Playlist: Cathedral Soundwalk

Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, interior (image via wiki)

Plug in your earphones and let Anthony Ellis takes you on a special ‘sound walk’ along Hope Street…

Being from Manchester, I’ve always said that Liverpool has three things, amongst others, that Cottonopolis doesn’t: a huge expanse of water in the city centre and two great cathedrals. So when I mentioned writing a playlist for The Double Negative, for a walk in Liverpool, I immediately thought of a saunter between the Anglican and the Metropolitan.

TDN told me they liked their playlists to be ten songs so I figured it would only be fair to list five songs for each cathedral; side one for the Anglican, side two for the Metropolitan. But what would I choose to play?

I’ve been working with sound walks for some time now – how listening to music in a space (any space!) can feel like a cinematic process, an imaging of environment and sound. However, it’s always difficult trying to make formal and  meaningful connections between song and place. I thought for this walk it might be good to have a conceptual set up, that narrowed the choices down.

“I decided to select songs from the year that each cathedral was completed”

After a few failed attempts, I decided to select songs from the year that each cathedral was completed, from two music scenes that were prevalent in these years. I felt that in some way the architectural forms of the cathedrals would network with sounds from the period.

Of course, the Anglican Cathedral is a twentieth century building in the Gothic revival style and so its cultural-historical networks are complex and refracted. (It also had a long construction period which complicated matters further.) However, I still felt there was something in what I was working through – it was a start – and, so, for the Anglican, which was completed in 1978, I chose to image the space with Italo Disco (predominantly from the sub/cross-genre Space Disco).

“I realised how well the disco worked with both cathedrals, drawing out that feeling of awe and the sublime”

For the Metropolitan, which was completed in 1967, I opted for Acid Rock but,  after a bit of Spotifying around and trying the Italo Disco tracks in the spaces of the cathedrals, I realised how well the disco worked with both cathedrals, drawing out that feeling of awe and the sublime (in the Romantic sense) that the structures can inspire. Hence, I decided to kick the acid rock into touch and work only with Italo Disco and the scenes that Italo Disco influenced, such as Detroit Techno, UK Techno, etc.

So, to the Anglican choices. You’ll probably know Giorgio Moroder‘s Chase. It’s a bit of an obvious start but I had to get you warmed up. (To note, it’s worth checking out the original twelve sleeve design on Google image search.) Next up, I can’t help but fall for the tinfoil-synth cobbled-togetherness of Dee D Jackson’s Automatic Lover. The same for Droid by Automat, although make sure it’s the single version you download, unless you’ve got time to kill. Tout Petite La Planete isn’t my top pick, but I was still trying to keep religiously (sorry!) to the 1978 vibe at this point. Saturn by Ganymed has a squeeze of Clockwork Orange.

Side deux and the Metropolitan. As I mentioned, I started to move away from just Italo Disco and into scenes that it influenced, hence some of the following choices. I popped in Kano’s I’m Ready for the walk up Hope Street, between the two cathedrals. (Hopefully you’ll get some cinema tracking shot vibes strutting your stuff.) Then straight into Factory record’s Peak District synth-gem Looking from a Hilltop.

I struggled for a middle track so I opted for Chime by Orbital for obvious (perhaps too obvious) reasons. After that I take a turn left-field with Maurice Jarre, Jean Michel Jarre’s lesser known father. Back in the day, he was known for composing David Lean soundtracks. Here I’ve suggested the song Building the Barn from the Harrison Ford movie Witness. Just weirdly brilliant. By the nature of the movie’s content, there is obviously a religious undertone: it wouldn’t be hard to network this track to a cultural history of religious sound.

I finish on Aphex Twin number Polynomial-C, figuring the expansive psyched out scapes would work well with the scenes of the place, imagining a freak out dystopian never-never land, where electro disciples dig the technological sublime… whilst on the sniff. If you circle the building to this track it really feels as if the structure and the music are montaging in a cinematic sense. When you see the cross on the building’s north side it’s quite powerful.

One last thing, I also reversed the connections: I played the Anglican tracks in and around the Metropolitan and the Metropolitan tracks in and around the Anglican. Swapped the sides. The techno stuff worked great in the Anglican. It’s a double A side, kids.

Anthony Ellis

Posted on 31/03/2014 by thedoublenegative