Station to Station

Station to Station, TodaysArt 2008

“I think this is an audaciously brilliant response to the present proliferation of sound artists working with field recordings (brought about largely by cheaper technology of a suitable quality)…
It’s probably not a particularly new idea, given the history of musique concrete, noise machines, the ideas of John Cage, etc (although I’m certainly not an expert on this history). Also, an idea like this is impressive just in the official support that would be required from the host city to approve and pull it off.  For instance, I don’t imagine seeing this in London without a really big name behind it.

I’m speaking of a live sound performance by Staalplaat Soundsystem and others, “playing” the trains, travelers, bicycles and other occupants of the Central Station in The Hague, Netherlands (see the description & video below).
Isn’t this exactly what many field recording artists are attempting to do in producing/performing sound montages?  – i.e. create some sort of musical composition comprised of the timbres, rhythms and frequencies of disparate sound elements in a way you would never hear them together in life? In this performance, a simple video documentary by one audience member records (a lower quality version) of the type of sound field recording composers attempt often – but in this performance, every member of the audience would have had a unique experience, mediated by their own existence and movements within the performance site…  it’s so much more than a composition playing back from a laptop, improvised or not”. — Sonic Surrounds

Station to Station is not just a performance. It uses instruments, but highly unusual ones; the Central Station-building itself, including all the people and other sources of sound, such as machines, are interpreted by the artists as instruments. This performance does not distinguish between ‘music’ and ‘sound’.

As a part of the act, in cooperation with NS (=the Dutch railroad company), a whole range of trains and trams will enter the station in a strict choreography called The Tsunami, with all the train and tram engineers working together. Sounds from travelers will also be amplified through microphones as part of the performance, and Achim Wollscheid will use computer-driven magnets that play the bicycles in front of the station like a toposonic typewriter. The performance is formed by a collaboration between Staalplaat Soundsystem (NL / DE), Mike Rijnierse, Erik Hobijn and Jens Alexander Ewald .