the wind energy. The unperturbed electrician (as if got used to provide the electricity to musicians) in rubber flip-flops assembled a socket connector on the spot just at the windmill and disappeared inside the belly of the next generator under repair. The cable 150 m in length connected the field studio to the windmill, and again we dissolved in the process of playing the music and recording alongside with birds, grass, noise of blades, artistic squeaking and tapping of mechanisms. We covered the studio when it was raining, adjusted to the speed of rotation of the blades, recorded the music over and over again because of the powerful blasts of wind that failed the sounding. Of course, we got burnt. Of course, we got tired of the wind. But everything that happened to and around us turned into colors and semitones in the music, into shades and intonations of Whisper.
The Earth calmly experiences the deafness and blindness of humanity, patiently inherits and stores human errors, grinds wars and catastrophes. Unlike a human being, it cannot be afraid of anything, love or hate anybody. It has nothing to excuse for and no need to speak out loud.

The music recording from local renewable energy sources against the background of a nuclear power plant under construction in Belarus is a kind of a gesture that points out the very possibility of an alternative to the rut that is not always indicative of a reasonable way of life. The whole project is an attempt to show that both the nature and culture constitute that big world where it is worth to be sensitive to relations, careful and quiet to avoid catastrophes. It is an appeal to a human with a quiet – like whisper – request to be attentive to what is happening inside and outside, to be attentive not only to a small understandable inner world but also to the big world where irresponsibility of a man becomes a common problem as often as not. The main ecological issue is ignorance and indifference.

Thanks to Green Network Belarus,
Climate Action Network,
everyone who supported us in the crowdfounding,
everyone who shared the energy
and everyone who helped us to record the album.
Idea, arrangement and performed by:
Alexey Vorsoba - accordion
Aleksey Vanchuk - bass
Siarhei Krauchanka - percussion

Alexey Vorsoba

Oleg Domanchuk - recording
Andrey Zhukov - mixing, mastering

Aleksandra Kononchenko
Siarhei Krauchanka

Aleksandra Kononchenko
Vadim Ilkov

Siarhei Krauchanka

English version:
Tatiana Zhelezniakova


Aleksey Vanchuk

Yasia Karalevich-Kartel
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