The recording was made in February 2019 during a residency in Reims. The short soundscape charts the route from my apartment to the studio space in which I was working.
Proceeding from the apartment through the beautiful old heavy wooden door that sealed the courtyard from the street beyond, up the Rue des Capucins and onto the Rue Hincmar, the soundscape slowly moves from relatively deserted streets to the busier central part of the city. Traversing the Rue Chazny brings the listener to the Rue Libergier and the stunning approach to the imposing 13th-century Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. The cafe cries, speeding moped over the cobbled streets and other quotidian sounds now seem distinctly otherworldly to me after almost three months of lockdown. The soundscape then charts the walk from the Cathédrale up Rue du Trésor before finishing at the Rue Carnot.
Listening back at this recording now I am struck by its simplicity, a normality I am sure we are all yearning for.
i’m not an urban person. i was born and raised, and have spent most of my life, in rural environments, and perhaps as a consequence of that my tolerance for large cities is relatively low. However, when i began to spend time with Monty’s recording it made me realise just how long it’s been since i’ve been caught up in the bustle of cityscapes, which, for me, these days i almost exclusively associate with festivals and concerts. To my complete surprise, i found myself longing for it, for the opportunity to be surrounded and lost in the midst of traffic noise, a myriad conversations and all the everyday clatter that constitute the essence and vitality of city life.
Where i live, in rural Gloucestershire, is nowhere near as built-up as Reims, but it’s not tiny either, and even though the lockdown is gradually being eased, when i travelled into our town centre yesterday the high street, despite many of the shops now being allowed to open, was still a shadow of what it was like just a few months ago. Normality, however that’s now being (re)defined, feels like it’s still a long way off. i’m fortunate in that, during the lockdown, i’ve been able to immerse myself in the countryside by, literally, crossing the road – yet now i find myself craving the opposite.
This is the only recording i’ve thus far featured in Outside-In where we’re moving through the environment rather than remaining still to listen, but more importantly it’s also the only one that obviously comes from the perspective of a human being – as opposed to a recording device. This makes Monty’s recording all the more personal, and the fact that his progression through the streets of Reim begins and ends behind closed doors is especially poignant at the current time.
All of the recordings featured in Outside-In are available to download or stream; there’s no charge for downloading, but you’re free to make a payment if you wish, and all proceeds made will be shared among the contributors.
If you have a recording you would like to be considered for this project, please see the Call for Recordings information below.
Call for Recordings
If you have a recording you would like to be considered for Outside-In, the guidelines are very simple:
- approximately 5-15 minutes’ duration – long enough to allow some decent immersion;
- no obvious editing – recordings can be discreetly edited but should generally sound like a single recording, with no sudden cuts;
- no indoor or underwater recordings – all in the open air;
- no speech or overt human noises, apart from perhaps in the distance or as a part of the ambiance/surroundings;
- the recording doesn’t need to be made using high-end equipment, but should be good enough to be enjoyed transparently, without attention drawn to its shortcomings.
Please note: the idea is that the recordings were made before the lockdown, but if you would like to make one that reflects the current, quieter state of the world – without breaking any local rules on going outside in the process! – then that’s absolutely fine.
To send your recording, please use the 5:4 Contact form and in the “Your Message” section please include the following:
- a download link to your recording (via WeTransfer, or equivalent), which should preferably be in compressed lossless format (e.g. FLAC – no lossy recordings!);
- information about the place, time and situation in which the recording took place – as much or as little detail as you would like to share;
- a Google Maps link to the exact/approximate location where the recording was made.