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1.00 am – In a tunnel, under the river (and in a sex shop)

After the moment of calm by the Alster, we head south of the river for a late-night entry to the Old Elbtunnel, a mostly-pedestrian tunnel under the river to St. Pauli. Cars can pass through the narrow tunnel via a lift, but this is closed from the early evening, meaning that later on the tunnel is purely for pedestrians and cyclists. There’s a vast, cavernous reverb throughout the space, and a low hum from the air conditioning throughout, which when coupled with the reverb sounds enormous. Sonically fascinating space, and more so when there are no noisy cars, just the sounds of chatting people and bicycles whizzing past.

To Cape Town we head with this sound, and it’s over to Restive, who contributed the Cape Town sound map on this site, to tackle this with his interpretation, which he’s mixed with samples from our field recording inside a sex shop on the Reeperbahn. Since we’re heading back to St. Pauli and the Reeperbahn to catch up with events there next, this sound prefigures our next stop on the trip too.

Restive says:
“On the tunnel recording one of the first things I noticed was quite a nice hum from the ventilation system at around 264Hz, which I isolated & tweaked (amplified, filtered, detuned, etc), duplicated this track with slightly different tweaking on each. The second thing was to isolate all the instances of the ‘calls’ in the recording which I sent through a delay effect to make them extra reverby & magnify the space even further. I duplicated this track and reversed it and did a whole lot of tweaking to it (it’s the ‘spooky’ backwards spectral thing that happens throughout). When I noticed that no one apparently had the balls to tackle the ‘sex shop’ recording (it was totally conspicuous by it’s unclaimed isolation on the list) I decided to use it also. I turned the volume on it way down and filtered it even further so that there was only some low throbbing and a hint of the vocals. A copy of this I passed through a tracker plugin (which is where the tinkly, bubbly bits come from). It ended up adding quite a bit of weird sonic interest which was none the less derived directly from the sound envelope of the original recording.”

City version one:


City version two:


Memory version: