DAY SIX / DISC SIX
Music For Future Installations
I have an LP of compositions for glass harmonica. Mozart wrote several. “Unnoticed Planet”, the first piece on disc six, has clear, ringing notes hanging suspended in space. Plenty of thin air, enough to enjoy the decay of these glass-like notes.
Listening to the final disc on headphones, late at night, I feel a little conflicted. I’ve enjoyed this journey in Enoworld and part of me does not want it to end. But another part of me has had enough formless distance music, at least for now. Maybe I’ll put on a Ramones record and explore a mash-up.
“Unnoticed Planet” is beautiful and serene, its atmosphere full of scattered silver fireflies, the distance between them as entrancing as their points of light.
Asking your ears to be an open satellite dish to these interstellar worlds, yet retain enough focus to enable language centres and typing fingers was a task destined to produce conflict.
“Liquidambar” sounds like a slowed down recording. If I had the vinyl, I’d up the speed to 45rpm to see what it sounds like but I don’t so instead I imagine a scene from Tarkovsky’s Solaris. The tuttering drums and eerie spears of synth build tension. Foreboding. The future installation this music accompanies would not be a chirpy bit of art. No indeed.
As “Sour Evening (Complex Heaven 3)” takes over, the return to photon sprays of high register notes is a relief. Though the immediacy of headphone sound means the cosmic high tension is inside my head, not infiltrating the lounge-room. Perhaps I should drop the volume and forget description in favour of simply drifting with the oscillator flow. After all, there is just the eighteen minute “Surbahar Sleeping Music” to go and we can all get some sleep.
The surbahar is a bass sitar. How intriguing. Although in Hindi it literally means “Spring melody”.
A treated bass note announces the beginning of the final piece. There is a string-like timbre in these sounds, an electrical plucking and low reverberation. Something that could be a harmonium plays a few dissonant chords; perhaps this is some kind of Indian homage.
As “Surbahar Sleeping Music” settles into a dreamlike landscape of shifting dunes, Eastern textures forgotten.
I reflect on Music For Installations. Having listened to each CD at least three times, I know half of it half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of it half as well as it deserves. I also realise I still don’t know how to write about ambient electronica. Or perhaps the inherent paradox is unresolvable. But I have a box full of Eno I can dip into at will, extract a brightly coloured lozenge, place it onto the tongue of the CD player, and know something will emerge that, if not always soothing, will certainly stimulate my brain to wander in other, imagined lands.
To drift down Eno’s endless river, always changing always the same…
Thank you to those who have taken this six-part journey through Music For Installations.
You are invited to comment on any or all of the posts, ask questions, or offer your own thoughts on ambient music.
Next: The author will attempt to juggle three blogs simultaneously.