The Present Sound of London
July 21, 2009 4:13 AM   Subscribe

The Present Sound of London -- "I’ve been lured to London by money at the hottest, stickiest time of year. Every time I visit, I’m struck by the noises—not necessarily their volume, but their strangeness and variety in comparison to the quiet humdrum of the provincial town where I live. So this time I’m equipped with an audio recorder." By Giles Turnbull.
posted by nthdegx (8 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Nice. Not to be confused with The Future Sound of London.
posted by exogenous at 5:03 AM on July 21, 2009 [1 favorite]

posted by vacapinta at 5:30 AM on July 21, 2009

I don't usually listen to things on the web, but this was well worth making an exception for.

Giles Turnbull, by the way.
posted by blech at 5:46 AM on July 21, 2009

Two camp guys cavort 'round
Waterloo station
Eh-at eight a.m.

They’re talking too loudly
Invading the pers'nal
Space of their fellow Londoners

But they don’t
Care -- perhaps aware

They’re setting off a chain
Of disapproving tuts
They stop and make the best a-

pology They can:
Disapproving sounds
oh-of their own.

Did he purposely write this to fit (albeit roughly) the meter of Waterloo Sunset?
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:04 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Also, this is an awesome link. I love urban field recordings. lupus_yonderboy once sent me a lovely recording of a mosque's call to prayer in Istanbul.

I've always found that a sound recording says more than a thousand pictures. Well, not quite, but you get my drift.

If anyone has any cool city audio to share, let's hear it!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:08 AM on July 21, 2009

Wow, thanks for posting this. It really resonates with me because I moved to London after growing up in a smallish rural village. I love a lot of things about this city, but after living here for years I still can't get used to the way that it never gets quiet, it never gets dark, and I could walk for miles in any direction and still be surrounded by buildings and people.

It's really interesting to see someone else take notice of all the ambient noises to which proper Londoners are practically oblivious, but seem so unnatural and obtrusive to someone from outside.
posted by metaBugs at 6:19 AM on July 21, 2009

I like the way the sounds and his descriptions of them work together.

I am starting to get interested in the idea of making a collection of automated announcements from places like trains, airports and stations; it could tell a future generation a lot about our society. There is a great one at Waverley station in Edinburgh (repeated about once a minute at about 110 decibels) which is of the type about not leaving luggage unattended lest it be "damaged or destroyed". The female voice says the word "destroyed" in such a strange, sociopathic manner that I always picture her, and some cronies meeting up to get a tremendous thrill from knocking the shit of a hapless passenger's lost backpack.
posted by rongorongo at 6:54 AM on July 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

the recordings all sound surprisingly sedate. my own experience is that the place is damnably loud & punishingly cacophonous at all times, primarily due to road traffic. i think there is some kind of law that any momentary abatement of volume below 5 million decibels has to be immediately addressed by either an ear-splitting siren or a motorcycle engine being revved to a degree as insane as it is unnecessary.
posted by salo at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2009

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