Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Day 10: A song that makes me fall asleep

Honestly, except in the somewhat hyperbolic sense of "a song so boring it sends me to sleep" (in which case, Paul McCartney's 'Mull of Kintyre'), I can't think of any song which actively sends me to sleep. However, I do tend to listen to music in bed, so there's plenty of music to which I can fall asleep comfortably, which I suppose is close enough. Perhaps the album I listen to most often at night is William Basinski's Disintegration Loops, and today's video contains an extract from one of them.

I've just spent the best part of an hour trying to write a halfway-decent short essay about these eery, other-worldly recordings, and why they're among my favourite pieces of recorded music. Hell, I'd go further - I think they're among the most unique works of art I've ever encountered, in any medium. But I'm still feeling like crap, and the words just aren't coming together at all. It keeps coming out as either pretentious or banal, neither of which really does justice to the music, and while that's never really bothered me before, it's bothering me today. I didn't want to put this post off for another day, though, so I'm afraid this is all you're getting.

For the full story behind the creation of these loops, I'd recommend reading this review, which is actually the piece which persuaded me to listen to them in the first place. Basinski's own liner notes in the CD set are also enormously worth reading (yes, I just wormed my way out of actually having to write about something simply by linking to someone else who's done my work for me already. Sue me, I'm ill). If I'm feeling better tomorrow, I may come back and edit this to add a few more thoughts of my own ( EDIT : I didn't ) - in the meantime, sorry to anyone who turned up today expecting actual content.

But the history of how the music came to exist, while fascinating in itself, wouldn't mean much if the loops themselves weren't so powerful on their own. Repetitive without true repetition, violent without dissonance or ugliness, hypnotic without tedium - they're simply wonderful as music, entirely disconnected from their history. With that history, of course, they become something a little more profound - music which wasn't so much composed as carved into being by the passage of time itself, an audible demonstration of the power of entropy.

But on a rather less pretentious level, they're also a great soundtrack to fall asleep to. Hence my writing about them today.

1 comment:

Pål Hellesnes said...

Thank you for linking to this, Mark. Fascinating stuff!