three digital soundscapes are each, in their different
ways, portraits of London. They were inspired by my
love of the city; not the London of tourist brochures,
but a London composed of people - working, talking,
laughing or crying, and getting on with their day-to-day
lives. The Russian director, Sergei Eisenstein spoke
of `emotional representation' with regard to film: through
montage (the juxtaposition of related but disparate
images), the familiar is made more poignant, more intense
and our sensibilities may be expanded as a result. Inhabiting
a world midway between abstract music and radiophonic
documentary these pieces are, to some extent, my personal
attempt to create a sonic equivalent to montage film.
These aren't random sound collages: it is what the sounds
are about - where they are from, who made them and what
they represent - that's of importance. Recognizable
sounds are juxtaposed, hidden, decontextualized or coloured
by digital processing techniques and editing, but they
remain familiar and continue to tell a tale. Rather
than provide a programmatic narrative I've tried to
offer something less directive, and more open to individual
interpretation. In a sense, these soundscapes invite
the listener to use them as background music to their
own memories of similar experiences.
holds a wealth of memories concerning her life in London
during the Second World War. In these stories from her
childhood the horror of war is disguised, or perhaps
made even more painful, coloured by a child's excitement
and lack of understanding. And, of course, she tells
them now from an adult's perspective, looking back at
the person she once was. Her memories were familiar
bedtime stories for me, so much so that I feel they
are part of my experience too. During the Gulf war they
began to haunt me; perhaps I realised, for the first
time, how it must have been. With my mum's enthusiastic
participation, I used her words, emotions and personality
as the basis for this piece. Many of the recordings
were made `on location', as my parents and I revisited
the places where she grew up.
Her Own Time is as much about my feelings for my mother
as about the events she describes. More generally, it's
also concerned with memories, places or people as they
are now and were then, the temporal nature of sound
itself, and the important legacy that stories provide.
as in all large cities, even a short walk can involve
abrupt transitions from one sonic, and social, environment
to another. The source sounds for this piece are diverse,
and all were recorded in and around Walthamstow, London
E17, which I considered to be my home `patch' at the
time. Although there is quite a bit of sound-processing,
it is intentionally surreptitious. I used it to `light'
a series of linked sonic films, letting the so-called
ordinary shine through. The music travels through various
environments, dwelling for several minutes in each.
They include sounds from my back garden, underground
`tube' trains, my local eel pie and mash caf , a noisy
outdoor market, roadworks, rain. London E17 is dedicated
to Paul Lansky, with thanks and affection.
used in this piece were recorded in foot tunnels underneath
the Thames. These tunnels are reached by descending
in large Victorian lifts, complete with mahogany panelling
and raucous sliding metal doors. The tunnels are extraordinary,
and the experience of interacting with them more so.
As the doors open, the crowd emerges into a wonderfully
reverberant environment, and many people immediately
begin playing with it - stamping their feet, shouting,
listening to echoes, making spooky noises with their
kids. It's one of few occasions in everyday life when
people spontaneously engage with sound, and the `effects'
produced are surprisingly nightmarish. In the damp and
dimly-lit tunnels, you could almost convince yourself
that the journey may not end, or that you might be entering
some dark, unknown world. This piece is a walk below
ground in both the sonic and metaphorical sense, an
imaginary journey in which the sounds of the tunnel,
and the people, drift in and out of focus, become intensified
or surreal or fade inexplicably to silence. Things aren't
what they seem, until the music returns to the surface.
Underground has also been used as the soundtrack for
a film, Below the Surface by Paul Rodgers, with whom
the original sounds were recorded.