Release Date: Oct 25, 2011
Record label: Touch
Genre(s): Electronic, Club/Dance
Chris Watson, an ace sound recordist and co-founder of Cabaret Voltaire, spent five weeks one decade ago on a dying train line making a coast to coast trip across Mexico. He had a sleeping car at the back and the driver let him into the cabin, he recorded, he listened, he paid attention to the boom-boom of the rails, the intellect of the engine, and now he has assembled this one-hour musique concrète compression of the trip. The human presence is minimal, the rhythm is the rhythm of the journey itself, constant movement, constant change, a pulsing dynamo of change.
Chris Watson's late-2011 disc starts out as the train recording it is, pulling into a location with a rumble and a metallic screech. But with the Spanish and English announcements for "the ghost train," things move into a slightly different arena, a kind of ultimate train journey of the mind. Watson drew on recordings he made for a BBC project on a now discontinued Mexican railway line from the Caribbean to the Pacific to create El Tren Fantasma.
The fourth episode of the fourth series of the BBC's Great Railway Journeys was broadcast on the January 26th 1999. Presented by chef Rick Stein, it featured The Ghost Train, the now-defunct railway which travelled across Mexico from Los Mochis on the Pacific Coast and over the country's spine to Veracruz in the east. This continent-crossing railway, part of the Ferrocarriles Nacionales de México (FNM), had to climb 8,000 feet, travel alongside canyons, through ranch country and pine forests, and skirt shanty towns.
Field recordist supreme’s first solo album since Weather Report. Spencer Grady 2011 In his book Civilizations, historian Felipe Fernández-Armesto focuses on man’s overriding impulse to impose its will on the world, "a relationship to the natural environment, recrafted, by the civilising impulse, to meet human demands". This process lies at the very heart of El Tren Fantasma, a composite document of a train ride across Mexico, describing a passage "from Los Mochis to Veracruz, [from] coast to coast, Pacific to Atlantic".