Train Pieces

Train Pieces.Definitiva-page-001

Download link    Hazard Records hr089

Train Piece #1 (Ono Piece) 2’43”
Train Piece #2 (Harrison Piece) 4’30”
Train Piece #3 (McCartney Piece) 5’47”
Train Piece #4 (Fab Four Piece) 2’59”
Train Piece #5 (Martin Piece) 6’02”
Train Piece #6 (Starkey Piece) 3’44”
Train Piece #7 (POB Piece) 5’05”
Train Piece #8 (Wings Piece) 3’32”
Train Piece #9 (Lennon Piece) 8’18”

Bonus Track : Extended Club Mix.The Cavern Piece (They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?) 12’35”

Antoni Robert: field recordings, sound processing, pictures & artwork

public domain
free download

Sounds recorded and processed in 2015-2016 with zoom H2n and iphone.
I play no instruments in this recording.
This is deliberately a low-fi work.

In the Yoko Ono-Plastic Ono Band LP (1970) there’s a track called “Paper Shoes” starting for some 2 minutes just with the sound of a train. I found this track fascinating. Since then I’ve always had in mind to do a sound work using just the sound of passing by trains. And 46 years later here it is.

Dedicated with the greatest respect to Yoko Ono.


Do you enjoy the buzz of a city?
Are you fond of trains?
Do you like to drift off into a world of the imagination?

Then welcome to a triptych of albums from Antoni Robert.

All three are based on field recordings electronically manipulated and edited to create a series of encapsulated experiences, evoking both city-dwelling commuter reality and a musicianship both hard-edged and whimsical, in turn. As for locations, “…S-Bahn…” was recorded in Berlin, and “St. Petersburg Soundscapes” in… guess where? The middle of the three is more of a mystery, but was inspired by a Plastic Ono Band track (Paper Shoes) and each track title has a Beatles-y dedication so it’s tempting to wonder about Liverpool. Anyway…

In September 2015, Robert attended the Lifelines festival in Berlin (and event dedicated to the music of Hans-Joachim Roedelius. Travelling to the concert hall each day took him through seven different S-Bahn stations. The sounds recorded on this daily commute were combined with recordings from Brian Eno’s sound installation “For Achim” (part of the festival) and became the inspiration and root sounds for the first album, combining captured voices, announcements, public transport (of course), street noise and more in an array of compelling sonic collages.

Similarly, time spent in St. Petersburg furnished the sonic materials for the third in the series, although this one is less ‘train-y’, delving into other public spaces for inspiration (a church?). It is at times more ambient than its companions and yet also includes fragments of actual musical performances.

The middle of the three, “Train Pieces”, is pure railway. The nine tracks are seamlessly edited into a single suite of train noises, used to create hypnotic rhythms and industrial moods. The bonus track is an “Extended Club Mix” and stands alone with dance-like beats ebbing and flowing like the tide.

I’m not well-versed in field recordings as a genre but these works remind me of Chris Watson’s “El Tren Fantasma” (about a now defunct coast-to-coast Mexican railway journey) only where Watson emphasised the rural, Robert is steeped in the urban. As a city boy, that speaks to me. There’s a sense of loving care in the precision with which each track is assembled, adding flourishes such as tannoy announcements or street musicians, while building themes through delicate repetition.

Mesmerising and engaging in equal measure, these recordings are both musically and aurally satisfying, and curious tributes to both train travel and city living.

Music (and more) from the real world.




Antoni Robert heard ‘Paper Shoes’ by the Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band in 1970 and very much enjoyed the first two minutes of train sounds, and always wanted to do an album of passing trains himself and now, forty-six years later, he has his album, along with a 3″CDR with a radical remix. You realize that Robert is not a very young artist. Last year he already recorded an album for Hazard but otherwise has a low profile. These nine pieces use the sound of passing trains but they are sampled and maybe, so I was thinking, looking at the titles, sampled from the original Ono piece. They are called ‘Ono Piece’, ‘McCartney Piece’, ‘Fab Four Piece’, ‘Starkey Piece’, etc, all references to the Liverpool four. I dug out
the original album, which obviously as a true fan I have, and well, it might be that Robert sampled these train sounds, but maybe not. It is just not entirely clear I’d say. Tracks cross fade into each other on this disc and not necessarily at the start of a new track point on the disc. Sometimes it stays a bit too long in the same sample range, without many changes and that’s a pity. These nine pieces can be seen as one long, forty-three minute piece, but effectively could have been a bit shorter, if Robert was a bit more intense on the editing. The train sounds are not always easily recognized but that’s what makes this great. That, and the stereo separation that adds to the feeling this going from left to right, like a
moving train.
The twelve-minute remix on the 3″CDR brings out the rhythm to the party and let’s get this party on the train tracks, then. The rhythm pumps away, while some other train sounds acts as hi-hats or toms. It is all quite minimal, but that’s the kind of thing (I guess) one expects that from a techno inspired piece, right? I can’t see people dancing their socks off but I enjoyed the idea of a dance mix from this very much. (FdW)