The music London makes, and its relation to the city, has not been written about as much as you might think. Simon Reynolds’ excellent chapter on pirate radio in the UK edition of “Energy Flash”; the atmosphere of 70s London threaded through books like England’s Dreaming and Bass Culture; superb on-the-ground commentaries by a host of recent music writers and bloggers; but unless I’m being ignorant no full-length studies, no London equivalent of Hoskyns on LA or Haslam on Manchester. Maybe it’s undesirable, or impossible – surely one of the attractions of London culture is its patchwork slipperiness? (Or is that too glib? More likely one of the attractions of London is that most people never experience it as something as huge as ‘London’)

Anyway, I would never want to write about London music as such. Because I don’t feel like a Londoner. I’m interested in something that’s been even less written about – music about London; or the stories and dreams and images of London you can uncover through that music.

The methodology is insultingly simple: I typed the word London into a P2P server. A thousand people sharing “Lifeforms” and “Dead Cities”: oops. Crash. I typed it in again with a search proviso: no “future” for me. Then I downloaded anything I saw with the word in a song title. “London”, “Lost Rivers Of London”, “Red London”, “London In The Rain”, “London Leatherboys”…. anything. Any genre, vocal or non-vocal, long or short, by insiders or outsiders, songs with London at their centre and songs with London a whimsical periphery. And now I’m going to sit down, listen to them, and see what I learn.