Posts Tagged ‘Experimental’

Nefarious Industries

Christopher Nosnibor

Less than two years after the release of the ambient avant-jazz oddity that was CCXMD (that’s not some random Roman numeralisation, but Cinema Cinema X Matt Darriau (The Klezmatics), the New York duo return for round two of their collaboration with the astutely-titled CCXMDII.

Let’s get the spoiler out of the way up front and early: they couldn’t have shifted further from their noise roots, and there really isn’t an overloading guitar riff in the whole album. If CCXMD was avant-jazzy and ambient, CCXMDII is avant-jazzier and more ambient. Having laid the foundations previously, it’s not so much of a shock, but anyone hoping for a return to their riffier roots will be disappointed by this weirdy, spaced-out experimental work.

It contains but seven tracks, although three of them are over ten minutes in duration, including the eighteen-minute opener ‘A Life of its Own’, which was unveiled as the album’s lead single a couple of weeks ago. And here, Cinema Cinema push further still than on their previous album, with those seven tracks bleeding together to forge one, vast continuous piece.

It begins tentatively, with tremulous, trilling woodwind and some scratchy strumming. Sounds echo and reverberate and voices mumble in a blurred, slowed, hallucinated state that’s most unsettling, and slowly transitions from some shilled, chiming new-age desert vibe into an increasingly bad trip as unintelligible jabbering spits and slurs angrily against the warping backdrop and swelling percussion – and that’s before the crazed jazz horns begin to bray and parp.

There are definite ebbs and flows, but not necessarily correspondent with the transitions between the tracks, and ponderous guitar and trepidatious woodwind teeter precariously through ‘Continued’, which is less of a piece in its own right than a bridge toward the nine-minute ‘Bratislava’. Guitars scrape and the drums stutter and test the waters and levels, and it actually sounds like a band checking their levels between songs during a live show than anything. There are some exploratory post-rock moments, but they’re fleeting, and even when the rhythm section finds a groove, it’s but for a short time and ultimately frustrating and unsatisfying, chopping and changing in a mathy fashion – which is fine in itself, but for the lack of a resolution, a crescendo, a finish. Instead, it peters out and squeaks and toots into the next piece.

The trilling woodwind – pan-pipes or similar – are all over the meandering piece and while the percussion rolls, the guitar is pegged back to providing mere texture, and there is no question that the band have shunned pretty much all ‘rock’ trappings here. The raspy, chthonic vocal whispering and manic hollering returns, before it trickles down into ‘Crack of Dawn’ with its stop / start arrhythmic percussion, hovering drones and eerie formlessness.

It’s not until the penultimate track that we get power chords. There is silence, briefly, before ‘Trigger’, which is unexpectedly led by a stop/start drum and hesitant bass groove that eventually emerges as a core motif. Imagine Shellac with brass instead of vocals, and you probably get the idea. It locks into a motoric krautrock groove – but that freewheeling wild horn action is something else. It brings chaos, it brings discord, riding wild all over some wild improv.

CCXMDII isn’t an easy album, and it’s not the punk or guitar-led set some may have expected. But it is a bold, daring work, one that sees a band who don’t give a fuck about conventions or expectations demonstrating that lack of fucks musically. Every band says they’re making music for themselves, but hardly any mean it. These guys do. CCXMDII is also a wonderfully odd abstract soundscapes that drifts and meanders and entertains and perplexes. CCXMDII is the work of a band in continual evolution, and long may that evolution continue.

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Pilgrimage of the Soul is the 11th studio album in the 22-year career of Japanese experimental rock legends, MONO set for release on 17th September (Pelagic Records)

Recorded and mixed – cautiously, anxiously, yet optimistically – during the height of the COVID- 19 pandemic in the summer of 2020, with one of the band’s longtime partners, Steve Albini, Pilgrimage of the Soul is aptly named as it not only represents the peaks and valleys where MONO are now as they enter their third decade, but also charts their long, steady journey to this time and place.

