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After the success of last year’s location recording adventures in Budapest, I felt duty bound to take my little recording device away with me. I’ve recently been debating replacing my recorder with one whose age isn’t actually in double-figures, but the wealth of options available these days means that it kept getting pushed down the to-do list. I’d tried getting a bigger memory card for it, but it proved too old to accept the shiny new card I bought for it, and when I put the old one back in ahead of my holiday, I found that it now claimed to only have space for about a three minute recording, despite all the recordings from my last location recording adventures having been cleared off it.

Thankfully it occurred to me that I could just reformat the memory card, so I tried that, and it worked! I now had over three hours of recording space on my recorder rather than the thirty minutes of more recent history. I didn’t need a bigger memory card at all! (Cue much embarrassment that I’d missed such an obvious solution.) Realistically, I do actually need to replace my recorder as some of the buttons are starting to stick and become unresponsive at inconvenient moments, however, I have a reprieve that means I can still make recordings while I thoroughly research the replacement.

Recording in Riga was a very different experience to recording in Budapest, and not just because the weather was substantially wetter in Riga. While in Budapest sound recording in public made me oddly invisible, in Riga I felt thoroughly conspicuous. I’m used to the compulsion that lots of people here have to associate people with a mic and big headphones with radio vox poppers and come up for a natter, but this was different. I’ve never been stared at so much when making sound recordings. Perhaps public transport is considered something more normal to record, but having stumbled across a pedestrian crossing that made some distinctive sounds, I found myself subject to many, many strange looks. Maybe it was just because the passers by were stopped too, so they had a proper chance to take in what I was actually doing, but I don’t think I’ve ever had so many people stop dead, nudge their companions and point, or look obviously baffled by my actions. Listening back to my recordings my own audio labels even sound hesitant and whispered. I’ve got some nice recordings from Riga but not as many as I’d have hoped because frankly I was feeling a bit self-conscious about the whole thing.

I had no such problems sound recording in Helsinki. The friend I was visiting found my hobby fascinating and assured me that even if passing members of the public thought what I was up to was weird, they would be far too reserved to say so! She was correct; I was once again invisible making sound recordings in Helsinki, though most of my recordings were public transport based, so I can’t be entirely certain that that isn’t a factor more generally. Public transport and church bells do seem to be the common theme among my location recording adventures, likely because they’re the kind of sounds that are easily captured if you’re in an unfamiliar place. All to often I would hear an interesting sound – a siren or a bird – and either not be in a position to capture the sound or for the sound to be too transitory, having been and gone before I could get my recorder out to capture it.

Despite my fondness for recording public transport, I utterly failed to get any recordings during the not inconsiderable time I spent in airports while I was away. There’s something about airports that mean, despite the plethora of interesting sounds they contain, that I never seem to manage to get any recordings when I’m there. I suspect it’s something to do with the strange liminal nature of airports that you always seem to have both too much and not enough time all at once. Also there’s the whole crossing borders thing, which I think causes a certain level of unconscious stress – a low level existential angst – you’re never entirely certain what you are and are not allowed to do.