"An arbitrary succession of more or less irritating sounds"

Monday, 19 October 2009

“as ignorable as it is interesting”

LMYE trying to engage with TU M's beguiling Monochromes Vol.1, from a discussion at disquiet (with a few hindsightful amends): tranquil, languid, subtle, TU M’ exemplify a kind of gentle drone-ambient that is utterly likeable, though perhaps not completely challenging. Long repeated waves of breathy sound at breathing pace, topped with very gradual accretions & embellishments, do what Eno dictated all those years ago ambient should do: provide an immersive music that works as well in the background as the foreground, & allows the listener to vary their stance to it as mood dictates - or in his far snappier version: “as ignorable as it is interesting”!

Foregrounded, the pieces have of course to be accepted on their own terms. Inevitably, their elongation & repetition means that ‘development’ is near-glacial — & limited: more like time spent static than travelling. That feeling is clearly heightened by their being monochromes in the sense of a very restricted palette of tone & mood.

Although far from revolutionary & strikingly narrow in range, they do reward the substantial investment of time (if not constant attention) they demand… But it’s a bit discomforting to ask what difference it would have made if ‘Monochrome 4′ had come in at 17 minutes, rather than 30?

No doubt TU M’s artistic judgement about how long each piece should go on was based on their assessment of that weight & cadence – but as artists like Scanner &, yes, Eno start to make use of the iPhone to offer loops that listeners can run for however long they like, it’s kind of interesting to imagine the Monochromes released in that endless format.

[Scanner's newly-released & currently free Whisper for iPhone/iPod Touch (http://bit.ly/sP8oU), is a strong recommendation in these parts - a haunting, moody loop that feels like an ultra-modern conception & delivery of music...]

Another angle on this. TU M’ put an 8:16 “excerpt” of the unreleased Monochromes 00 up online (it's below). Since we don’t know how long the full version is intended to be, we can only take the excerpt on its merits (it’s as beguiling as the rest, with an occasional sliver of muffled echo somewhat reminiscent of Chris McNamara’s ‘Vague Cities’).

To weigh the excerpt against an unavailable but by definition longer full version, an iPhone-type loop would let you feel your own way to its perfect, Platonic length – if one exists!

Important: LMYE only makes music available that artists/labels have chosen to share freely. Let us know if something here shouldn't be.

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