Subway came about towards the end of the album’s completion, in its mixing stage with Mark Chadwick. At this Point I had almost removed the idea of having individual field recordings in the album as I had used almost all of them as samples within the tracks themselves.
The album and track order had been discussed quite a bit at this point as I wanted to try and reflect music chronologically with the dates of the recordings. However after some reflection this didn’t really work for many of the tracks which featured multiple recordings from different times. Nor did this mathematical approach create a flow between the songs that worked.
I have always been a huge fan of albums that merge the tracks together (And The Glass Handed Kites by Mew being a favorite of mine) and I wanted to incorporate that technique into my album. We finally decided on a track listing by working out which tracks really worked well together and then organizing those chunks of tracks into an order that flowed between more intense and relaxed energies. This did leave us with 3 problems in the record where the collections of tracks connected or in this case didn’t.
To get around this Mark suggested we use some of the field recordings I had made going back to our original discussion about the album when I asked him to help me with the mix. I went back through the tracks I hadn’t used and highlighted only a handful of the ones I liked “Subway” was one of the stand out recordings.
I recorded this track on a Subway underpass in Osaka as we were walking through it. It was quite a shambolic recording as we were rushing to see the Umeda Sky Building before it closed and as we entered the subway I could hear a busker playing a steel drum in the distance. I took out my recorder and just recorded us walking up to and then past the busker thinking it would be great to use in a track. Unfortunately the majority of the recording has too much foot fall in it to be usable and a pushbikes ratcheting sound overpowered about half the recording. Multiple attempts to use it as an element in a piece of music never quite worked.
However cutting out this 25 second segment and treating it with RX caused an interesting addition as RX’s processing of the reverb from the tiled underpass on the steel drum created an almost vocal/choir like sound. I thought this would work really well between the tracks “Airport Pianos” and “Yamanote Line” as they both feature choir samples and “Yamanote Line” is built around the recordings of trains in japan.