'Lay-by Lullaby'

Sound sculpture/installation/album

Originally produced for the Agency gallery solo show 'Collecting Connections' London 2013


CD Album in 6 page deluxe card case released by
12k New York, 4th Feb 2014

view press release here

Track Listing:
Radio 101 FM > 5:25
Radio 102 FM > 3:47
Radio 103 FM > 5:26
Radio 104 FM > 6:59
Radio 105 FM > 7:50
Radio 106 FM > 8:11
Radio 107 FM > 6:46
Radio 108 FM > 4:52
Radio 109 FM > 5:54
Radio 110 FM > 5:36
Radio 111 FM > 3:39
Radio 112 FM > 9:10

preview 3 tracks on 12k Soundcloud

purchase from the audiOh! Kiosk

Sleeve notes:

This is the first album for 12k from renowned UK sound artist Janek Schaefer. He has been active in the music and art worlds for the past 20 years recording and creating sound installations for an impressive list of labels and institutions. In 2008 Schaefer won the British Composer of the Year award in Sonic Art, and the Paul Hamlyn Award, for his project Extended Play [triptych for the child survivors of war and conflict]. He is a Visiting Professor & Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, in the Sonic Art Research Unit, and is represented by the Agency gallery, London.

In 2010 Janek produced his largest and most ambitious installation *‘Asleep at the wheel...' which explored how our society is hurtling down the fast lane of life with our head in the clouds, and our foot to the floor thinking the road ahead goes on forever. Incorporating spoken word soundbites from a variety of forward thinking people, it enlightened and challenged the audience into waking up, with very positive reactions from all the generations that attended.

In contrast to this, 'Lay-by Lullaby' is a companion album that invites you to take a break, pull over, and daydream as life speeds on by. The motorway signs above read - Tiredness can kill...

The composition is his calmest yet, and is based around location recordings made in the middle of the night above the M3 motorway, right at the end of the road where JG Ballard lived, a couple of miles from Schaefer’s studio on the far west edge of London. Ballard wrote his seminal works on car culture, as the motorway was being built past the front of his house in 1973; Crash (1973), Concrete Island (1974).

The 73 minute album weaves these location recordings around a series of spacious sonorities, that shimmer with analogue textures and liminal melodies that burnout in the passing headlights. The speeding traffic dopplertrails reveal fleeting passages of soporific sounds that entice you to recline, drift and fade away. An album to enjoy with your eyes closed, on repeat play until the dawn rush-hour returns...

‘Lay-by Lullaby’ was created in 2013 as a sculptural installation for Schaefer’s solo London show ’Collecting Connections’ at the Agency gallery. A pair of reclining traffic speaker cones play back the foundsoundscape from a car radio installed in a little leather travel case on infinite loop.

* Asleep at the wheel... was commissioned by If Milton Keynes International Festival 2010 with support from Sound and Music

Installation in the 'Collecting Connections' solo show at the Agency Gallery, March 2013


Views of a trip to 'Ballard's Bridge' Feb 4th 2014

”The Car, The Future” (1971)

Ballard wrote “I think that the 20th century reaches almost its purest expression on the highway.
Here we see, all too clearly, the speed and violence of our age, its strange love affair with the machine,
and conceivably, with its own death and destruction”

"I need the sound of cars, to drown the silent night" [Brian Eno/Karl Hyde]



Live Concert premier at the Ace Hotel, Shoreditch, London, 2014

part of the William Basinski Arcadia festival, by Art Assembly




Lay-by Lullaby installed in the reception lobby of the Ace Hotel, March 2014



31 Reviews


Pitchfork 'Top 10 best under-the-radar releases of 2014' . . .
'Lay-by Lullaby' feels less like a trip down the road than a retreat into the subconscious, a beguiling mesh of dream sounds and memory echoes
from an artist who knows that the most affecting music can also be the most abstract."

