Sleeper Train
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In 2017, audio producer Phil Smith travelled to Ukraine to attend his friend's wedding. There, somewhere between the cities of Ivano-Frankivsk, Lviv and Odessa, he fell in love with the soundworld of the sleeper train: its steady hypnotic rhythms, the melody of hurtling through time and space, the calls of distant tannoy speakers drifting across platforms in the dead of night, the chorus of snores from sleeping passengers. Revisiting these recordings, seven years later, this Slow Radio journey offers echoes of a country in calmer times, when such trains were not a means of logistics transportation or symbol of desperate escape (as witnessed in the February of 2022) but conduits of restful imagining. From the opening establishing shot - the sound of whistles and shunting engines, off in the distance - we are moved along in a river of wheeled luggage through the cathedral acoustics of a station building to take our seat in the carriage of the overnight train. The scenes are unhurried as bunks are unfolded and brief snatches of conversation overheard. We set off - a gentle accelerando of wheels and rails - and time stretches: there are no voices now, just the music of the train's motion through the night. Produced by Phil Smith A Reduced Listening production for BBC Radio 3
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