Continuing the subtle but profound creative progression in the MONO canon that began with Nowhere Now Here (2019), Pilgrimage of the Soul is the most dynamic MONO album to date (and that’s saying a lot). But where MONO’s foundation was built on the well-established interplay of whisper quiet and devastatingly loud, Pilgrimage of the Soul crafts its magic with mesmerising new electronic instrumentation and textures, and – perhaps most notably – faster tempos that are clearly influenced by disco and techno. It all galvanizes as the most unexpected MONO album to date – replete with surprises and as awash in splendor as anything this band has ever done.

MONO began in Japan at the end of the 20th Century as a young band equally inspired by the pioneers of moody experimental rock (My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai) and iconic Classical composers (Beethoven, Morricone) who came before them. They have evolved into one of the most inspiring and influential experimental rock bands in their own right. It is only fitting that their evolution has come at the glacial, methodical pace that their patient music demands. MONO is a band who puts serious value in nuance, and offers significant rewards for the wait.

Watch the music video for first single ‘Riptide’, a film by Alison Group now:

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Bearsuit Records – 25th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Home of all things odd from Edinburgh and Japan, Bearsuit Records, has a new signing, in the form of Edinburgh-based singer/songwriter Eamon the Destroyer. Eamon also records as Annie & The Station Orchestra, and is one half of Edinburgh purveyors of noise Ageing Children, both of whom have received mentions here. If his name has the hallmarks of a mythical war deity or some evil comic book character, his music is altogether less megalomaniacally threatening. The press blub describes it as ‘lo-fi miserablism with a side order of noise / mumbling & whispering – or something’ – and on hearing these two tracks, which serve as a lead-in to Eamon’s debut album, A Small Blue Car – this vagueness makes perfect sense. And, of course, like most Bearsuit releases, it’s about the only thing that does.

It’s rather welcome to see a release that resembles a conventional A-side / B-side single release in 2021, and what’s noteworthy about this one is that the two tracks are actually quite similar, sonically and stylistically, leaving no confusion as to what the Destroyer’s sound is.

Against a minimalist backdrop of quite country guitars, the Destroyer croaks flatly about, well, what, I’m not entirely sure – every line seems to turn on a contradiction or some bathetic construction, like ‘Nobody knows it / well nobody ought to’. Instrumentally, it’s sparse and scratchy, and the vocals sound like they’re coming from a CB radio that’s only just tuned to the edge of the channel. But in the mix there’s a scrape and chatter of extraneous background noise and some cronky feedback, and around the mid-point of ‘My Drive’ it takes a massive left turn into altogether louder territory.

The whole vibe is downbeat and melancholy, and driving emerges as a theme in ‘Silver Shadow’, alongside some vague but wistful images that drift around in a wash of sad, Cure-esque synth and a crashing tide of distortion. It’s more mood-affecting than you would likely expect, and while very much appreciating the unusual mix, it left me feeling downcast and slightly sad, which is a clear indication that either I’m heading for a mood slump, or there’s more craftsmanship to Eamon’s songs than the surface suggests.

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CD Unsounds 68U – 15th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

No-one plays guitar quite like Andy Moor. Renowned for his work with purveyors of expansive and exploratory avant-jazz The Ex, Moor’s solo work takes that guitar work from a collectivist, band setting, where it’s a part of a conglomeration of instruments, and places it directly under the spotlight.

As the liner notes explain, Safe Piece is an exploration of the question of parenting while maintaining an artistic practice. Choreographer Valentina Campora, who initiated the project, began testing the possibility of dancing onstage with her baby as an experiment. The project became a series of 8 performances where Campora performed with the baby for a small public. Andy Moor, father of the child and Campora’s partner, accompanied and gave a sonic context to this experiment. Each performance was filmed by visual artist Isabelle Vigier for the video Safe Piece (a film).

Tye tracks sequencing is segmented in a way that perhaps make more sense in context of the filmed pieces. There are three themed chapters, if you will, pieced together in chunks – but identifying any specific thematic unity that connects them is difficult. Moor moves between single-string pings and frenetic fretwork. But for the most part, this is sparse and lugubrious downturned fret buzzing notes slumping down like a machine winding down as the batteries run down or clockwork unwinds to a crawl. There’s some growling, gut-churning low-end that provides substantial contrast with the nagging of the picked top notes. There’s fret-buzz and warped, slashing chord chanking, stuttering stop/start shudders and jarring , jolting unmusic, that’s uncomfortable at times – not just a bit awkward, but fully squirm-inducing, setting the nerve-endings of the teeth on edge.