"Janek Schaefer has regularly returned to the concepts and ideas from J.G. Ballard, with Lay-by Lullaby being the most recent.
It began as a gallery installation which saw speakers mounted into traffic cones, receiving transmissions from a classy leather-bound radio,
with the sound design itself a loosely composed work of field recordings from the M3 motorway on the outskirts of London in front of Ballard's house.
The sounds of traffic rushing by is a recurring motif, a reference to Ballard's sex'n'death meditations on the car. On top of these found sounds,
Schaefer layers placid sonorities that recall Basinski's tape loop mantras, offering similarly maudlin eulogies. A few of the tracks, such as 'Radio 104FM',
sport a snippet of a Lynchian pop song that tumbles into narcotised reverb. Using the simple overlay of symbolic sounds it provides an accessible piece of sound art.
As a composition fixed in time and space, the album variation offers a pleasant, unchallenging listen."

[The Wire]

One of the most impressive works I've heard this year, it's utterly captivating.. !

[SWAP radio, France]

Exceptional - and is virtually a textbook example on how to present audio installations in an album context..
A rare gift: an album that forces re-evaluation of your place in the world.

[Fluid Radio - full review here]

If to Brian Eno, the 'Airport' was the perfect environment to be one with the music, to Janek Schaefer then, the 'Highway' is the location of the music itself,
the seat of a journey that is both internal (inside themselves, in the brain ) and also the external (with open eyes, influenced by the views from the outside) .

[Ondarock, Italy, full review here]

"Janek Schaefer's 'Lay-by Lullaby' is quite simply my favourite release of the year"
[Pete Warren - BBC]

"Janek Schaefer could not disappoint. And he did not disappoint. An album of calm melodies spread sparingly so as not to exhaust their potential.
It works because the 75 minutes of music pass in the blink of an eye. Just close your eyes. An archetypal ambient / drone that is really well controlled."

[Goute mes disques full review here]

Lay-by Lullaby est un album délicieusement soporifique
[France Musique - full review here]

"free from the burden of time."
[SWQW - full review here]


Quite easily our favourite 12k release for some time - check out the sublime new album from Janek Schaefer,
an incredible blend of field recordings, found sounds and Janek's signature manipulated transmissions, this is an absolute must”.

over fifteen year career, dozens of out on major labels discs (Line, Room40, ...) and sound installations that we have always dreamed to see in real life.
Janek Schaefer could not disappoint. And he did not disappoint.

"His tastefully understated melodies and textures are brilliant on their own.
But here, the way they mimic the hypnotizing repetition of night driving with the interrupting recordings of passing cars is what makes this a brilliantly effective album.."

[Brainwashed/Creaig Dunton full review]

"Many thanks, it's another great album from you, well conceived."
[Ben Ponton/Zoviet*France]

"That sense of comfortableness derived from sleeping on your dad's back seat ?"
[Touching Extremes full review]

"Clear Ambinet tenderness.... an exact counterpoint to the furious 'Asleep At The Wheel'."
[RifRaf, Paris]

"the upcoming janek schaefer cd is absolutely the best thing i've ever heard from him…
and i'm not just saying that 'cos it's on 12k !"

[Taylor Dupree]

Aside from another year of flawless programming, the festival this year also features a series of one-off events,
most notably including a special concert by influential British musician/artist Janek Schaefer called Lay-by Lullaby.

[The 405]

The end result of "Lay-by Lullaby" is an exciting immense drive, and an avenue of escape for the illuminated to be swayed whole by his drugged illusion.
[Concepto Radio - spanish full review here]

The aesthetic power that illuminates the everyday, transfigures, making it beautiful.
Tired of the daily grind? You want to escape from the boredom of routine? Your desire is to give it a rest? Well, this is the disc for you.

[Carnage Italy - full review here]

Ambient.net review here

It comes as a bit of a surprise to learn that Lay-By Lullaby is UK sound artist Janek Schaefer's first appearance on 12k, given how close in spirit their respective aesthetic sensibilities are. For listeners conversant with the sound art field, Schaefer is a well-known quantity who's been creating distinctive sound works and gallery installations during the past two decades; he's been recognized publicly with awards a number of times (in 2008, for example, he was deemed British Composer of the Year Award in Sonic Art), and he currently holds a research post at Oxford Brookes University in the Sonic Art Research Unit. An early example of his imaginative approach is seen in a work called Recorded Delivery that he created while studying architecture at the Royal College of Art and which presents the noises recorded by a sound-activated dictaphone as it made its way through the postal system. Recordings are but one area of focus for Schaefer, with site-specific installations, sound sculptures, exhibitions, and concert performances all part of the presentation mix.

