Pop star's sonic boom rocks the neighbours- Library of Mu
- Library of Mu record:
- Title: Pop star's sonic boom rocks the neighbours
- Date: 25 June, 1996
- Journal: Daily Telegraph
- Author: Paul Stokes
- Type of resource: Features
- Status: original
- No. views: 1122
- Description: an account of the sonic gun affair full of innaccuracies, but including a long quote from Cauty about why he built and tested a sonic weapon.
Pop star's sonic boom rocks the neighbours
By Paul Stokes (25 June, 1996, Daily Telegraph)
A POP STAR'S experiments with his 25,000-watt home-made sonic gun
have brought an answering blast from dozens of people living up to two
miles from his country estate.
Ray Tucker, 59, and his wife Pat, 52, who keep a herd of cattle and
170 sheep on their farm near Totnes in Devon, say that the noise drove
the cows wild and led to the loss of a calf a few days from birth. Mrs
Tucker said: "When the noise started it was a low howl like an
aircraft about to crash. Then it stopped and, when it started again,
it sounded more like a very loud didgeridoo."
The Tuckers are now planning to ask for compensation for the calf,
which they say would have been worth £900, and extra vets' bills. Jim
Cauty is the man behind the acoustic gun. He made a fortune as a
member of the group KLF with a string of House Music hits in the early
1990s, including Doctoring the House and Justified and Ancient.
Critics - not just Mrs Tucker - have compared percussive, repetitive
"House" to a giant didgeridoo or the sound of a plane heading for
certain disaster. Mr Cauty tested his gun to the full for four hours
last Friday during a party for 10 friends at his home, Knowle House,
near Broadhempston, Totnes. The tests were accompanied by the firing
of red flares and came at the end of a fireworks display. Silence
eventually fell when police called at 1am.
Mr Cauty, whose arts establishment, the K Foundation, claimed to have
burnt £1 million as a protest against the "pretensions" of the Turner
art prize, explained his fascination with sonic guns yesterday. It
began after he bought two Saracen armoured vehicles at a scrapyard for
£4,000 and found equipment in them that he thought could have been
used in sonic warfare. He then began assembling his acoustic gun from
information he found on the Internet.
Installing huge amplifiers and special speakers to cope with the very
low frequencies has cost him tens of thousands of pounds. Initial
tests were carried out at the Royal Festival Hall and he is now
looking at new ways to experiment with the contraption without
upsetting his neighbours. Mr Cauty said: "I am very sorry about any
damage or inconvenience we have caused, but the Ministry of Defence
should not be worried because it is all stuff we have rebuilt
ourselves. "We are trying to find out how far a very low frequency
will travel. We know it goes a long way and we were seeing if we could
reach the radio mast at Halwell.
It seems there has been quite of lot of research in America into
acoustic weapons and seven Hertz is the level at which they will
affect humans. "My equipment could not go that low, because it would
rip apart the speakers. I do not know what the Government know about
all this. I have seen a reference to a device called a curdler used by
the Army for riot control in Northern Ireland. "The French once built
a device which I have seen a picture of and is so big that it had to
be mounted on a train with the speakers encased in concrete. I moved
to Devon six months ago for a bit of a rest and this is a project I am
taking an interest in. I do not see it as music or art."
He said that he aimed the gun away from homes. It seemed to have no
effect on sheep and he did not realise that it would disturb
cattle. He was put in the picture when Mr and Mrs Tucker arrived on
his doorstep. Mrs Tucker said: "We went round to see Mr Cauty and took
the dead calf with us in the back of our Land Rover. He said it had
been a tremendous bash, but then we showed him the calf and told him
that is what he had done. "We had six heifers in calf which started
stampeding around their field looking for somewhere to get out. If the
bull had broken out it would have been disastrous, because someone
might have been hurt and the animal would have had to be shot. "It was
too dangerous for my husband to stay in the field. He stood by the
gate and tried to calm them down. The next day two of the heifers went
into labour and we lost one of the calves."
The Defence Ministry said it had no knowledge of testing sound weapons
and the Army Historical Branch had no information. John Bullen, of the
Imperial War Museum, said: "There was a lot of interest in sound
between the wars but mainly as a means of detection. The Germans
experimented with it during the last war. The intention was to cause
distress to people."
This version of the text came from the Telegraph website - it is possible the story underwent further sub-editing before appearing in the paper?
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