Tarifa to Berlin

Today we’re in Belgium, just between Ghent and Antwerp on our way to Lille in France where we’ll be recording some more love songs. We’ve spent the last week or so in Germany. We recorded lots of people singing in Neustadt then made our way to the Rhone-Danube canal where we placed a beacon at the continental divide monument. We popped into Austria and put a beacon in the German town of Passau right on the Austrian border, then headed North to the small village of Mödlareuth which was divided in half by the inner German border between 1966 and 1989. We then spent some time in Berlin and placed a beacon at the Berlin Wall memorial.

A lot of the journey so far has been spent placing beacons and there’s now a good scattering of them across the Western part of Europe. Our reasoning behind where we’re placing them is partly to do with locations where two things meet or converge, where one thing begins and another ends, but its also about trying to re-imagine our relationship to the European landmass. There’s a lot of talk at the moment about Europe and what it is and what it means but we wanted to do less talking and more doing and more listening. By establishing these subtle but pervasive landmarks we hope to invite different possibilities, different connections and different routes through Europe. Its certainly our experience so far that moving through the landscape using these beacons as our guide has made us see the continent in a very different way. Especially as we think about the songs we’re carrying and all the possible meanings behind them.

All the beacons we’ve placed are transmitting the love songs we’ve recorded so far. So when you travel to one of them to listen you might hear a Czech campfire song about love for the forest, a teenager’s rendition of Pink’s latest release, an elderly German lady singing a love song in an old Northern German dialect, an Algerian pop song or the Mayor of Neustadt singing Elvis’ Love Me Tender. The transmission is unedited, everyone who sings ends up on the broadcast and they’re played at random so you won’t know what to expect or who/what you might hear. As we collect more songs they’ll be added as we go so in 6 months time there’ll be voices from hopefully every country in Europe. We’ve been amazed so far at the huge variety of voices and song choices we’ve had even so early on. There’s been little to no repetition of songs and each person has sung something very personal. If you want to hear them then you can download the Oh Europa app and it will guide you to the nearest beacon and then tune in automatically to the broadcast when you get there.

We’re now getting prepped for 6 days of recording in Lille then some more recording in Ghent before a big long drive up to Nordkapp at the very top of Norway to place a beacon there. After that its a monster drive down through Finland, the Baltic states and all the way to Hungary to record in some villages there with ordogkatlan festival.