Wind blows. Water flows.
Welcome to the Netherlands. We are in Cabauw in the province of Utrecht, which lies two meters below sea level. To keep the land dry, water is carried away via an impressive number of small canals and pumped to increasing heights, ultimately reaching sea level. The history of the Polders — the land below sea level — starts around the tenth century when farmers started draining swamps using small irrigation channels. When the ground started sinking drastically — a couple of meters in a few centuries — wind mills were needed to drain the water more effectively. These mills were used as giant pumps, harvesting the force of the wind to drive water wheels. Around 1450, the first mills appeared. A couple of centuries later, thousands of them were active in that area.
This soundscape was recorded at the Cabouwse Molen, which was built in 1454. The windmill burned down in 1772, but it was rebuilt in just a couple of months since you can't afford to have a broken pump when you live below the sea level. Today, the windmill is still made of the same wood that was used when it was rebuilt. The cracking sounds you hear in the soundscape are rich with hundreds of years of history!
Special thanks to Joost Schalken-Pinkster, a Dutch fan of this site who organized the sampling session, and Erik Stoop, the friendly miller who enthusiastically took part in the project and gave us access to the mill. Pictures taken during the sampling session are available in our Sampling Sessions Photo Album.