LAPD radio signals + ambient music = a haunting collage


The Montreal band Godspeed You! Black Emperor is famous for its collages of doomsaying street sermons and sad-eyed orchestrations. But the website You Are Listening to Los Angeles gives that formula a local and often spooky revamp.

The site pairs dueling live-streams of instrumental ambient music culled from Soundcloud with chatter taken from the LAPD Citywide Dispatch and Hot Spots radio frequency. It’s a simple idea, but the tandem streams make you feel as if you’re starring in your own private “Collateral” or “Drive.

Most of the time, the radio signals just lend a general air of haunted noir to the music, which seems to come largely from home producers. But when something recognizable sticks out, such as a call about an incident at 8th Street and Broadway Avenue in downtown L.A., it makes the uneasy feelings hit home.


You Are Listening to... has similar setups for various cities, including New York, Chicago and, fittingly, Montreal, whose residents are historically quite fond of menacing field recordings spliced with wan soundscapes.

But naturally, we’re partial to our hometown’s edition, if only because we’re huge Michael Mann fans and we can imagine De Niro and Pacino driving to a final face-off with this as their soundtrack.


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