Across the album’s thirteen pieces, Moor’s minimal style that centres around scratching and scraping and all other kinds of angular guitar abrasions are front and centre. Discord and atonality are his signatures – but at the same time, he conjures myriad moments of fractured musicality. Hums and thrums and crunches crash through picked chord sequences and segments that sound like tuning up and down in frantic search of the note and not quite finding it.

Safety is paramount, but Music For Safe Piece brings a cognitive dissonance that’s difficult to process in places. But we know that comfort is overrated, and that art should proffer challenges, and Music For Safe Piece brings plenty.

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Bam Balam Records –12th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Two names to conjure with collided live in Tokyo on 14th March 2019, with sprawling psychedelic masters Acid Mothers Temple coming together once more, a full decade after the release of the live album Underdogg Express in 2009, with the founder of the legendary Krautrock band Guru Guru. ‘A fiery psychedelic collaboration recorded in the spirit of early Guru Guru’ ensued.

Edited neatly into four tracks – two per side of vinyl – it’s being released on limited edition vinyl for the French ‘Disquaire Day’ June 2021 (French Record Store Day 2021).

In recent years, I’ve come to despise Record Store day: after all, a record store is for life, not just for RSD, and the whole thing reeks of exploitation, from the retail prices being set as a level that means stores themselves make next to nothing from any sales, many fans are priced out – assuming they aren’t geographically advantaged – and then they’re shafted once more when those who had both the benefit of cash and location resell at even more exorbitant prices. Yes, one could discus free markets and supply and demand and how buyers choose to pay those prices – and I personally choose not to – but ultimately, a lot of the fun has gone out of it since the early years.

It doesn’t help that RSD has been swamped by reissues by major labels, meaning completists and hardcore collectors of some very popular acts are climbing over to buy new editions of old records, and none of them really give a fuck about independent stores, labels, or artists.

In this context, this release is a welcome one. It’s also a good one, and finds the collaborators veering from wildly chaotic and discordant free-jazz to muted, atmospheric ambience, with the fifteen-minute ‘Electric Junk’ spanning both, and beyond, exploding as it does into a searing proggy / post-rock crescendo in the closing couple of minutes.

‘The Next Time You See the Dalai Llama’ is built around a cyclical motif that whirls like a kaleidoscope over a throbbing reception of pounding drums and bass that lock into a relentless groove for the first four of is nine minutes. The title track closes with a mash-up of classic rock and wild desert psych, with some wild guitar work going fret crazy over an insistent, monotonous bass groove and thumping percussion that pounds and crashes relentlessly, and it even get on quite a swagger and swings into a full strolling jazz workout in the second half.

Tokugoya doesn’t bring any real surprises, and is, really, exactly what you’d expect – but then it doesn’t disappoint… although its limited availability might (but there is still a CD version).

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5th June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The only way to remain sane through all of this madness is to embrace it, or at least some of it. Then again, ( kröter ) have been ahead of the curve in the madness stakes for some time, as the conveyor-belt of releases over the last couple of years have shown, since they were all culled from some epic sessions around 2018.

*f is their third album of 2021, and the sixth album to be culled from these sessions. Remarkably, rather than a random collection of offcuts and flow-sweepings, it contains some of the most outstanding material yet, and one has to wonder how much did they actually record?

They’ve spent a lot of time sifting through the material and chopping it into tracks and sequencing them into albums – with varying degrees of cohesion – but as they note, ‘as usual, there are no second takes in this pond. All is nutritious, spiraling and slowly growing legs.’ These legs are long and hairy, and the sprawling eleven-minute ‘Trajectory’ is a dingy, dirgy grind dominated by a crunchy, dirty bass groove and plodding beat. It’s kinda post-punk, kinda no-wave, kinda noise-rock, and if there are moments when Mr Vast’s vocals hint at a Jim Morrison-esque swagger, the whole thing reminds me most of Terminal Cheesecake, for those who can handle an obscure reference point.

