Monday, January 30, 2006

The Extremely Uneventful Music project

Over on the Bowlie Forum, there was this thread about extremely uneventful music that evolved into a mix-CD exchange thing. The idea was that people would make and distribute CDs of uneventful music. There was rather a loose definition of what the musical subject was. It did seem initially to lean towards minimalism and 20th century classical, but a lot of what made it into the discs was more like ambient music generally. Unfortunately, it kind of goes with the music that a lot of it does not stand out, but I have had great fun lying on the coach while these discs play, hovering in the zone between sleep and wakefulness.

I tired to pitch the old Frank’s APA to the people to whom I sent discs, but I do not think any of them have bitten. If you are interested, here is the tracklisting of my disc, together with my comments thereon:

1. ‘Koyaanisqatsi’ by Philip Glass. From the album “Koyaanisqatsi”, soundtrack to the film of the same name. I think this film was my introduction to the crazy world of minimal music. Koyaanisqatsi is some Hopi Indian word meaning ‘life out of balance’ or ‘a way of living that calls for another way of living’. I recommend the film highly; it is a spectacular marriage of music and moving images.

2. ‘Tjatrik’, recorded in Java by Suryabata & David Lewiston, from the album “The Jasmine Isle: Gamelan Music”. Gamelan is a style of music played in parts of Indonesia and some neighbouring countries. It is very percussive, based around people hitting xylophone type instruments or ringing little bells and stuff. Apparently it was influential on some 20th century Western classical music, notably that of Debussy who caught some at a world fair somewhere. I like the way it sounds almost electronic, despite being entirely acoustic. Javan v. Balinese Gamelan seems to be the form’s big divide. Based on what I have heard, Javan is the way to go, as Balinese is just a bit too frenetic sounding.

If you ever get a chance to see Gamelan being played live, go for it. It looks and sounds amazing, even played by Whitey.

I think Tjatrik might actually be a particular type of Gamelan rather than the title of this piece.

3. ‘Birth of Liquid Pleijades’ by Tangerine Dream, from the album “Zeit”. Scary Krautrock.

4. ‘Requiem for Soprano, Mezzo Soprano, Two Mixed Choirs, & Orchestra’ by Gyorgy Ligetti, from the soundtrack to “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. Bleak, scary music.

5. ‘Vessel’, by Philip Glass, from “Koyaanisqatsi”. This features the classic Philip Glass switch from slow to fast music.

6. ‘Lux Aeterna’ by Gyorgy Ligetti, again from “2001 – A Space Odyssey”. More scary music, probably the visual accompaniment to Dave Bowman experiencing the alienation of space’s remote depths.

7. ‘Rainstorm Blues’ by Flying Saucer Attack, from the album “Further”. I know very little about these fellows.

8. ‘Aguirre I (Lacrime Di Rei)’ by Popol Vuh, from “Aguirre – The Wrath of God”, soundtrack to the film of the same name. This is the film by Werner Herzog in which Klaus Kinski plays a raving madman attempting to carve out an empire for himself in the depths of the Amazon basin. He ends up trying to organise a load of squirrel monkeys into a crack fighting force.

9. ‘Hell-O)))-Ween’ by Sunn-O))), from the album “White 2”. I cannot recommend going to see Sunn-O)))) live highly enough. Make sure you bring earplugs.

I could probably do up another copy for anyone who has not already heard all these tunes.
Talking of CD giveaways, check out “My Christmas Gift To You”, especially if you like World Pop. I've been a bit overwhelmed by demand for that one, so the one person who asked for a copy is up against a bit of a backlog. But it's all manageable.

By the way, copyright Nazis, all this talk about making copying CDs is entirely for the purposes of humour. As The Arctic Monkeys record label can vouch, digital transferring is killing music.

3 comments:

Brian D said...

Crikey, that's hardly uneventful now is? Especially not all that widdly-diddly Glass and Dream. If you want something really uneventful I've got a stackload of Bernhard Gunter, Alvin Lucier, Steve Roden, Eliane Radigue, etc that I could probably post or stick on a CD ...

ian said...

thanks for writing in, Brian! I was kind of thinking that "uneventful" meant something like "mininal", hence the presence of Glassy. TG do not have any beats, hence by one definition they may count as "uneventful".

Anyway, all this chat is taking me right back... have you been bitten by the bug enough to rejoin teh Frank's?

brian d said...

Nay, nay and thrice etc.