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The Next Station

Today marks the launch of the first ever sound map of the London Underground. Brainchild of Oxford-based composer/musician and crazy sound collector genius Stuart Fowkes, The Next Station takes field recordings from all over the Tube and juxtaposes them with original music composed by people from all over the place - including me!

I'm so happy to be involved with this, even though I didn't have a lot of time to spend on it (I actually laid down the basic track in three hours, and then spent about another hour or so tweaking the mix, so it was pretty rushed); but it was so nice to be writing some of my own music again, after spending so much of the last three years writing about the wonderful music of the Langās and Māngaṇiyārs from Rajasthan. I have even cobbled together a quick video to go with the tune, which features some footage from a train journey through the desert between Hamira village and Jaisalmer. Check it out, and see if you can 'Find The Gap':

Stuart was very kind to let me have a crack at his brilliant sound recording of a typically delayed Circle Line journey from Mansion House to Canon Street - right in the thick of the City - and as soon as I heard it, I knew I could have some fun with it. The concept for my piece came from a moment on the original field recording where the all-too-familiar sound of some strange, digitally disembodied man warns us: “Mind the gap between the train and the platform edge”. At the moment when he utters the first syllable of the first word, the train makes a weird sound – possibly air escaping from the brakes – and this coincides with the man’s voice, giving the illusion that he has said “Find the gap”.

Using this idea of escape as my starting point, I created an atmospheric backdrop of sounds that sit behind the full length of the original recording (5 minutes and 5 seconds), slowly building towards a journey that takes the passengers, not to Canon Street, but away from the chaos and alienation of the city, and finally back to a more soothing natural environment. If you get a chance to have a look and a listen, I hope you like it; and anyway please do take the time to check out Stuart's website for the project. I love it so much, I put the link in twice.