‘The Letter’ is swampy, minimal, meandering, while ‘The Rock’, another low-oscillating slab of dark industrial-leaning synth is propelled by clattering percussion and features snarling, growling manic vocals. Vast is a versatile vocalist, even if on this set his delivery isn’t particularly angled towards melody, as he drones and yelps and drawls and yowls all kinds of atonality over repetitive electronic grooves.

It all comes together on the eighteen-minute ‘casper hauser in the mirror’, a thumping, humping, ketamine-paced motoric industrial jazz odyssey. Vast sounds utterly deranged as his voice wanders lost, aimless, as he half speaks, shouts, raps and yawns out abstract lyrics that drift out in a drift of reverb. Again, around the six minute mark, it sounds like Kraftwerk fronted by Jim Morrison circa LA Woman, and yes, it’s a pretty fucked-up experience, and the atmosphere is not only intense, but also dizzying, bewildering in its hypnotic pull. It transports the listener to another place, out of mind if not out of body, conjuring an almost trance-like experience. It may be some kind of woozy, weirdy, hippy shit, but it’s also affecting. There’s much to be said for the power of repetition, and this just goes on, and on… and on. It’s not nightmarish as such, but it is trippy and disorientating.

This is a fair summary of the album as a whole: *f really does pack in the weird shit, and if the initial tone is one of quirky, oddball fun, the overarching experience is rather darker. The disorientation it creates is less kaleidoscopic joy and more the nausea of excess, and a kind of unsettled bewilderment. ( kröter ) depart from Hunter S. Thompson’s adage that when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro, and instead forge their own path, whereby when the going gets weird, the weird gets even weirder, and a few shades darker, too. Which is cool, because who wants their weirdness to be predictable, after all?

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Empty Quarter – 1st June 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

The latest instalment in the reissue series of albums by oddballs Photographed by Lightning is something of a departure from its predecessors – but then, each album marks a different departure, and if one thing this contemporary appraisal of their back catalogue highlights is that they never stated still or retrod ground, which each release existing in a completely different realm from those which came before.

Recorded in 2002 and released in 2004 and considered by the band to perhaps be their strangest offering (and it’s got some tough competition), it lists as its inspirations the works of Kenji Siratori, Friedrich Nietzsche, Suehiro Mauro, Georges Bataille, J G Ballard. I’m often particularly intrigued when a band’s citations are literary, or otherwise non-musical, perhaps because in some respects, while there is naturally much crossover between all creative disciplines, literary influences tend to be more cerebral, ideas or concept-based over sonic. When a bands say they’re influenced by Led Zeppelin, you can probably hear certain stylistic elements in the composition: but you’re not going to hear elements of Ballard in the guitar technique of any band – although with a substantial catalogue of releases to his credit, Kenji Siratori is a notable exception to the rule, particularly as the experimental Japanese polyartist’s forays into extreme electronica and harsh noise in the vein of Merzbow actually do very much resemble his literary works also as a brain—shredding sensory overload.

This is certainly a fair summary of the experience of this album: the title track, a mere intro at under two minutes, is a blend of scratchy, synthy noise with extraneous elements collaged here and there.

‘The Embryo Hunts in Secret’ and ‘Putrid Night’ are both a sort of psychedelic new wave collision, and with the wandering basslines that veer up, down, and everywhere amidst treble-soaked chaos, the effect is disorientating dissonant, as if everything is slowly melting or collapsing in on itself. Everything is murky, dingy, kinda distant-sounding and discordant. Take ‘Kundalini Butterly’ – a spiralling kaleidoscopic mess or scrawling feedback and a bass that sounds like an angry bee bouncing around inside an upturned glass, coming on like Dr Mix covering Cabaret Voltaire’s ‘Nag Nag Nag’.

