i find myself appreciating music like this now more than ever. it’s not social music – you can’t dance to it; you don’t have it playing in the background at a house party; you don’t share it collectively at a festival with sweaty strangers; it’s anti-hipster. instead it’s internal music, epitomised by the ambient sounds that accompany the more traditional elements of music (instruments). it’s almost in spite of the large number of performers/contributors that this is so close.
this also reaches into the manifesto from constellation records posted a few weeks ago in relation to godspeed you! black emperor (yes, this is another montreal ‘supergroup’ with some common members – though the labels are alien8 and p-vine for this release). the packaging is its own important entity in complementing the sounds contained within; a mark of the art and craft that these musicians hold in high esteem for what they create. you might read that as pretentious. but that’s not the intent or, for my money, the outcome.
the cd itself is stored inside a lightly textured black envelope, unsealed. the thick book has semi-translucent pages for the lyingdyingwonderbody entries (spoken word recordings). images contained therein range from the building in which the album was made and schematic drawings, to intimate pictures of people, occluded from view in various ways. i can only presume that these features are replicated in the vinyl version. but this was a sign to me that, regardless of the music being fully digitised/modernised on a small piece of plastic, you could still fully absorb visual as well as aural aesthetics associated with the material.
and thus, the music itself. it’s almost exclusively quiet with occasional overtones of sinister threat and some verging on outright emotional violence. but beauty is literally contained across the expanse/inner world of the album. conceptually you feel this in their own description of the project, such as it was, with 60% improvised and 40% composed. a balance between the planned and the unplanned; how both mechanisms happen to create a final product and, in contradiction, define and undermine the strengths of each. this carries as a theme in the whole creation.
i find it fascinating to actually read the pitchfork review in parallel to listening and writing about this myself which, if i otherwise do at all, isn’t until after i’ve articulated my own thoughts. i took this album on as a very individual pursuit, even though i know how it came to be. it’s intended to be characteristic of isolation – in the end, two quite different concepts. it bought a 9.0 for the results and the recognition that musicians aren’t actually divorced from the world. the album is not in the least bit proselytic as an exercise in attempting to draw lines around the dead bodies that make up modern culture. in part this is because it also documents everyday life without a single word – the sound of sniffing, a zip being (un)zipped, rain, movement, cars.
as music, it’s not something you will ever hear on the radio driving down a highway or on your way to work of a morning. it’s not even really something that a mate will recommend to you. if you happen to have found it, you just know where its value lies.