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A ballad for the Davos billionaires

In January 2020 we attended the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

For one week every year, this high-end ski resort in the Swiss Alps transforms from a peaceful haven in the mountains to the global focus, as world and business leaders descend on the town in private jets and helicopters to discuss the biggest issues in the world. The town is cordoned off with military-grade security, all the shops are transformed into marketing popups for global brands like Philip Morris and Cisco, and the peace in the Alpine air is disturbed every few minutes by a helicopter flying in yet another leader.

We took a lift up to the mountainside above the town to record the soundscapes, as you can hear the normally-tranquil scene being disrupted by a helicopter descending into Davos.

City version:

It’s the world’s biggest gathering of leaders, and having experienced what it’s like to be there, it really is like a hermetically-sealed bubble of big business and political leaders unlike anything else. The constant arrival of motorcades, private jets and helicopters bringing in the rich and powerful is very striking, and inspired this piece.

We start with Professor Rutger Bregman’s viral speech from Davos, at which he attacks the hypocrisy of tax-avoiding billionaires, and take in other notable on-site protests at Davos from Leonardo Di Caprio and Greta Thunberg – Davos is notable for the relative lack of confrontational, oppositional speakers, replaced instead by a lot of back-slapping and chin-stroking pontification.

The opening section represents Davos all year round, a quiet mountain town in the peace of the Alps, in itself a witness to the increasing impacts of climate change – the louder sections are built around the helicopter field recording, representing the WEF taking over the town and the news agenda, and also standing for the noise and bluster that rarely amounts to meaningful positive action in our world.

From a compositional standpoint, we’ve deliberately given ourselves a limited palette of instruments for this piece, creating it entirely using Spitfire Audio’s excellent – and free – Labs instruments.

Memory version: