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Sao Bento, Porto – The Navigator

The Sao Bento train station in Porto, Portugal is a stunning space and no mistake – the entrance hall is full of beautiful azulejo tile images depicting scenes from Portuguese history, and the experience is more like walking into a historical palace than a train station.

Of course, given that it’s possibly one of the world’s most beautiful stations, it’s full of tourists at all times, and the entrance hall seemed to be more full of people taking photos for Instagram than actual travellers. This recording captures a busy entrance hall, and out onto the platforms we hear announcements and the hissing of trains.

City version:

In reimagining Sao Bento station for this piece, we wanted to foreground the feelings the space gave us in its own right, and background the distracting hubbub of tourists jostling for Instagram photos.

The resulting composition is a spacious, stripped-back instrumental, in which the field recording lies throughout as a bed, held safely at a distance and only making itself known periodically throughout the piece.

The music itself is a representation of the feeling we had looking up at the scenes of history on the azulejo-tiled walls, from the Battle of Valdevez in 1140 to the work scenes of wine shippers and watermill workers. The title comes from the depiction in the station of Prince Henry the Navigator.

Memory version: