Perched charmingly on the very top of the Queen Elizabeth Hall, A Room For London is a one room hotel in the shape and style of a boat. The project came to fruition via a collaborative project between architect David Kohn and artist Fiona Banner and will remain in place for the whole of 2012.
Positioned in a vantage point where it is slightly above and removed from London’s kinetic commuter hustle, yet still very much connected to the cultural nucleus of the Southbank it looks down on, A Room For London is designed only in part for the public to rent out as a hotel room. The other part of its function is to act as a space of artistic reflection and creation. Each month a different writer, artist or musician will be invited to stay in A Room For London with the specific task of using their time in the boat to write and create a new piece of work.
In February, David Byrne spent a couple of days in the room and came out with a piece titled ‘Get It Away’ (listen below). After spending a considerable portion of his creative career singing about, writing about and taking pictures of cities, ‘Get It Away’ sees Byrne in the suitable mode of urban explorer.
Byrne created his “soundscape” by recording sounds as he explored the streets, markets and stations of London. He talks of how the sounds of London “converged around a common rhythm”, a rhythm he followed and added his own instrumentation to.
Ever the modern flaneur, Byrne uses snatched voices of market sellers, echoes of trains and the Southwark Cathedral organ (amongst other sounds) to create ‘Get It Away’.
Although the way Byrne discusses his project may threaten to cross over into academic obscurity, ‘Get It Away’ is actually structured around a sweet, accessible melody. The ex-Talking Heads singer’s heightened intellect and his clear thirst for exploration (both sonically and physically) results in a piece that’s hard not to enthuse about.