Paris Métro sounds

9th May 2018

I love walking around cities, and phonography / location recording is one of my favourite things: it’s a chance to listen carefully to the sound textures and rhythms of a place. Here’s some sound recorded in Paris, late 2017.

Don’t get me started about how good the Paris Metro sounds. Last year we visited Paris for a weekend and I got some recordings of doors opening and closing, announcements through weirdly shaped speakers, and those gorgeous, dissonant door buzzers.

I got the sense the buzzers in 2017 weren’t as crazy-sounding as when we visited previously: I remember them being edgily, acridly detuned, and feeling that they worked well as a warning about the brutal train doors.

Last year, I suspected that newer buzzers were more in tune with each other, which made them less sonically interesting. I guess manufacturing processes get tighter as time goes by, and it’s maybe too much to ask Paris to insist on sloppy buzzer circuits just to preserve a tradition of jarring sound. But I’m pleased I found some reasonably honky examples while they’re still in circulation.

I’m not sure how long the mechanical carnet ticket-dispensing machines will last too, so it was great to record some of those. They have a fantastic rhythm about them.

The carnet dispensers ended up in an abstract found-sound track I made, called Ver. Also features some chiller cabinets in Liverpool Lime Street Marks & Spencer Simply Food, and springs from an old bedframe.