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Cities and Memory - remixing the world
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Cities and Memory - remixing the world

Author: Cities and Memory

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Cities and Memory remixes the world, one sound at a time - a global collaboration between artists and sound recordists all over the world.

The project presents an amazingly-diverse array of field recordings from all over the world, but also reimagined, recomposed versions of those recordings as we go on a mission to remix the world.

What you'll hear in the podcast are our latest sounds - either a field recording from somewhere in the world, or a remixed new composition based solely on those sounds. Each podcast description tells you more about what you're hearing, and where it came from.

There are more than 6,000 sounds featured on our sound map, spread over more than 120 countries and territories. The sounds cover parts of the world as diverse as the hubbub of San Francisco’s main station, traditional fishing women’s songs at Lake Turkana, the sound of computer data centres in Birmingham, spiritual temple chanting in New Taipei City or the hum of the vaporetto engines in Venice. You can explore the project in full at http://www.citiesandmemory.com
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After the hustle and bustle from the market, there is nothing better than a great hike rambling up the hillside over the old town. Up the mountain, stone walls zig-zag their way up to the crumbling ruins of a castle which lead up to San Giovanni Fortress.  Visiting the fortress allows you to see the beautiful Old Town from above as well as the imposing mountains surrounding it. The walls are truly a breathtaking example of how nature and man can intersect harmoniously.  The ruins of Kotor Fortress are located 280 metres above the sea level and have served as an impenetrable shield for centuries. The hike can be quite challenging especially for a climb in the sweltering heat, however it is extremely rewarding once you get to the top and are able to enjoy the panoramic view of the surrounding area and Kotor Bay below.  Climbing up the rough cobblestones on my way to the highest viewpoint, I was able to hear the beautiful song of birds in the background with the panoramic sounds of the old town at large. The best way to fully appreciate the 1350 steps later and I was at the top, feeling the beauty and intersecting harmony of the sun setting over the whole bay. It was very romantic, a great moment to share with someone.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
We all have our dreams about special places and it feels like my past self had the dream to visit the little seaside town of ​Perast​, an abandoned renaissance by the sea with the most beautiful retreat in Kotor Bay.  Perast is the right place to sneak away from the crowds at the marina where dozens of cruise ships arrive every day.  Today, Perast is mostly an abandoned town, with barely 350 people inhabiting the narrow streets and numerous, mostly, baroque palaces that form the richness aesthetics along the liminal Kotor Bay. On this binaural recording, the listener can naturally feel the gentle swell in the late hours of the afternoon as the waves splash on the shore and blend naturally to the sunset fading out on the mountain silhouettes. This beach is covered by dark sand and is approximately 1 km long and approximately 25 meters wide and generally has a moderate tidal surge. Perast seems to be this liminal place, a magical place, a jewel of a natural tradition that we should not miss.  The quiet and the serene sound of the sea creates this atmosphere that keeps reminding you that there is no better way to cool off than a swim.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
Usually as soon as I arrive in new destinations, fresh street markets are the first thing I seek out. I enjoy all the colours, tastes and smells of the fruit, fish and cheeses.  Here in Montenegro I just love the popular coastal recipes made with sun-dried figs, olives, cheese, and huge pink tomatoes slow-cooked down to sauce. My favourite daily veggie treat is "Sir iz ulja", soft cheese preserved in olive oil and mixed with distinct herb flavours such as rosemary or marjoram.   Lined up along the coast of the Bay of Kotor and under its Medieval walls, this tiny and picturesque market brought me the authentic local favour I was hoping to capture. The resulting binaural recording is a dynamic and lively soundscape, in which you can hear the vendors ​engaging the customers by inviting them in with cheerful greetings.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
Surrounded by fortress walls, the old city area of Kotor was the cultural and trade center of Kotor Bay throughout the centuries. Any walking route will lead you past palaces dating from between the 15th and 18th centuries.  Curiously all these paths also lead me to find the unfamous rakija (the local firewater of choice) in one of these many cafes which line the square inside the city wall. Indeed, the Old Town’s a place where every time you turn a corner you’ll find something new to absorb your curiosities. Take your time because it’s not a place to be hurried through. In a cobbled side street in Kotor's fortified Old Town, I sit in one of these traditional bars with a rakija glass on my side, and a sonic story to tell.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
If you are not wandering lost in the labyrinth of the old town, you might just be exploring the vast stunning Bay of Kotor, or Boka for the locals. As you travel its length, the Montenegrin coastline had a great impact on me as it gave me that feeling of the  stillness and peace that I was craving. Along the walk alongside the Adriatic Sea, I had the privilege to enjoy the well-preserved medieval towns including Perast, Risan and Tivat. All these tiny little towns rest in between a breathtaking scenery of giant limestone mountains dramatically falling down on to the blue bay. This recording captures a serene moment in which I was sitting on a bench near the port, mindful to hear the still waters of the bay at night.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
As soon as I enter the city the memorable clock tower greets me as I walk into the old city. This old clock tower is beautifully kept as the focal point of the lower town area and rings every hour as you get a feel on this soundscape.  The tower is one of the first things that strikes you as you enter the old town through the main gate and curiously, was carved with the same stone as the city walls in a combination of Baroque and Gothic styles. You’ll see two clock faces on the tower and a small stone pyramid stands in front of it. Apparently, local criminals were tied to the pyramid as a mark of shame. Everything about the town is fairytale-like, even when I was sipping a small cafe cup in one of these picturesque small coffee shops.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
"I've been practicing this piece through the pandemic. Chopin is my favourite composer so his music brings me much comfort. I finished playing the whole piece when I was 13. Here is just an excerpt of it played now at 24. We're in a third national lockdown and it's almost been a year since lockdowns started. There's been more than 100,000 deaths in the UK and every day I watch the news, that number increases. I'm keeping well though with university studies and music to accompany me. My message to every one of you out there is keep going, this will be over one day and the world will open up again in terms of travel, shops, entertainment venues, education facilities and workplaces." Recorded by Elaine Yu in Glasgow, Scotland.  Part of the StayHomeSounds project to map and reimagine the sounds of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
Malta airport, February 2021 - waiting in line for a Covid-19 health check, recorded by Marcel Gnauk.  Part of the StayHomeSounds project to map and reimagine the sounds of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
3655: Welcome, welcome

