Long Live the New Sound

An anti-podcast podcast. Find out more and submit your own work at longlivethenewsound.com

The Smell of Naphtha

This piece is about the power of a smell to take me suddenly to a different time, to my childhood: the smell of naphtha inside an abandoned mine. It all starts with me and my namesake friend, also Cristina Marras, deciding to take a four-day- hike along the Mining trail of St Barbara, a 500 Ks itinerary across the Sulcis mining area of Sardinia, gruelling isolated goat trails swept by the ubiquitous mistral wind, but also breath-taking glimpses of views and beaches with water so crystalline that they make you think of stained-glass windows in churches. Before being able to start our hike, we must receive the Pilgrims’ credentials that will grant us welcome and hospitality in the various destinations along the journey. Being this a trail dedicated to a saint, it is only logical that it should start from a church, the Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Good Path, where a cloistered nun stamps our pilgrims' credentials. We then venture into mining land, surrounded by chunks of mountains and mounds of stone debris piled up, leftovers of a great future that never was and my father had been part of that sad future. Along the hike, we stop to visit the abandoned mine of Monteponi and its renovated Pozzo Sella, now a museum and information centre. As soon as I step in, I am overwhelmed by the smell of naphtha that reminds me of late nights when my Dad came back home from work with his overall smelling of naphtha, and I remember how he used to tell me stories and what an amazing childhood I had, and I think of the photos that show him at work, climbing on a dangerously high scaffolding or posing with his coworkers, kneeling on the ground, at the front of a dozen or so of other workers, dusty, so much dust that I can smell it across the half a century that divides me from the time when the photo was taken. The four-day-hike becomes a journey of the memory, rendered in this podcast with attention to a detailed soundscape, mixed with field sound recorded by me during the hike, starting with the singing voices of the cloistered nuns.

Cristina Marras

More from the artist at https://twitter.com/cristinamarras - https://soundcloud.com/kommunic8