Chris Watson – El Tren Fantasma – The Signal Man’s Mix (Touch – TO:42V)
Railway, a symbol of motion, offers ultimate percussion experience as the rhythmic movement can be physically perceived on board. Chris Watson, a founding member of Cabaret Voltaire, decided to use trains as instruments and traveled with his recording gear across Mexico to capture sounds of rails for an album released on Touch.
Two tracks, labeled as Signal Man’s mixes, were selected for the vinyl release where ambient fog and touches of percussion are added to looped fragments of field recordings. “El Divisadero – The Telegraph” is a lighter vehicle, like a passenger train, but fascinates with rail-made rhythm patterns. “Veracruz – The Tunnel” on the flip starts with alarm signals of heavy cargo train approaching a tunnel with brakes clattering.
Watson has done two most enjoyable real-life compositions where 19th century pioneer spirit meets backpacker romanticism. The record with neatly designed picture sleeve salutes Ferrocariles Nacionales de Mexico, the entity now in liquidacion after being privatized.