Lay-by Lullaby first came into being as a 2013 sculptural installation in Schaefer's solo London show Collecting Connections that involved a pair of traffic speaker cones playing sound loops from a leather travel case-installed car radio. The project was preceded in 2010 by a related work of diametrically opposite character, the installation Asleep at the Wheel, which focused on the way individuals race through their lives, their foot to the floor and their thoughts distracted and muddled as a result. By contrast, Lay-by Lullaby slows the pace, so much so that the seventy-four-minute recording plays like a document of the inner experiences of a too-tired driver who's parked by the roadside to rest. As he drifts off, lulled by the doppler-like streaks of passing cars and trucks, song snippets and memory fragments rise up, with near-silent pauses between the impressions suggesting brief lapses into sleep. Often smothered in vinyl crackle and surface noise, sound swells, blurry voice samples, song fragments, and pretty piano, church organ, and harp melodies surface; ambient-drone and dub episodes form part of the oft-serene mix; traffic sounds act as an omnipresent ground for the mutating and markedly textural sound-field; and one section in the fourth part even sounds uncannily like woozy material by William Basinski. Twelve tracks are indexed, with all titles adhering to a similar format (“Radio 101 FM,” “Radio 102 FM,” and so on), but the recording registers more as a long-form compositional collage of pronouncedly episodic design.

As an interesting side note, the location recordings featured in the work were collected by Schaefer above the M3 motorway on the far west edge of London, close to where JG Ballard lived. In fact, his well-known books Crash (1973) and Concrete Island (1974) were actually written as the motorway was being built past the front of his house. Schaefer's work is always marked by imagination and originality, qualities that are on full display in Lay-by Lullaby. Though it's a tad more ambient-styled in comparison to some of his works, it offers a fine entry-point to anyone not yet familiar with his world.


Excellent high qualty stuff, and a very absorbing and rewarding atmospheric listening experience. Where would I be without 12k.
[Stephen Hardy]

"The beauty of decay that remains consistent with its inexhaustible spectral shapes."
[Hawai, full review here ]

"The roadway fades into the subconscious creating a vast soundscape that envelopes both the listener and Janek Shaefer’s stunning compositions. Life is in constant motion and many of us get caught in the undertow. This album is absolutely perfect for slowing down and observing this relentless current".
[Tone Harvest]

"I still immerse myself quite often into 'Lay-by Lullaby’.. can’t seem to get tired of this stunning work !"
[Johann Tournebize]

"I drive down the M3 at least three times a week – I am absent in mind as I drive, and as my mind wanders gently between traces of thought, I feel like my body evaporates and is taken with it. The glow of headlamps against my dirty windscreen translates directly into lulled harps and gentle purrs of spectral radiation."

"Finally, a new major work from Janek Schaefer... and his debut release on the much-trusted 12k label.
A very quiet album that plays with ideas like kitsch, relaxation, and dreams in sophisticated ways."

[Francois Couture]

"the album works on several levels - as background ambience as well as a melancholy farewell to the acclaimed 20th century innovation of private transport."
[HHV Magazine Germany]

"At the edge of the road Schaefer has created a place that mutes and decelerates, and allows listeners to focus on textures."
[Sonic Seducer, Germany]

"‘Lay-By Lullaby’ is one of those albums that demand the listener sits down. What I love about this release is that you can almost imagine yourself parked in a car at the side of a lonely country road, with fogged up windows and rain hitting the windscreen, contemplating what life has thrown at you. Janek Schaefer has constructed a reflective story that’s worthy and heartfelt."
[Black Audio full review here]

"The sonic strategy by which Janek renders such an abstract sequence of "enlightenments", which sound like unpredictable radio interferences, is simply stunning and deeply emotional and seems toi come from phantasmagorical entities which invite listeners to take a rest, come out of this suffocating stream and lapse into daydreaming in a whisper. "Lay-by Lullaby" is undoubtedly one of the best "environ/mental" ambient release of the year."
[Chain DLK full review here]







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