Sound walks are a recent addition to the world of urban exploration and travel, but Untapped Cities has been scoping them out as they pop-up. The Guggenheim Museum’s Stillspotting NYC took us to Staten Island. Untapped writer Lea Plourde Archer created her own auditory tour of Tokyo. Now, Gonzo (circus), an innovative music and culture magazine, offers eight Klankstappen (sound walks) to download as audio accompaniments to urban exploration throughout the Netherlands and Belgium. In reality, the design of these programs has the potential to transport the listener to just about any major city across the world.
There is a certain intentionality underscoring the Klankstappen that creates a much more mindful experience of a city. We began at Amsterdam Muiderpoort station ready to embark on an audio journey through the eastern part of the city accompanied by the sounds of a place much further east: soon-to-be post-Communist China circa 1987. Cilia Erens, creator of this first sound walk in the Netherlands, invites listeners to experience a city neighborhood by reflecting parallels between quickly evolving urban environments. As we waited for the train to arrive, we were flanked by the sounds of Chinese voices seemingly across the platform; preserved infinitely beyond time and place. A short sojourn in a cafe quickly evolved into a convergence of multiple worlds through the sounded juxtaposition of accordion strains, car horns, Chinese pop music, the jingling bells of street vendors, and the clinking of silverware. At the final signal of a clock tower, we made our way across the city for a waterside stroll.
As we emerged from Centraal Station on the other side of Amsterdam, we were immersed in a rich soundscape of words, music and sound effects embodying the history of the Western docks of the city from the perspective of inspired women. Following a detailed map and sound cues from apiece titled “Underneath Your Feet, We Meet,” by Nathalie Bruys, the spoken stanzas reflected a sort of escapist mentality through the metaphor of the vastness of the water. To experience a sound walk for yourself, you can download all eight Klankstappen for a mere 10 euros.