The new soundscape created by staff and volunteers from the Unlocking Our Sound Heritage project has been going down a storm in the exhibition space here at the London Metropolitan Archives in Farringdon. ‘Going down’ also happens to be the subject of the exhibition itself: Under Ground London is a fascinating and extensive exploration of the hidden histories submerged beneath the surface of the Capital – from lost rivers and sewers to tunnels, bunkers, shelters, remains and ruins. You can listen to a short extract from the soundscape below, and for maximum effectiveness we would encourage you to enjoy the following clip below ground, perhaps while travelling on the tube, provided the wifi holds out?
Designed for use at low-level and accompanied by projections of vintage films from the LMA collection, the soundtrack consists of electronic tones and textures combined with modern field recordings by London tour guide and UOSH project volunteer Andrea Vail. The brief was to produce ‘…an abstract sound portrait of some of London’s hidden spaces’ and the response so far has been most gratifying. The team wanted to create ‘an experience evocative of the sounds every Londoner will recognise: distant trains in tunnels, the squealing of wheels, the rush hour claustrophobia and the occasional sudden moments of unexpected calm and solitude. The creation of a modern soundtrack also acts as a slight juxtaposition to the more historical nature of the films on display, bringing the past into the present…’
Entry is free and this fascinating exhibition runs at the London Met Archives until the end of October 2019. Well worth a visit if you’re passing – and you might even catch a glimpse of the UOSH team, hard at work in our endeavours to catalogue and digitise the 5,000 ‘at risk’ sound recordings we’ve been tasked with preserving. But one minor note of caution, not all of the exhibition is suitable for those of a squeamish disposition!