3655: Welcome, welcome

2021-02-1206:28

Saudi traditional music from Jeddah reimagined by Cities and Memory. For this, I wanted to convey something of the mesmerising aspect of the original track, which had me interested in the first minute, but by the ninth locked into the groove of the drums and singing.  A locked-groove of a drum sample with a lo-pass filter is the rhythmic undercurrent, over which a simple two-note synth line generates head-nodding familiarity. The drones are created by layer upon layer of effected sitar and tambura, with snippets of both the original song's "welcome, welcome" refrain and some inserted synthesised singing, spaced at exact intervals, again to lock the groove in place throughout the duration of the track.
On a trip to Saudi Arabia, we visited the KAUST university complex, about 90 minutes north of Jeddah. As part of the evening's entertainment, we were greeted by an hour or so of traditional Saudi music, driven principally by multiple drummers and two interacting singers running through a repertoire of what were apparently well-known songs. This, the first track, containing the English words "welcome, welcome" in amongst the lyrics, was a ten-minute song that goes through several movements, but with constant drumming and singing in hypnotic loops that became magnetising and trance-like the longer the piece went on. Recorded by Cities and Memory, November 2019.
Sounds from the lockdown in Lille, France by Olivier Pichard. "I'm living in Lille, my house is about 350 meters far from the highway. It's usually very noisy even very early in the morning. At the beginning of lockdown in France, it was very quiet. I've made this recording in April 2020, the 19th around 8 am." Part of the StayHomeSounds project to map and reimagine the sounds of the Covid-19 lockdowns.
3652: Camacupa

