Welcome to Tunnel Sounds - music inspired by the London Underground made using field recordings from all over the tube network.

I am an engineer on the London Underground as well as a music producer and DJ so I have been making use of my access to explore the Tube, seeking out sounds, unusual recording spaces and inspiration for music. You may recognise a lot of the sounds such as trains, announcements and ticket gates, but some are less familiar. Have a listen and enter the world of the well known and not so well known London Underground.

Various musicians, vocalists, photographers and film makers have also collaborated with me on the project with their own artistic repsonses to the Underground.

Thanks to Transport For London and all my colleagues at London Underground for their support and assistance in making this project happen.


Click the image below to get your copy of "A-Z of the Underground" which was made to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Underground this year and includes the name of every tube station.




Photo by Haridas Stewart

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Audio

Field recordings



A selection of sounds from the Underground:

  • Metropolitan line train doors

    Category: Trains and stations
    Location: Baker Street Station
    Date: March 2009
    Equipment: Zoom H2

  • Central Line train disappearing into tunnel

    Category: Trains and stations
    Location: Holborn Station
    Date: November 2009
    Equipment: Audio Technica boom mic & Tasam hard disk recorder

  • Victoria Line train approaching

    Category: Trains and stations
    Date: January 2009
    Equipment: Zoom H2

  • Escalator drive chain

    Category: Machinery
    Location: Moorgate Station, Escalator machine chamber
    Date: December 2008
    Equipment: Zoom H2
    Used in: Escalating

  • Rail shaping machine

    Category: Machinery
    Location: Track Manufacturing Workshop, Lillie Bridge
    Date: November 2008
    Equipment: Zoom H2

  • Relays in old lift controller

    Category: Machinery
    Location: Lift machine room, Earls Court Station
    Date: November 2008
    Equipment: Zoom H2
    Used in: After hours
    Description: This is an old style lift controller with hundreds of mechanical relays and contactors that appear to have a life of their own. Sadly this controller has been ripped out and replaced but there are still a few of these out there.


  • Night time station upgrade work

    Category: Maintenance
    Location: Oxford Circus Station
    Date: November 2008
    Equipment: Zoom H2
    Used in: After hours

  • Guest Musician : Ed West playing drums on disused platform

    Category: Guest Musicians
    Location: Charing Cross Station
    Date: November 2009
    Equipment: Zoom H2
    Description: This is one of the two Jubilee Line platforms that were closed to the public when the Jubilee Line was extended in 1999 and diverted away from Charing Cross. We took a drum kit down there for a recording session. Ed's band The Drop are well worth checking out and you can download a free track on their website www.thedropreggae.com


  • Guest Musician : Reeps One beatboxing in disused tunnel

    Category: Guest Musicians
    Location: Euston Station
    Date: February 2010
    Equipment: Audio Technica boom mic & Tascam hard disk recorder
    Description: Reeps is an unbelievable beatboxer who has won the UK Beatbox Championships twice in a row and regularly rocks massive crowds all over the world. This recording was made in a disused passenger tunnel connecting the two Northern Line platforms at Euston Station that was closed in the 1960's. You can hear the background hum of the PA system and the sound of a train passing underneath resonating through the tunnel. If you want more Reeps go to his Youtube page



  • Guest Musician : Reeps One vocal sounds in service tunnel

    Category: Guest Musicians
    Location: Charing Cross Station
    Date: February 2010
    Equipment: Audio Technica boom mic & Tascam hard disk recorder






Impulse responses


These are recordings of a short impulse of sound in various locations on the Underground - in most cases this is a balloon popping. You can recreate the reverb effects of these places by downloading the audio and loading it into your own convolution reverb plugin. More info about convolution reverb here

There are many different plug-ins available. This one seems to work well and it's free Lernvall Audio LAConvolver/ If you can recommend any alternatives drop me a message and I'll add links.

Charing Cross Platform 3 disused

Charing Cross Platform 4 disused

Charing Cross bottom of ventilation shaft

Service tunnel under Trafalgar Square

Holborn Platform 5 disused



Music production



Keep moving
A track inspired by the experience of travelling through London during rush hour. It includes the sounds of commuters, public announcements and station staff and features Gemma Rose and Sarah Telman (Creecha) on violin.


