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Chris Watson El Tren Fantasma (2011)

                           Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma
Location: Sheffield, England, UK
Album release: November 14, 2011
Record Label: Touch
Website: http://www.chriswatson.net/
01 – La Anunciante
02 – Los Mochis
03 – Sierra Tarahumara
04 – El Divisadero
05 – Crucero La Joya
06 – Chihuahua
07 – Aguascalientes
08 – Mexico D.F.
09 – El Tajin
10 – Veracruz
Rolling Stock: El Tren Fantasma Step on board the ghost train and take a trip across Mexico from coast to coast  Los Mochis to Veracruz.
Rattle through a sonic landscape cross country Pacific to Atlantic on an acoustic journey through the heart of Mexico on board the most exciting, beautiful, and dynamic engineering project this country has ever seen.
A gentle breeze sighing through the pine forests along the track around the Copper Canyon, the deep menacing rumbles of engines 1008 and 8402 in infrasonic unison pulling eight carriages uphill past the silver mines of Zacatecas.  ‘El Tren Fantasma’is a time compressed tone poem celebrating the atmospheres and rhythms along the track, through deserts, mountains and cities on the last great passenger service the State railway system operated in the Spring of 1998.
Chris Watson's new album, El Tren Fantasma, is due for release in the UK on 14th November 2011. A two track EP (vinyl) will be available shortly after... Here is more information:
Chris Watson - El Tren Fantasma
File:Chris Watson.jpg

[Touch # TO:42]
CD - 10 tracks - 65 minutes
Artwork: Jon Wozencroft
Mastered by Denis Blackham
"Take the ghost train from Los Mochis to Veracruz and travel cross country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic. Ride the rhythm of the rails on board the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM) and the music of a journey that has now passed into history."
El Tren Fantasma, (The Ghost Train), is Chris Watson's 4th solo album for Touch, and his first since Weather Report in 2003, which was named as one of the albums you should hear before you die in The Guardian. A Radio programme was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on Saturday 30 Oct, 2010, produced by Sarah Blunt, and described as "a thrilling acoustic journey across the heart of Mexico from Pacific to Atlantic coast using archive recordings to recreate a rail passenger service which no longer exists. It’s now more than a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across country. Chris Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel this route. As sound recordist he was part of the film crew working on a programme in the BBC TV series Great Railways Journeys. Now, in this album, the journey of the ‘ghost train’ is recreated, evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life, wildlife and the journey itself along the tracks of one of Mexico’s greatest engineering projects.
The radio broadcast received national press coverage in the UK:
The Observer:
It is over a decade since FNM operated its last continuous passenger service across the country but here sound recordist Chris Watson recreates its atmospheric journey with the help of the train recordings he made while working on the BBC television series Great Railway Journeys... through desert and city, but it is the rocking rhythms of the train itself that prove most memorable. [Stephanie Billen]
The Financial Times:
El Tren Fantasma (8pm) is Archive on 4's recollection of a trans-Mexico rail journey by sound recordist Chris Watson. From desert to rainforest, hummingbirds' wings to the boom of heat rising from the Copper Canyon, it recalls a beloved passenger train system abandoned by privatisation. **** [Martin Hoyle]
The Daily Telegraph:
Sometimes, radio can awaken the mind and sharpen the senses like no other medium. This "sound portrait" of a now-abandoned railway line that used to run between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Mexico is a good case in point. Captured by sound recordist Chris Watson more than a decade ago, it jostles with human, animal and mechanical life, filling the room with an atmosphere that is more richly evocative of Central America than any TV travel show I've seen. Diesel engines thrum, cicadas chirrup and passengers chatter, sing and argue. [Pete Naughton]

Chris Watson


About the author...
Chris Watson is one of the world's leading recorders of wildlife and natural phenomena, and for Touch he edits his field recordings into a filmic narrative. For example. the unearthly groaning of ice in an Icelandic glacier is a classic example of, in Watson's words, putting a microphone where you can't put your ears. He was born in Sheffield where he attended Rowlinson School and Stannington College (now part of Sheffield College). In 1971 he was a founding member of the influential Sheffield-based experimental music group Cabaret Voltaire. His sound recording career began in 1981 when he joined Tyne Tees Television. Since then he has developed a particular and passionate interest in recording the wildlife sounds of animals, habitats and atmospheres from around the world. As a freelance recordist for film, tv & radio, Chris Watson specialises in natural history and documentary location sound together with track assembly and sound design in post production. His other releases on Touch (all still available).

