James Murphy’s ‘Subway Symphony’ Comes to Life at the Lowline Lab on Essex Street

Posted on: November 23rd, 2015 at 5:18 am by
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​LCD Soundsystem and the Lowline are now bedfellows.

Musician James Murphy, as has been widely reported, continues his quest to bring a more welcoming set of tones to the subway entrance experience. His “Subway Symphony” invention solves that aesthetic problem by introducing “shimmering pieces of music” each time straphangers pass through the turnstiles.

Even though the fifteen-year endeavor remains unrealized, the Lowline has faith. After all, it too is an idea still struggling for legitimacy. Now the ambitious subterranean project is bringing Murphy’s idea to life, albeit in prototypical format.

As part of its media-heavy blitz for the Lowline Lab, organizers teamed up with the LCD Soundsystem lead and his Heineken sponsors to show off the crazy technology. A faux subway stop has been installed in the entrance to 140 Essex Street with which the public can experiment. Subway Symphony kicked off this weekend and will continue for the duration of the Lowline Lab. Saturdays and Sundays into 2016 at the very least.

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As for the viability of Subway Symphony, it looks futile. Despite the high-profile endorsement from Heineken last summer. The MTA has been against the invention since inception.

“We have heard from him, and as we’ve told him many times, we cannot do it,” MTA’s Adam Lisberg told Gothamist over the summer. “The tones are an ADA element for the visually impaired, and we won’t mess with them—much less take turnstiles out of service and risk disabling them for an art project. (It would be a very cool project, don’t get me wrong, but we can’t mess with turnstiles that handle 6 million customers a day for it.)”

In related news, the city last week issued a “Request for Expressions of Interest” regarding the former underground trolley terminal the Lowline seeks for its park. Meaning, the powers that be are ready to part with the fallow space. It’s the next large step needed for the $70 million project to proceed. So, co-founders James Ramsey and Dan Barasch will submit the proposal in due course. As will other entrepreneurs. The plot thickens.

New York, I love you but you’re bringing me down.

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