Mind the gap at Embankment
Possibly the most famous sound of the London Underground is the familiar call of ‘mind the gap’, heard here at Embankment station.
The announcement was voiced by Phil Sayer, who sadly died earlier this year, and was first introduced in 1968, becoming an iconic part of London’s soundscape.
Our first reimagined version comes from Alex Hehir, who writes:
“I’m really interested in the electrical sounds and general ambience of the underground network and used this as my inspiration for the piece.
“The rhythmic elements of the piece are made from electrical noises and sub bass tones.
“I decided to write a fast piece, at times random arpeggiated synthesised patterns to reflect the hectic pace of this subterranean world.
“I used much of the original recording including a mutated version of the classic ‘Mind the gap’ public announcement.”
Memory version by Alex Hehir:
The second version is by Robin the Fog AKA Howlround, who created this piece:
“The ‘melodic’ part of the piece was constructed largely from a small part of the original recording, the high-pitch squeak of a train entering the station on the District line platform.
“This sound was dubbed onto tape, cut into a loop, stretched across the studio and then played back at different speeds to create different pitches.
“The slight fluctuations in pitch you’ll hear is the tape loop snagging on various items of furniture. Additional parts of the piece were made by recreating the original journey between platforms and making new recordings.
“Despite parts of the final track having a very saturated feel, I like to think the subject matter remains unmistakable. Even though the sounds were very brief and recorded on the platform, it feels as though you’re on a train in a tunnel travelling under the Thames (which is appropriate, given Embankment’s location).
“I suppose I was trying to evoke the impact the Underground had on my imagination during rare trips to London as a youngster with its soundtrack of distant subterranean rumbles and sudden unearthly screeches. I’ve been trying to make music that evokes that world ever since!”
Memory version by Howlround:
The final version of this sound was by long-standing contributor Colin Ventura, who says of his piece:
“I’ve only used the original recording, no other sounds have been added.
“My piece comes about from considering what it means by going underground, for instance imagining entering an underworld, a place that can be frightening and discombobulating if you haven’t been there before.
“The underground is also a place without natural light, so the sounds become heavier and more foreboding the deeper you go.
“Since Embankment is on the circle line, I also considered the idea of moving continuously, but without ever getting anywhere, of travelling without moving.”
Memory version by Colin Ventura: