Back to the Métro

1st November 2019

We got to visit Paris again this October (2019), and I was able to jump on the Métro again with a portable recorder.

I love the sound of the Métro, I’m irrationally attached to it. Well… to be honest the sound of central Paris at ground level is astonishing too, with its Hausmann street canyon echos, but jumping from that into the Métro and back… Damn.

This year I was worried that the older, noisier trains might be on their way out. So I did a foray jumping from line to line; and found that trains on ligne 11 – Châtelet to Porte des Lilas – still have aggressive, snapping metal doors with mechanical release handles, dissonant sirens (which are my ultimate ASMR jam), and – in the driver’s carriages – metal bells that ping just before the train pulls away.

I hopped on at Belleville as a quick homage to The Three, and got extra lucky, standing at a door that caught a little on its runners while it was closing, which added even more clunky sonic texture as it closed.

I rode the train to and from Porte des Lilas a few times, scoring some nutritious recordings, which I’ll try to edit down and upload over the next few weeks.

Quick note: I’ve got a feeling the full effect of the siren dissonance might, in the end, be unrecordable – the flavour comes from the individual sirens being out of tune with each other, so the texture’s distributed across the whole carriage. What you’d need is a Belleville Three of recordists, at different positions in the carriage, catching different tones, and a bunch of speakers to play it back… That’d sound amazing…