Thursday, August 4, 2011

Musical interlude

In case you were wondering, yes, we got back from our little vacation, and yes, it was goddam wonderful, and yes, there will be posting again probably soonish.

In the meantime, music.

Last night, inspired by some brief comments on it in David Toop's Ocean of Sound, I put on Brian Eno's 1993 Neroli for only about the second or third time ever, and for the first time in probably about a year. It's a lovely album, sparse even by the standards of Eno's ambient works, even by the standards of his 1990s, and is one of the two or three of his 90s albums that really stands out as being interestingly different from the rest.* Anyway, after listening to it for a bit, I wanted to go to sleep still listening to music, didn't want to stop listening to Neroli, but also wanted a fuller, more active sound.

*Not that the sea of very similar albums he released in the 90s--Kite Stories, I Dormienti, Music for Civic Recovery Centre, etc--aren't in themselves interesting, because they are. The other major standout from Eno's 90s, for me, is the fascinating field-recording manipulation Music for White Cube, which is both very much Eno and completely unlike anything else he ever did.

So somehow without thinking about it I opened up Eliane Radigue's Kyema, Intermediate States (which I believe I've mentioned before; in certain moods, it can be my single favorite album of all) in one program, Gas's Königsforst in another, and went back to the beginning of Neroli in aye-toonz, and played them all together (with Eno at top volume, the fuller Radigue a bit hushed, and the mixed-louder Gas almost all the way down). It was beautiful. On headphones, completely enfolding. Here's a random two-minute sample of it--though of course because of the imprecise timing of each track's start I didn't hear exactly this at any point; this is a reconstruction, and every reattempt will be slightly different.

In broad terms, Kyema provides a constant, constantly shifting baseline (not bass line); Königsforst provides structure, particularly with its periods with and without beats, and texture in counterpoint with Kyema's; and Neroli provides what might be called melody, as well as a second contrapuntal texture, if that makes sense to talk about. But then in less broad terms, it becomes difficult to figure out what sounds come from which source, and what sounds come solely from the interactions of them (I'm not positive, but I think at times I heard beat frequencies arising from the conflict between Eliane Radigue's tones and Gas's, for example). Despite my intimate familiarity with every second of Kyema, and my slightly lesser but still fairly extensive familiarity with Königsforst, I couldn't quite be sure what I was hearing doing what at any given moment. Each piece gave something to each other.

I gotta do this kind of thing more often.

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