- TO:47 Weather Report (2003) | TO:37 Outside the Circle of Fire (1998) | TO:27 Stepping into the Dark (1996)
Tone 43 Cross-Pollination [with Marcus Davidson] (2011) | Tone 27 Storm [with BJNilsen] (2005)
- TS02 Oceanus Pacificus (2007) and TO:42V The Signal Man due later this year
Weather Report named in The Guardian's 1000 Albums to Hear Before You Die List | 22.11.07
Soundcloud: http://soundcloud.com/experimedia/chris-watson-el-tren-fantasma
A stunning tapestry of field recordings from the master, Chris Watson, with his fourth album appearance on Touch, and his first since 2003's acclaimed Weather Report. Originally aired in a BBC Radio 4 broadcast last year, the sounds that constitute El Tren Fantasma (The Ghost Train) replicate the cross-country, coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic FNM train route from Los Mochis to Veracruz. This line, a high watermark of Mexican engineering, no longer exists as a passenger route, but Watson beautifully recreates and evokes it using archive recordings. Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel the route, when he was working as a sound recordist on the BBC TV series Great Railway Journeys. Watson fans will know what to expect: an aural adventure of great beauty, poignancy, humour and vivacity.

Ride the Ghost Train from Los Mochis to Veracruz, and travel across country, coast to coast, from the Pacific to Atlantic, on an acoustic journey through the heart of Mexico on board one of the most exciting, beautiful and dynamic engineering projects the country has ever known, but which has now passed into history.
It's more than a decade since the Mexican State Railway System operated its last continuous passenger service across the country. Sound recordist Chris Watson spent a month on board the train with some of the last passengers to travel this route. In this sound portrait, based on his original recordings, we recreate the journey of the 'ghost train'; evoking memories of a recent past, capturing the atmosphere, rhythms and sounds of human life and wildlife along the tracks of one of Mexico's greatest engineering projects.
Our journey begins on the west coast at Los Mochis. From here the track rises to an altitude of around 2,500 metres (over 8,000 ft) travelling through truly spectacular scenery as it sweeps through the Copper Canyon. The Tarahumara people, descendants of the Aztecs, still live a simple life in these canyons, as they have done for thousands of years. From here, we descend into Chihuahua City, and pause in the goods yard of the station, eavesdropping on an industrial symphony of metallic sounds. Further south, near the city of Durango, we swap railway coach for stage coach and travel to La Joya, the ranch once owned by the actor, John Wayne. Then it's back on the train, and onwards to the silver mines of Zacatecas. The dangers of working here are legendary. The ghost train travels on .. a gentle breeze sighs through the pine forest along the track side, and then, further south, the sounds of the Mariachi bands greet the train as it travels through Mexico city. In the vast landscape of shanty towns, the tracks are used as commuter routes by the locals. Cattle are even driven along them. But such practices can be fatal; in these suburbs, the trains don't stop. Then there's a diversion to El Tajin; here the descendants of the Mayans spin from tall poles and play games where the winner faces a sacrificial death. The end of the journey approaches; the ghost train thunders on towards the east coast, the Gulf of Mexico and our destination, Veracruz, where ship hooters in the harbour compete with the deafening screech of the train horn.
The recordings used in this programme were originally made by Chris Watson whilst in Mexico with a film crew for the BBC Television programme, Great Railways Journeys: Mexico. Sadly, since these recordings were made, the artist Phil Kelly has died (August 2010).
Narrator Chris Watson
Producer Sarah Blunt. 

Episode image for El Tren Fantasma


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