3652: Camacupa

2021-02-0804:02

Traditional community singing in a remote rural village near Camacupa, Angola reimagined by Richard Watts. "I wanted to contrast the African singing with something distorted and harsh."
Traditional community singing in a remote rural village near Camacupa, Angola recorded by Mike Bingham. "I was fortunate enough to visit Angola with Oxfam in February 2010 on a story gathering trip. Angola was decimated by a 27 year civil war from 1975-2002 which killed over 500,000 people and displaced a further 1 million. Train lines, roads, airports and basic infrastructure were destroyed (including all but 1 bridge) leaving many communities isolated. We were told 6 million landmines still litter the countryside rendering much of the farmland unusable and forcing Angola to import 80% of its food." "Despite facing these immense challenges, some rural communities have managed to sustain themselves, and even prosper. As we arrived at this community near Camacupa in central Angola, the villagers burst in to song to welcome us. I was moved to tears but managed to document the moment."
Many wouldn't think that Albania would become a great tourist destination one day and that these bunkers would have played a role in that. The major question that pops into our heads is why there are so many bunkers everywhere? Well, it was due to national propaganda perpetrated by the communist regime. Fearing invasion during the Cold War, Albania’s leader Enver Hoxha forced his country to build tens of thousands of bunkers. Long after the regime’s collapse, many still remain and are now overgrown and left alone in the landscapes of Albania, lined like unearthly statues in deserted environments. There are plenty of intriguing bunkers to visit around the city and this soundscape reflects just one of these abandoned lonely hulks standing throughout all weather conditions eroding grain by grain. If you listen to this haunting recording while looking at the photograph you can feel what the photograph cannot: a living presence across a duration of time. Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
To understand Albania's history it is imperative to visit t​he ​giant bunker built to protect Enver Hoxha and his inner circle in the event of an atomic attack, the museum and contemporary art space Bunk Art museum. The bunker was built between 1981 and 1986 as a shelter for top interior ministry officials and was big enough to easily hold hundreds of people. Now The museum and art space reflect the city initiative to use culture to celebrate the birth of a new era, whilst remembering its intense past.​ ​The​ underground long and reverberating dark corridors are ​accessed along a creepy 200-metre tunnel that blasts out eerie soundscapes, almost ​resembling a dark movie. A lonely walk through the ​subterranean labyrinth ​tunnels makes you ​descend into ​a musty five-storey bunker that feels like it was abandoned the day before. It intends to ​unearth the memory of tens of thousands of people who were imprisoned and executed by the communist regime as an acoustic experience of intrinsic value.​ ​An excellent re-imagining of a Communist-era nuclear bunker scenario through sound installations that can inspire the work of a sound designer like myself. So whether you're spending a day or a week in this city, now you have a glimpse of the best places to go and be immersed by the multitude of surrounding sounds that Tirana has to offer. Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
Albania is a secular state, and therefore does not have an official religion. Albanians are known to be highly tolerant towards the religions of others, and therefore believers of various faiths peacefully coexist in the country. Arabs who raided parts of the region in the past introduced their religion to the area and gradually, Islam grew in the country and Albania became one of the two countries in Europe that has a Muslim majority. I stayed in a major Muslim neighbourhood and fortunately was able to capture the moment of one of their five daily prayers. The call to prayer ringing from the minaret of the mosque echoes in my ear each time I attempt to describe an experience in Tirana. The loudspeakers can be heard as far as 5 km away. They are used to empower the muezzin's voice to transcend a modern city's noises and so dominate this recording. Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
The grotesque communist-era buildings are one of the main attractions in Tirana and inspire me to go looking for new intriguing sounds and exquisite reverberation textures. My first stop was the infamous old soviet pyramid. The pyramid is right in the middle of the city and personally was one of the buildings that attracted me the most, ​resembling an enormous UFO that’s broken down in the city centre. The pyramid was primarily built as a museum devoted to Enver Hohxa but after communism ended, it became forgotten. The soundscape highlights a soundwalk around the pyramid, mainly capturing the sounds of debris and different materials that reflect the state in which the pyramid was left or in its current vandalized state. Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
Driving in the centre of Tirana can be a frustrating experience. Heavy traffic jams can leave you stranded for hours. The Albanians also have a reputation for being quite eccentric drivers who like to throw the rule book out the window. In conditions like this and because the city is small, it often makes far more sense to walk. It is easy and quite safe to wander the city streets and this also allows you to be immersed in the unique soundscape of the city, seeing and hearing all that it has to offer. For some sights however you will need to get a bit further out of town and this is where a taxi ride can come in handy. Although my trip to Tirana took place right in the middle of the pandemic and the streets were far emptier than would usually be, which added a unique and special quality to the city’s atmosphere. I think this comes across when you listen to the sounds that have been captured. Like a unique fingerprint these sounds are unique to this city and tell it’s story to those who know how to listen. Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
The Balkan identity has an interesting history. The origin of the word Balkan is obscure; it may be related to Persian bālk 'mud', and the Turkish suffix a 'swampy forest' or Persian balā-khāna 'big high house'. Related words are also found in other Turkic languages. The term was brought to Europe with Ottoman Turkish influence, where Balkan means 'chain of wooded mountains' in Turkic languages. Once you arrive in Sarajevo and look around, you’ll see houses rising from the surrounding hills. The hilly landscapes enchant with Orange roofs contrast with blue sky and green hills, with a minaret announcing the call to prayer. These are Sarajevo’s oldest residential areas. People have long lived in small hillside neighbourhoods, only coming down to Bascarsija to trade. These neighbourhoods often have a mosque. This is so that residents didn’t have to go up and down five times each day for their prayers. Here I walk through steep roads and lose myself along old streets to record this glimpse of Sarajevo's daily life.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
Marsala Tita street is a great place to start your walking tour of the old city. The people of Sarajevo would undoubtedly agree that the city is like that one friend with whom you always have something to talk about. So, if you want to make friends with Sarajevo, here are a few  sights that you simply have to see and immerse yourself in and be guided by the intricate and mysterious sounds that emanate from such an old town.  The sounds of the passing recognisable city trams are one of them much and much more than just a means of transport. Some of the stops are meeting places and favourite gathering places for youth, like the stop at the Central Bank in the centre of town, known as “Čeka” (wait) to Sarajevans. Those who would like to have a glimpse of the trams and traffic noise can immerse in the soundscape recorded in a balcony on Marsala Tita street.  Recorded by Rafael Diogo as a city sound guide for Cities and Memory - see more at https://citiesandmemory.com/city-sound-guides 
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Comments (1)

Eugenia K.

Beautiful, so satisfying😍

Jan 27th
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