After hours
This is made entirely from field recordings on the Underground including the sounds of relays in a lift controller and night time station upgrade work. You can download this track for free HERE


Ruislip Rhythms
This includes field recordings at Ruislip train depot such as train doors and compressors and general maintenance activities.





Pictures

(Click thumbnails to enlarge)

Live performances

Braindrop Summer 2009 at Hidden, with Gemma Rose and Sarah Telman on violin, Adverse on vocals.



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Live audio-visual performance at What the Butler Saw, part of the Whitley Arts Festival, October 2010




Recording sessions

Exploring behind the scenes at Charing Cross station



Forthcoming Gigs

Watch this spce for gigs


News

Underground Creatives

Added on November 4th, 2013

Over 20 artists working for London Underground will be exhibiting their work in a pop up gallery in some disused office space at Leytonstone Station. The exhibition includes paintings, photography and music and showcases the various creative outlets of London Underground staff, with some really impressive work. It runs from 7th to 9th November with an opening night on the 6th where poetry readings will be accompanied by light refreshments and a chance to meet the artists. I will have some of the Tunnel Sounds music played there including some brand new unreleased material that you won't have heard before.

Tunnel Sounds to be played at the London Transport Museum

Added on September 18th, 2013

This Friday A-Z of the Underground is going to be played on a 1938 tube train at the London Transport Museum. This is at their special FRIDAY LATE event - click below for more details.

Friday Late 20th September

A-Z of the Underground

Added on July 2nd, 2013

As this year is the 150th anniversary of the London Underground I wanted to make some music that would mark the occasion. The result is a collaboration with some very good musicians Jaggi, Kate Mullins and AFS which includes the names of every station on the Underground. You can download the track HERE and click below for the full audio-visual experience...

Mini documentary about Tunnel Sounds

Added on April 23rd, 2013

I was recently contacted by Hannah Poulter who was interested in making a short documentary film all about the links I make between the London Underground and music. We went exploring in the deepest depths of the Tube and here is the finished film.

The reverb below from Hannah Poulter on Vimeo.

Tunnel Sounds apologises for the delay to your journey

Added on March 13th, 2013

Due to other commitments I have not been able to work on this project for a while, but I am happy to say that I am now back out and about with my recording equipment and spending time in the studio again! This is perfect timing with 2013 being the 150th anniversary of the first underground train journey so I'm excited to be part of this year of celebrations and creativity inspired by the engineering marvel that is the Tube. Expect some amazing new guest musicians too...

BEAM Festival

Added on June 21st, 2012

I will be having some of my work shown at the BEAM Festival this weekend at Brunel University. There is a whole host of performances, workshops and installations to experience and if you are interested in looking at new and exciting ways to create and interact with sound and music it is well worth a look. Check out the website for more details.

Video for After Hours

Added on June 10th, 2012

I've added a video to YouTube for my track After Hours which shows some of the locations I've discovered on my underground travels.

 

Metro EP

Added on November 21st, 2011

My track Keep Moving is going to be included on a compilation of music inspired by underground systems around the world - thanks to Adham Fisher for involving me with this, more info here www.twitter.com/1000stations

Exploring abandoned tunnels

Added on August 22nd, 2011

I've uploaded a video of the abandoned service tunnel beneath Trafalgar Square which I have made use of a few times for this project. The video shows a tour with station supervisor John Poole. The recordings including John's commentary have been used in the forthcoming track Secret Tunnels. The track will be released on free download soon so if you haven't already signed up to the mailing list add your name above to be sent a link to the track as soon as it's posted online.

Soundcloud update

Added on July 20th, 2011

I've added a few new and re-edited tracks to the Soundcloud page including the Reeps track. www.soundcloud.com/ben-phaze. There are more to come so click follow if you want to stay informed of the latest Tunnel goodness.

Reeps One recording session

Added on May 8th, 2011

A lot of people have been asking when my track with Reeps One will be put online. It won't be long now but in the meantime I've uploaded a short snippet from the recording session for you to listen to (in the player in the top right). It was recorded in an abandoned service tunnel at Charing Cross, where the recordings for the track "Secret Tunnels" also came from. As you can hear the reverb in the tunnel is something else so it was such an experience to get Reeps down there. Hold tight for the track coming to you soon and for more from the 2 time UK beatbox champ check out his Youtube page

Out of Uniform

Added on April 2nd, 2011

To update on a bit of news that I didn't get round to adding to the site I was given the opportunity to join a group of artists called Out Of Uniform, all of which work for London Underground and have various creative outlets that we let loose when we are not at work. The group is the brainchild of David Nevin, a station supervisor and painter, who organised the first exhibition at the 198 gallery in Brixton last September. It was such a hit that the group have been invited back later this year. There's more info on the group on the website - Out of Uniform.

