Review: George Rayner-Law + Vinegar Tom – Oyster Card


Just as we’re seeing strike action by rail staff over job insecurity, proposed job cuts and low wages across the UK, this exquisite 5” lathe takes the sounds of the London Underground and blasts it up the escalators and through the turnstiles, momentarily smothering the din of anti-union sentiment that dominates the surface world of political discourse. While both sides haul up that unmistakable howl, and those squealing brakes – I can pretty much feel that blast of displaced air that sweeps across the platforms – both players take different routes, literally and figuratively, in rendering their respective commutes in harsh noise terms. George Rayner-Law takes the DLR, ravaging locomotive momentum through stutters and glitches, the wheels grinding against dents in the rails, the LED display ribbons jerking into reverse. Cutting immediately in Vinegar Tom’s “Nothern Line” (a muffled announcement halfway through situates us at Colliers Wood), you realise that you’ve emerged from a tight tunnel into swirling hard-panned stereo. Little hisses and scrapes poke through the noise, with the fuzz warping the roar of moving trains into something bordering on the choral. It rises in pitch as if accelerating to untenable speeds…surely we’re going to hurtle right through Tooting Broadway at this rate?

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