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HomeNewsMetal announces major new project: Different Trains 1947

Metal announces major new project: Different Trains 1947


Three nights of audio visual performances featuring Actress, Sandunes and Jack Barnett (These New Puritans) to be staged in Liverpool, London and Rajasthan in late 2017.

Watch a short documentary filmed by Boiler Room in Mumbai: here

2017 marks the 70th anniversary of Indian independence, and to commemorate this cultural and historical milestone, a number of innovative organisations and titans of the arts have come together to create a newly commissioned artistic work.

Artistic laboratory Metal – in partnership with Barbican Centre, Warp Records, and Boiler Room, plus Indian partners Wild City and What About Art? – presents Different Trains 1947, a brand new audio visual composition that will bring together the historical and contemporary cultures of the UK and India, taking inspiration from Steve Reich’s Different Trains.

Different Trains 1947 will be created in collaboration between filmmakers/artists Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard (directors of the celebrated Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth) and critically acclaimed musicians Jack Barnett (currently completing work on These New Puritans fourth album in Berlin) and Darren J. Cunningham (who last week under his Actress moniker released his new album AZD on Ninja Tune). Both are renowned for their levels of sonic experimentation and originality, and have spent the last decade pushing the boundaries of contemporary music. Between them, Cunningham and Barnett have innovatively manipulated sounds and genres ranging from electronic, ambient, post punk, R&B to contemporary classical. “It combines two things I’m fascinated by – Reich’s work of the 80s and 90s, and the British Empire and its history, but maybe more importantly it’s an opportunity to encounter unexpected things, to go through an open-ended process,” says Barnett on the project.

Joining these widely revered and pioneering UK artists will be Indian music producer Sanaya Ardeshir (aka Sandunes) whose hypnotic creations are lauded for incorporating unique Asian sounds with electronica, garage and expansive synth explorations. Warp’s Creative Director Stephen Christian has been enlisted as musical director for the project to work closely with the artists to develop the ambitious work. Together, these vast talents with their versatile backgrounds will create a truly unique audio visual experience in response to the events of 1947. “I love the idea of breathing new life into the Different Trains universe and am looking forward to building bridges between geographies and generations through the music that’s going to come from this,” reveals Ardeshir.

Different Trains 1947 will be premiered in Liverpool as an open air concert at Metal, Edge Hill railway station – the oldest active passenger railway station in the world – on 27th September 2017.

The piece will then be presented at Barbican Hall London (1st October 2017) and Magnetic Fields Festival, within the grounds of a 17th Century palace on the edge of the desert in Rajasthan in India (15th-17th December 2017), creating a truly epic international showcase for this new commission, with Boiler Room streaming one of the events as a live global broadcast. Boiler Room recently accompanied the artists to Mumbai where they met local musicians and capture field recordings. Streaming below, the short documentary captures their time there, from echo chambers, royal palaces to the hustle and bustle of the city and its railway networks.

Though the project will comprise entirely new work, as a primary source of inspiration the composers have been encouraged to consider the conceptual and formal framework of ‘Different Trains’ (1988) by the genre-defining minimalist composer Steve Reich.

Different Trains (1988) was recently performed by Reich at Edge Hill Station, again presented by Metal for whom this new commission serves to extend their body of world class work presented from the station.

Reich’s original piece incorporated speech samples from interviews taken in America and continental Europe, recounting memories of train journeys taken during WWII, simultaneously shaping the composition’s narrative and musical form.

In this new work, the collaborators will apply a similar compositional approach, though shifting the locations and timeframe, as a means of unfolding the narrative of life in 1947, during India’s transition to independence, distilled through people’s personal memories of train travel.

Through the contribution of Forsyth and Pollard the visuals for the performances will also incorporate the use of archival film content representing India and UK during this fascinating period in history.

Given the underlying themes of shifting borders and the movement of people, this work can also be considered as a lens through which we can view the contemporary social, cultural and political events of our time.  A perfect marriage of the old and new to reflect the ever-changing state of the human experience over the past 70 years. “These commissions serve our surrounding communities also as a means of increasing awareness of their own globally significant heritage as the birth place of all railway journeys” says Metal Liverpool Director Shaun Curtis

This is a flagship project that will span the globe, utilising historically rich sites in both India and the UK, as part of the 2017 UK/India Year of Culture.

Different Trains 1947 is a core project of Arts Council England‘s Reimagine India fund, with additional support from Film Hub North West Central and Digital Partner British Council.

Tickets for Liverpool Edge Hill (27th September) will go on sale on Thursday 20th April

Tickets for Barbican Centre (1st October) will go on sale on Friday 21st April.

Tickets from:

Different Trains 1947