Ghosts on the London Underground aren’t a recent occurrence. Images and tales (from respectable sources, no less) run throughout The Tube’s 150 year history like phantom trains rattling down the spectral line. These apparitions have haunted the polaroids as well as the point systems, with the neon-lit stations becoming an underground port of call for the deceased. The London Underground is, I’m sure, a frightening place after the shutters go down and the last train leaves the station. Cell phones lose signal and then go down, and there is no escaping the advertisements that cling to the station walls deep under the ground. Prepare for a dark ride.
The cramped, sweat drenched conditions that make up the rush hour commute put a lot of people in a state of panic and unease, but the dark, electronic melodies that surge through the Ghost Station tell of something else deserving of your fear. The carriage, cocooned in a century-old tunnel deep under the earth, can cause claustrophobia; the black tunnels lead forever on, and the stations become a disorientating cavern lit by static escalators and painted arrows. You could lose yourself and spend days in there, trapped, as if it were the last, fateful episode of Grave Encounters. Ghost Station is a silent platform, deserted save for the swoosh of the last train. Its presence is a spectre, riding on rhythmic wheels that spin to the sound of the beat.
On this train, there is no female announcer calling out the next station, because there is only one stop – the Ghost Station. For all the Londoners out there, Ghost Station clings to the Central Line. Pete Warren worked on these tracks during his time on the tracks, when he was commuting between Mile End and White City. Because of this, the music is a perpetual, black tunnel, carved into the black soil of the ground. The Central Line is a popular line, but the soul of Ghost Station takes a detour, walking through disused tunnels with a dim lamp for company. It’s a route that not many people know about, places that are now abandoned. The dead currents carry a failing wave of blue synth. The tube ‘vibe’ is present throughout, sticking tight to the music as if it were a train wracking the rails.
“Ventilator +” is a relief, providing some cleaner air by way of a brighter melody and a smoother, slinky beat. It could be the Paris metro, so smooth is the sound. Compare it with the punishing beat of the Northern Line, which frequently exceeds the decibel levels of a pneumatic drill, and a beautiful contrast is there to see. Through the chaos, the neon labyrinth is something to admire; Ghost Station is itself an engineering feat. The synths are charged, loose with the scorching smell of burning electricity and the dirt of the ages. Underground rhythms ricochet along the tracks, the mechanical chunka chunka blocking out any attempt at conversation. For all its delays and signal failures, we love the London Underground. Ghost Station is as affectionate as it is afraid of the dark.
The early, retro synthesizers couple together cables that carry a deep, electrical current; the sound seems to predate the tube. It is masterfully linked together, without a sizable gap between the train and the platform. On “Tunnels”, you can hear the eerie whoosh of the rushing air as the train grinds its way through; a spectre with ill-lit, intermittent melodies on board. “Exit” speeds out of the tunnel like a bullet leaving the gun, heading for the white lights and the suburban sprawl. It’s the sound of the underground; don’t miss that last train. (James Catchpole)