Somewhere perched high above the River Thames in London, a firm called Living Architecture has placed a small boat. Well, it’s actually a one-room hotel that’s available for rent by those lucky enough to get a spot and be able to afford it.
Shaped like a small boat—a kind of lookout bobbing above the city, with 360-degree views of the bustle below — the space is called “A Room for London,” and to help promote it, developers invited David Byrne to stay there for three days last month. Byrne spent his time observing and recording London and as a result made a musical art project packaged into a video, which you can see below.
Byrne has a special gift for observing the rhythm of cities—a theme he explored in his book “Bicycle Diaries”—and he made a discovery while he recording the sounds of London: the city beats at exactly 122.86 beats per minute.
I brought along some field recording gear to use while I was staying in the lovely pod/room/boat. I went out during the day and recorded sounds that I thought might be useful and evocative. It turned out that most of the sounds—even the church organ in Southwark Cathedral—seemed to converge around a common rhythm. It’s a bit too good to be true—that every large city should have its own rhythm, but here it is. I let the sounds dictate the groove, the tempo, and then I simply played along.
David Byrne: still totally the man. Take a look at “Get It Away,” his recording from London, below.