Another sound recording, this one made beneath Gravelly Hill Interchange, otherwise known as Spaghetti Junction. I was on a workshop led by Ian Rawes of the London Sound Survey, exploring the cavernous spaces where two rivers, three canals, and two trainlines intersect some twenty-five metres below a motorway junction.
Here are some sounds recorded in Birmingham’s Bull Ring markets I posted to radio aporee:
(Click on the red circle to start playback. Decent headphones or speakers recommended.)
radio aporee is a really great project run by Udo Noll. You can read more about the origins and philosophy of the project in my interview with Udo here.
It’s that feeling again, that nameless anxiety, the squeeze of the shoulders and tightness of the neck, the shallow breathing: shouldn’t I be doing something? Starting a campaign. Joining a political party. Writing erudite polemical rants for The Guardian. Almost anything other than what I’m doing now, in fact. Which is sitting on the sofa, listening to music.
The dérive was invented by the Letterist International in the 1950s, so it is said, though its roots go back much further, to Baudelaire’s notion of the flâneur and probably beyond. Pick an orientation, start walking; change direction on an impulse, an intuition, drawn by the name of a street, the shape of a traffic island, the forlornness of a tree. Be led by the city. This practice is central to Laura Oldfield Ford’s work as an artist, and the starting point of her new exhibition at Birmingham artist-run space Grand Union.
A friend recently asked me to dig something out of my archive for him, but somewhere amidst the years’ multiple computer and OS changes the fragment of writing he was looking for seems to have vanished. I did manage to find the following poem, which struck me as seeming particularly resonant in these uncertain days, hence the posting:
We tread carefully, dust clinging
to our feet; the clicking
Thoughts unpacking themselves.
Where we go there are no
footprints, only inverted shadows:
we can’t pronounce
the name of our country,
the nation to which
The sun charts our progress
with her sextant.
Windows open and close,
their frames glistening
like the surface of a lake
seen from below.
I suppose it’s about time I set out my position on the forthcoming UK referendum on whether to remain a member of the European Union. I thought about discussing the factual inaccuracy and irrationality of some of the arguments being put forth by proponents of both options on the ballot paper, but I realised that this would be pointless, because this isn’t a referendum that will be decided by reason or rationality. Besides, I came to understand that my own leanings around this issue were ultimately based less on reason than on a certain kind of faith. But more on that later.
On holiday I read Every Song Ever: Twenty Ways to Listen to Music Now, by New York Times music critic Ben Ratliff. The author’s intention was to propose strategies for listening to and appreciating music in an era when vast amounts of it are available for free on the Internet, through legal streaming services services or illicit downloads. His starting assumption was that technological and economic shifts have produced corresponding changes in listening habits, requiring different approaches to the art if we are going to get the most out of it. I wandered glibly into the book, thinking it would be entertaining to read something by a professional, qualified music critic; I came away with a bit more than I’d bargained for.