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The ghosts of Angel

Three for the price of one today – three sound artists have tackled the sounds of Angel station’s ticket hall, and it’s fascinating to hear the different approaches to the same sound source.

City version:

First up is Tom Miller, who takes a historical perspective:

“The corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road has long been an important London crossroads. For some 500 years it was the site of various incarnations of The Angel, a legendary pub and travelers’ inn.

“The adjacent underground railway station opened in 1901. A century ago, such rail hubs were scenes of transport for British troops heading to the front in the First World War.

angel“In this mix, sounds of the bustling contemporary underground station blend with static carrying traces of the ghosts of the First World War, from the excitement and good-byes of leaving for the front to the poison gas bombardment and carnage of trench warfare.

“The resonant frequencies of the Angel Islington ticket hall resolve into the echoes of a choir and the voice of Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae reciting his famous poem, a memento mori for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers who never returned home from the battlefields of Ypres and the Somme.”

Audio sources:

  • Angel Islington ticket hall c. 2016 Cities and Memory & London Sound Survey
  • Audio dramas or “descriptive sketches” from 1916-1918 (contemporaneous recorded re-enactments of war scenes by Maj A. E. Rees and others)
  • Gas Shells Bombardment (1918) Leaving for the Front (1917) For Valour (1917) With Our Boys At the Front (1916) In the Trenches (1917) The Big Push (1917) from Historic Voices XI: The Great War LP (Saland Publishing 2008)
  • Popular songs from the front and the home front There’s a Long, Long Trail – John McCormack (1917)
  • Victrola 10” shellac 64694 Keep The Home Fires Burning – John McCormack (1914)
  • Victrola 10” shellac 64696 Will You Remember – Alice Green and Raymond Dixon (1918)
  • Victor 10” shellac 18399-A In Flanders Fields Poem recited by John McCrae Lest We Forget… LP Imperial War Museum AV00824 (2013)
  • Choral setting by John Jacobson Brisbane Birralee Voices Voices of Birralee – Come to the Music LP (2000)

Memory version by Tom Miller:

Next is Andy Lyon, one of our most regular contributors, who writes of his piece:

“The song was arranged, produced and recorded live in Usine Hollyhock II. I’ve used TAL Noisemaker for the synth, Bass Engine CM, Breaktweaker for the kick rhythm with groove matrix and homing pad in Hollyhock for percussive rhythm and Aalto for some effects.

“The recording has been cut up and used for the percussive rhythm, I’d like to say it was intentional to make a sound like travelling on the tube however it was accidental. I’ve also used various voices from the recording at normal pitch and also re-pitched and processed with delays.”

Memory version by Andy Lyon:

And finally, a third take on the same sound by Yol:

“The original file was put into an app called Samplr and then played on a loop, slowed down in places etc., and the vocals/feedback/other sounds were added over that, all in real time.

“It’s a hard track, i’ve given the source file a bit of a battering but a lot of it still comes through.

“The whole thing sums up my love/hate relationship with the tube. Everyday paranoid mobility.”

Memory version by Yol: