Line in Between: Sounds of New York City

Snapshot: Artists Wes Batts, Kayla Colaizzi & Mike Laura took to the streets to transform the New York Cityscape into a scintillating soundscape, titled 'Line in Between'. “Walking around the city there is so much noise going on everywhere and you don’t really realize that those noises are very identifiable to each location.” Colaizzi explained.

The Line in Between project brought the creative trio into the field, exploring personal and popular places throughout the city to record and reinterpret the sights, sounds and raw essence of these surroundings.

Using a Zoom H6 Portable Microphone with a variety of microphone attachments, the team recorded an array of naturally occurring and provoked noises from the infrastructure & pedestrian environments of locations ranging from the Brooklyn seclusions of the Marcy Playground to the Tourist hubs of Central Park. With a full catalog of sounds at their disposal, they manipulated and skillfully engineered the sounds, noises and clamor into an insightful, experimental mix that hearkens back to the innovative work of classical NY composer, Steve Reich in the 1980s, but with a more modern, electro feeling that appeals to contemporary trends.

The tracks are designed to individually express the personality of each location, which often translates quite literally. Listening to the track built on Wall Street, there is a sense of a shared knowledge between composer and listener as you are met by semi-anticipated ominous tones and the vague impression of tall, hollow buildings rattling with money and suits. Similarly, Chinatown expresses hustle, bustle and the chaotic fusion of conflicting smells that collide on every manic street corner.

Contrary to expectation, the album flows neatly and each borough’s accompanying track is both an expression of the location and an individually accomplished piece of music. While the composition is intrinsically linked to the space in which its instrumentation was formed, the album functions separately as an interesting, invigorating recording while the story behind its construction and ideology stands as the narrative backdrop.

When asked how this idea came to be, Kayla tells us “Our inspiration really came from New York City and a love for sound. We wanted to capture those noises and organize them to make soundtrack for each location. When you hear the whole album together you realize how much these sounds effect you depending on where you are in the city.” There is an urgency in the composition that almost makes you want to plug in to track #9 while standing on the highline to compare notes. The trio have managed to capture what often goes unnoticed and allow the natural noise of the city to express itself on a new platform.

The album also comes neatly packaged. Kayla explains, “The Artwork was inspired by each of the New York locations and the sounds derived from the locations. The photos were taken the same day as the sound samples by Mike Laura, using a Hasselblad, which is a medium format film camera. Once the whole album was finished we (Wes Batts and Kayla Colaizzi) took inspiration from each of the tracks/locations to manipulate the photos in a way that visually represented the music. These pieces of artwork were made for each location and used for the Vinyl.”

A year in the works, "Line in Between” has finally come to fruition, and with the help of Kickstarter should be hitting the shelves soon. Recording and reworking cityscapes has indeed been “done” before, but not quite like this. The passion, enthusiasm and honesty with which this album was put together can be heard in the intricate detail of every beat that began as a simple footstep, or creak of a bridge that has been attentively and carefully transformed into a lyrical expression of this musical city.

Full track list:

1.) Marcy Playground 2.) 5 Points 3.) Broadway 4.) Transmitter Park 5.) Chinatown 6.) Grand Central Station 7.) Subway 8.) Wall Street 9.) High Line 10.) Central Park

Photography by Mike Laura // Artwork by Kayla Colaizzi // Sound by Wes Batts // Follow @reinhardtphotography @KaylaColaizzi @WesBatts