I was contacted about this album a couple of days ago and have been listening to it on SoundCloud. Then I took a look at the photos and thought, I’m sure I’ve seen this guy on the train! I find it interesting as the music isn’t only made using at least one ‘mobile’ tool, but also it was made in a mobile environment.
Anyway, here’s some more information about the release:
‘Frequent Traveller’ – a longplayer made in truly unique circumstances and the first of its kind. A concept album in its purest form, this cinematic trip was written and recorded on the train journey from Victoria to East Grinstead and back over the course of a year.
Armed with a laptop, iPad, small keyboard and a good pair of headphones, Steve Spiro AKA Frequent Traveller transformed the train into his recording studio, fusing soundtrack-esque electronica with traditional organic instruments, poetry and sound design.
The pre-commute ‘Victoria’ begins with a sombre soundscape before the pace and intensity picks up as the journey does. The rhythmic drive of the train is reflected in the pace of the pieces, which from ‘Clapham Junction’ to ‘Sanderstead’ pound aggressively in a variety of electronic styles, before settling into a detailed and pristine set of tracks that paint vivid pictures of the atmosphere within the train and the visual worlds whizzing by outside, from ‘Riddlestown’ to ‘East Grinstead’. The intensity of the day resolves itself over the duration of the journey both physically and sonically, calming into lush sounds as the city is left behind.
The emotional sentiment of the album is that which every commuter faces at the end of each day – knackered and having to face the arduous journey of their homebound commute, desperate to reach their comfort-zone.
“My inspiration for the music was the changing landscape I was travelling through, from the industrial decay of south London to the stunning countryside of west Sussex”, says Spiro. “Over one year I wrote twelve tracks, one for each stop on the line, evolving from harder industrial electronica, to blissful ambience as the album progressed and the journey neared its end. I created transitions between tracks/stops, using the carriage ambience and announcements from my journey and added poetry related to my experiences, plus the characters I encountered along the way.”
The nature of the album’s making came about as the two hour daily commute to and from work was the only spare opportunity Steve had. The rest of his time is spent with his family, or at his day job as co founder and Creative Director of Felt Music – a successful music sync/publishing company and recording studio in Soho.
Part of what Steve does at Felt is organise tailor-made composition and sound design, so it came naturally to him to make an album on his train journey to accompany it (which could easily soundtrack any other number of moving images too, for that mater). Frequent Traveller is also composed to fit in real-time with the 18.23 journey from Victoria, so any intrepid writers who want to road test this audio companion are welcome to do so!
Steve started his musical career as a record producer and remixer, working with artists including Pet Shop Boys, Talk Talk, The Farm and Imagination. Spiro then went on to work with Paul McCartney’s keyboard player/MD Wix and together they created the BBC theme tune for the Atlanta Olympics in ’96, which was picked up by EMI & and went on to be a UK hit. They also scored the music for the clay-motion feature Hamilton Mattress, produced by the makers of Wallace and Grommet.
Spiro also wrote music for many high-profile TV adverts and programs including Sex and the City and Six Feet Under.