And here's a video of the last exhibition. The soundtrack is one of my tracks, Light, with Plum on vocals.

 

London Transport Museum 4th December

Added on November 18th, 2009

What better venue to showcase the Tunnelsounds live show than the London Transport Museum - and I'm determined to make this the best show yet. It will be a live audiovisual performance with fresh new recordings and video footage from the Underground including some from disused tunnels and abandoned stations. I will have full violin accompaniment as well as some other added surprises and there are lots of other activities including quizzes and workshops. Entry is £7 or £5 each for groups of 4 or more and it's an early one so a perfect warm-up if you're heading elsewhere. You can pre-book your tickets HERE.

 

Underground antics at Charing Cross

Added on November 11th, 2009

A group of 10 of us visited some of the disused areas of Charing Cross Station and spent 12 hours recording, filming and photographing live violins, a full drumkit and vocals from Plum on disused platforms and in a hidden service tunnel underneath Trafalgar Square. Audio and video coming soon!

Photos by Emily Swaine

 

Supporting The Rogue Element at the Amersham Arms

Added on November 8th, 2009

I am really looking forward to playing at this event on 28th November alongside a favourite of mine, The Rogue Element. I'll be following on from his set and have been given the task of the transition to dirty dubstep - expect a bass fuelled selection for this one. Check out the Facebook page for more info.

 

Techno made from bearings

Added on October 4th, 2009

Most people think the sound of worn bearings is unpleasant... well it is... but with a bit of tweaking it can turn into techno! As with most of my tracks I used Ableton Live - the kick drums were made by lowering the pitch of one of the bearings and putting it through a volume envelope, EQ and compressor. I used loads of filters to bring out certain frequency ranges and automated some of these with LFOs.

 

Recycled Creativity

Added on September 16th, 2009

Thanks to Niti and the Berlin Loesje group for having me at the Recycled Creativity Festival and putting on such a brilliant event. I got to make crazy musical instruments out of broken computers and other junk and use them to make live drum & bass! Loesje are always busy doing amazing things to empower people to use their creativity in a positive way - for more info check out the Loesje Website.

Recycled Creativity in Berlin, Saturday 18th September

Added on September 16th, 2009

 

Plum at the Cobden Club, Thursday 10th September

Added on September 6th, 2009

This Thursday the wonderful Plum will be jetting down from Edinburgh for a gig with accompaniment from me on the keys and Richard Marcangelo (who has toured with Steve Coogan!) playing live drums.

The venue is at 170 Kensal Road, W10 (nearest tube Westbourne Park). Entry is £5 and all names need to be on the door beforehand so please email info@beatfeast.com if you're coming. The night runs from 7.30 - 11pm.

Hope to see you there!


Radioactive Man at the Oakford, Reading on 5th September


Added on August 20th, 2009

I'm really excited to be playing alongside Radioactive Man aka Keith Tenniswood, one half of Two Lone Swordsmen who will be performing a live hardware set with brand new material from his forthcoming album. This is part of Reading's Outside:Inside Festival - a whole month of events at venues and stages all round Reading. For more info on the festival head to the Facebook page

 

Above & Below footwear now supporting the Tunnels Project

Added on July 28th, 2009

These are completely unique limited edition trainers made from recycled seat covers from London Underground tube carriages. The people behind the idea are Above & Below, who are ethically and environmentally conscious and even plant a tree for every pair sold! Like me they take elements from the tube and put them in a new context to present as something fresh - so it is quite appropriate that we should link up. Watch this space for developments but in the meantime check out their website www.aboveandbelowlondon.com to find out more about this innovative product.

Tunnels live at Braindrop, 7th August at Hidden, Vauxhall

Added on July 26th, 2009

The mighty Braindrop returns bigger and badder than ever before. I will be recreating some of the Tunnels tracks with live violin accompaniment and making some brand new beats live on the night using a few of my underground noises.

