Birdsong slowly fades as a lone church bell tolls from the city ahead. I continue to walk until I finally come across houses on a residential street. Arriving in the city, a sense of friendliness and warmth descends. The suburbs feel familiar, and despite never having been here before, and the mood is light. Even the sun warms up for a few minutes. However, it soon becomes evident that the suburbs are a little less open and warm than they initially seemed; not only are they quiet and lonely, but the only people in sight don't look entirely friendly. I take a wrong turn into a council estate filled with dark alleyways, and spend some time walking quickly away from the faces in windows and towards the more populated city centre.
A large, unused building stands by the road, with a number of unusual sculptures on the walls. I peek inside and finds the place deserted. I am reminded of some of the more desolate places I have visited recently, and begin to wonder if this city is really where I want to head. Soon I reach a dead end, and climb a fence into a rather barren looking work area, fenced off from the rest of the city. The open space is eerily large, and once again shares its atmosphere with the sinister landscapes I am trying to escape. I walk across the open space, stumbling over some loosely stack bricks, and make it to the other side. I climb over the fence and up a muddy hill, which leads to a large drop, below which is a much older housing estate than the one I passed previously, close to the city centre. The view is quite beautiful, but eerie at the same time. Once again, there is very little actual life, just a still scene, with everybody indoors, or slaving away at work. As I turn away, the sun begins to set behind the other side of the valley I have been looking over.
I continue along the industrial edge of town, and eventually come to a large road. On it is a broken down van, and passing it are a number of large, grimy lorries and unusual industrial vehicles. They shift back and forth, seemingly working in an automated program. I cannot see the faces of the drivers in the vehicles. Following the main road, I find an area of utter desolation, with buildings torn apart, windows and doors bricked up, even a go-kart track left to rot. The mood becomes quite sombre, with the sight of laziness and uncaring in all directions. Past this waste ground I spy the first signs of the city centre, and my mood is lifted a little. However, the main road is blocked due to an accident, and I have to take a diversion through an area surrounded by large, rectangular warehouses. Every sound I make echoes around. Soon it is impossible to see anything but these buildings or hear anything but the clanging machines inside of them.
Walking out of the industrial estate for the final time, some peace and human warmth is sought in the street leading to the city centre, yet the busy, car-filled road keeps me firmly on the pavement which is itself entirely empty. I keep to this road and finally find the main road reaching a roundabout. As I take a right turn, the sky has turned the deep blue of dusk, and my way is lit by street lights and car headlamps. Unfortunately, the city centre itself has darker parts, as I find myself approaching the archways beneath the railway bridges that surround the heart of the metropolis. The darkness, angles and out-of-sight movements add to an increasing paranoia and feeling of loneliness. As a car passes along the nearby main road, shadows flicker, adding to the confusion.
Eventually, I stumble into the city centre, passing angry faces and shifty looking people. In a desperate attempt to find a friendly face, I walk through the first open door I happen upon, and enter a night club. Inside, the pulsating music and faceless forms dancing make me feel dizzy, and combining with physical and mental exhaustion, as the music blurs into noise I begin to panic, and dash out of the exit onto the street. The rain has started up once more. I stagger away down a side street to a patch of land - either a park or a square, it is too dark to tell - and sit on the floor in the rain. As I look up, clouds passing over the roofs of the inner city buildings seem strangely beautiful. Hearing drunken people nearby, I get up and walk off, trying to escape the noise of the city. The journey from the centre is long, as I stumble along busy roads, pass tall office blocks, and reach the ringroad standing above the rest of the city. I find myself increasingly fatigued, and eventually, being able to walk no more, find a spot to lie out of sight of the road, and pass out.
released May 14, 2007
Written, produced, sampled and performed by R Baker. Additional production on Archway by J-Fox. Environments by The Opponent Process.
Photography by R Baker.
Originally released on Jerky Oats. 2017 reissue featuring 12 bonus tracks released 02/01/17.