Absolutely Free, Korea Town Acid, Casey MQ Will Make Your TTC Commute 'A More Beautiful Journey'

The city-wide sound installation soundtracks will be available to TTC riders via an augmented reality app starting September 1

BY Megan LaPierrePublished Aug 4, 2022

The old adage goes that it's about the journey, not the destination — and it tracks, especially when you consider the sights and sounds (and smells) of a ride on the TTC.

To celebrate the Toronto Transit Commission's 100th anniversary and the City of Toronto's Year of Public Art, a slew of local artists and programmers have come together to create A More Beautiful Journey (AMBJ), a city-wide sound installation providing site-specific soundtracks for TTC riders, to be available via a free augmented reality (AR) app starting September 1.

As selected by a jury consisting of Cadence Weapon, Tuku Matthews, Mario Anzola, Hugh Marsh and Allison Cameron (with additional curation by local community arts organizations), AMBJ's artist roster includes: Absolutely Free, Korea Town Acid, Prince Josh, TiKA, Casey MQ, Jahmal Padmore, Nick Storring, shn shn, Emissive, OBUXUM, Brodie West, SlowPitchSound x Laura Barrett, Stefana Fratila, Andrew Afework, All Nations Juniors, birthday boy, Charmie, Chelsea Stewart, chiquitamagic, Community Music Schools of Toronto, Craig "CDH" Live, Debashis Sinha, Felipe Sena, Kind Mind, merah & thom and Sürf.

Presented by Intersection Music & Arts (with the support of the Music Gallery), the project was conceived and produced by the likes of musician, writer and scientist Dan Werb (Woodhands); creative producer Amy Gottung (Long Winter), and saxophonist and composer Joseph Shabason, who recently released his Fresh Pepper collaborative album with André Ethier.

"Four years ago, Dan Werb and I ran into each other at a movie premiere and started talking about how much we had been enjoying Japanese Ambient music," Shabason explained in a press release. "Dan told me about how one of our favourite composers, Hiroshi Yoshimura, had written short pieces of music for different subway stations in Japan where he lived. We both wondered what it would be like to try and get all the amazing ambient composers from across Toronto to write site-specific compositions for the subway stations in the neighbourhoods where they live and grew up... A kind of homage to these spaces that are so pivotal for this city running properly done by the composers who knew the spaces best."

He continued: 

Since 2019, the project has expanded into something much more exciting than our original idea. Through geolocated sound software we are now able to get composers to score entire neighbourhoods and lines of transit rather than just one specific station. As riders move along streetcar and bus lines they will get an interactive musical snapshot of the city from a composer with connections to the neighbourhood that they are riding in. What started as a site-specific project morphed into a sprawling, ever-changing score for the entire city.

The AR app launch will coincide with live concerts at five streetcar loops across Toronto, taking place as part of Intersection Festival's 2022 edition. You can check out AMBJ contributing artists from 1 to 6 p.m. at Neville Park Loop, Wolseley Loop, Humber Loop Long Branch Loop and Regent Park Loop live on September 1. 

The app will remain accessible to TTC riders through the end of 2022.

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