More info at www.braindrop.co.uk

Tunnels at Glastonbury

Added on June 24th, 2009

I'm going to be playing some swinging sounds for the the Hot Vintage cabaret of fire in the Croissant Neuf field followed by some live Tunnels tracks and DJ sets. This will be happening from 2am every night so come and find us there!

 

Plum's debut album to be released on Benbecula Records on 19th October

Added on May 25, 2009

Plum and I have been collaborating on each other's music for some time now and you may have heard her in some of the Tunnels tunes or performing as part of the live set. Four of our collaborations are featured on her debut album including the first track we made together which all started when we had an idea of making a beat out of the sound of ice in lemonade. Now she is the first female artist to be signed to Benbecula Records - well done Plum!

plum different skin

More info on the Benbecula website
Plum on Myspace




Press

BBC News


Sounds of the London Underground



Mixmag

Thanks to Mr No Hands for this mention in Mixmag


The Tottenham & Wood Green Advertiser


Ben's got tunnel vision for sounds of Underground

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

By Will Stone



A TUBE engineer from Haringey has compiled an album of sounds from the Underground.
Ben Langham, 28, of Turnpike Lane, works as an escalators and lifts engineer for London Underground and has produced music under the moniker of Ben Phaze for ten years.

During his spare time he decided to make recordings of moving escalators, machinery and the sounds of travellers on the Underground.

Ben will use his field recordings as samples and mix them in with keyboard arrangements, scratching from his turntables and other beats to create a unique album dubbed Tunnel Sounds.

“While I was recording these sounds in my spare time no one could guess what this was for,” he said. “Some thought I was doing an environmental survey. So there was surprise when I revealed that this was for an album. At first people thought it was a little odd but it is mainly about raising people’s awareness about the kinds of sounds they normally take for granted.”

Ben’s idea came about after he set up a website inviting users to upload sounds that he would then mix into a track using his turntables.

He said: “This project made me realise how much musical value there can be in the most unusual sounds. It wasn’t long before I was making the most of the wealth of noises on the Underground, particularly after closing time.”
Ben performs as a DJ in various London clubs both on his own and as part of a breakbeat combo Beat Feast Collective.

His work has already been aired on radio in Scotland and he hopes to record a show for London’s art radio station Resonance FM.

To listen to a sample of his music visit www.tunnelsounds.com


365Mag International Music Magazine



BEN PHAZE: UNDERGROUND IN SEARCH OF SOUND

Friday, 10 April 2009

(London, UK) - These days, every third person you meet thinks they're a DJ or producer, so making yourself stand out from the (often deluded) masses can be tough. But if you're smart, you'll do something no one else is doing, something that makes you unique...

And that's just what Ben Phaze has done, using his day job as an engineer for London Transport to harvest sounds he can use for his Tunnel Sounds project.

The Tunnels tracks have gained the approval of Radio 1's breaks luminary Annie Nightingale, and have even gotten Ben some unforeseen exposure on BBC news, as well as in the London papers. But he's no flash in the pan, he's been plugging away as a DJ for more than a decade. In that time he's started his own club night, Beat Feast, while a student at Reading University, and eventually bought his own varied take on turntablism to London, where he spins regularly at underground bass-fests like Braindrop and Them.

As Ben told the BBC about the music he's created, 'It's very dark, it's very haunting… I think the feeling of being down there on your own comes out in the music, because it's quite eerie down there when one's around.' And while we see a clear parallel between Ben's struggle to distinguish himself amongst the over-saturated depths of MySpace music 'wonders' and his day job fixing the darkest reaches of the railways, 365mag.com reckons that the talented Mr Phaze won't be struggling in the dark for very much longer.

Check out the links below for more info on his planned Tunnel Sounds album and his upcoming DJ gigs.



Biography

Ben Langham aka Ben Phaze

A mechanical engineer as well as a DJ and music producer, Ben Phaze combines his penchant for technology and experimentation with a playful and imaginative view of his surroundings. The result is an innovative blend of electronic music, weaving together precisely edited field recordings, synth textures and real instruments punctuated with carefully crafted beats, drawing the listener into a unique sonic world.

Ben's production often brings something unexpected, and his experimental outlook has allowed him to develop his own style, influenced by turntablism and hip hop production and various forms of electronic music. Previous releases include collaborations with Scottish songwriter and producer Plum on Benbecula Records, and a winning remix competition entry featured on Bass Gun Records compilation All Guns Blazing.

First introduced to DJing by a friend at school in 1997 Ben was intrigued by the way turntables could be used to manipulate existing music to create something entirely new. A rapper in the year above soon caught wind of Ben's interest and gave him an education in hip hop and turntablism, opening his eyes, and ears, to the possibilities. What began as a joint record shopping trip for instrumental beats became a close friendship and a catalyst for what was to come.

Moving to Reading in 2001 Ben started looking for opportunities to DJ. In 2002 he won the Reading heat of the Vestax student DJ competition and he and the runners up persuaded the Student's Union to let them run a night - Beat Feast. Over the next 7 years, Beat Feast became Reading's longest running hip hop night, residing at various venues and evolving into an eclectic event of many musical styles, experimental VJing and art displays. With a policy of encouraging unknown DJs and performers to give others the chance Ben had struggled for, a crew was soon established - The Beat Feast Collective. The collective played a large part in creating an alternative music scene in resistance to the increase in commercially driven promoters, working closely with venues to offer a healthy alternative to the typical night out in Reading. The events also provided a platform for new artists some of whom are now at the top of their game e.g. the majority of reggae band The Drop, whose previous incarnation formed as the Beat Feast resident band Works in Progress, Captain Bukioe (now a member of Brighton hip hop crew Rum Committee and in-demand illustrator) and Bass6 (human beatbox extraordinaire and a positive force in the beatboxing world)

Having earned a reputation as a DJ who can reliably get a crowd moving, with a hugely varied record collection from funk, soul and hip hop through to bass-driven dancefloor styles, Ben has been booked to support many high profile acts such as DJ Format, Beardyman and LTJ Bukem, and his DJing has taken him throughout Europe and Australia.

In his most recent project, Tunnel Sounds, he uses sounds recorded on his explorations of the hidden tunnels, disused stations and forgotten passageways below London. He has involved other artists on the project including Reeps One (2x UK Beatbox champion) and Kate Mullins (Puppini Sisters), and the concept has received significant media interest including BBC World News and CBS News.

 



Plan your Journey


Journey Planner


Shop


All clothing is high quality and hard wearing with double layered print. These are from the same supplier as the old Beat Feast t-shirts and hoodies which are still looking great after 8 years.

Tunnel Sounds Hoody (Black with white print) 25
Gildan Heavyweight, 80% Cotton, 20% Polyester fleece 325 g/m
Size

Tunnel Sounds Hoody (Grey with black print) 25
Gildan Heavyweight, 80% Cotton, 20% Polyester fleece 325 g/m
Size

Tunnel Sounds Mens T-Shirt (Black with white print) 14
Hanes Beefy Ultra-Soft Cotton 215 g/m
Size

Tunnel Sounds Ladies T-Shirt (Black with white print) 12
Gildan ladies fitted soft style 100% Ringspun Cotton 150-155 g/m
Size


Postage and packaging is 2 per item for delivery in the UK.



Links

Tunnel Sounds collaborators:


Kate Mullins - http://www.thepuppinisisters.com/
Jaggi - soundcloud.com/jaggi
AFS (Adham Fisher) - soundcloud/dobara/sets/afs-mothers-day-ep-release
Adverse - www.myspace.com/asylumabstract
Reeps One - www.youtube.com/user/Reepsone
Plum - www.plumtunes.com
Ed West (The Drop) - www.thedropreggae.com
Gemma Rose & Sarah Telman (Creecha) - soundcloud.com/creecha

Friends of Tunnel Sounds:


Beat Feast Collective - www.beatfeast.com
London Transport Museum - www.ltmuseum.co.uk

TheShedQuarters Mastering - www.theshedquarters.co.uk
Null & Void blog - www.null-void.co.uk
Braindamage Radio - www.braindamageradio.com
Captain Bukioe - captainbukioe.blogspot.com
Zimena Percival - www.zimster.co.uk
Annie Mole - london-underground.blogspot.com
Haridas Stewart - www.haridasstewart.com

Click below to get your unique trainers made from recycled tube train seat covers!


Field recording related:


Sound and Music - soundandmusic.org/



Contact



For bookings, info, collaborations or to say hi you can contact me at phaze@beatfeast.com
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