Blood Music is noisy, but it’s not straight-ahead guitars noisy: instead, it’s a mangled menage of bits and bobs hurled together – not clumsily, but then, not delicately, either, with pulsing washes of rhythm throbbing and crashing all around. It gets weirder and darker as they plunge into ‘My Hole’, where the bass bubbles and throbs beneath a continuous stream of trilling distortion, synth whistles and wails, and there’s a lot of overloading, whupping distortion that derails the helicotoptoring synths and froth and foam that sloshes around at the lower end of the sonic spectrum. ‘Dark Sun’ goes kind of industrial with a hefty, thunking beat, with a relentless, distorted snare, low-slung, booming bass and heavily treated vocals, and there’s chaotic piano all over the place: the emphasis is very much on the dark here.

Dave Mitchell’s lyrics are, we’re led to believe, to have been inspired by whatever he was reading, but buried low in the mix, bathed in reverb and given a grating metallic edge, he sounds like a malfunctioning Dalek chanting incantations. To be clear, that’s by no means a criticism.

Final track, ‘Frame’ is more overtly ambient, but dark, with a certain industrial hue as it shifts to pound out a relentless beat against braying sax and a whirlpool of aural chaos: I’m not about to suggest that PBL were going through any kind of NIN phase, but there are hints of parallels with The Fragile in places here.

Everything about Blood Music is seemingly designed to challenge, to present the music in the least accessible way possible – and it’s far from accessible to begin with, for the most part. The dark density of the sound is heavy, and there’s something quite deranged about the album as a whole, in a way that’s hard to define… but deranged it is. Which seems a pretty fitting summary of the band’s catalogue as a whole: the only thing you can really predict is their unpredictability.

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Stone Giants – the new alias of electronic musician Amon Tobin – shares the third and final single "A Year To The Day" from the debut album West Coast Love Stories, arriving 2nd July on his Nomark label.

“Your phone cheerfully recalls where you were this time last year. What executive committee decided it would be a good idea to have moments from your past randomly intrude on your present day? Memories you’ve either, carefully compartmentalized or buried so safe and deep you daren’t scroll through your photo history. Now at any moment you can be ambushed by an algorithmically generated montage of your most fragile memories set to music. It’s like an AI Psy-Op designed to send us into some kind of spiralling despair.” – Amon Tobin

Listen to ‘A Year to the Day’ here:

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Mongkong Music – mkng-01

Digital release date: 4th June 2021 / Physical release date: 4th July 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

Having been introduced to the world of microtonal experimentation around a decade ago, I’ve found a certain fascination in those close lenses on the most minute of details – the musical equivalent of peering through a microscope and seeing objects and life forms on a granular, even cellular level. I’ve also learned that anything that can be rendered or viewed from a micro level, it’s probably been done, or otherwise is within someone’s sites to do, or I simply haven’t found it yet. Take, for example, the ensemble Microtub – not a small bath, but a trio of microtonal tubas.

Mycrotom is not a microtonal tom drum, nor a microtonal extension of the work of the Vegetable Orchestra (a ten-piece collective based in Vienna who make music using instruments crafted from actual fresh vegetables). In fact, the moniker is somewhat misleading, for as the press release notes, ‘Tom Simonetti alias mycrotom has created rather large-format sound carpets in the Bertolt Brecht mechanical engineering city of Augsburg. He now presents the same: soundscapes on which you can go out of work and walk away.’

So, it’s actually about sound carpets. I have to confess that I chuckled a little on reading that, before reminding myself of my own habit of describing works as ‘sonic tapestries’ and going into detail about the ‘fabric’ of numerous compositions – and that was before I listened to the album.

The pieces are built on interesting juxtapositions – sparse motoric beats click metronomically through gloopy synth basslines that could have been lifted off early 80s electro cuts on Wax Trax! while xylophone-type chimes ring out lilting motifs. Extraneous sounds are looped to forge unusual rhythms, and there’s a muddy, murky aspect to the sound that makes it difficult to separate the different elements.

Many of the synth sounds are vintage in style, squelchy, thick, fuzzy-edged, and while the arrangements are sparse, the effect is far from minimalist: there’s quite some density to the sound, and what’s more, a lot of Ratoratiyo pursues quite danceable grooves, and with a hybrid of 90s minimalism and 80s robotix, it feels completely removed from anything human.

‘Logic by Machine’ contains human voices – sampled, distanced, detached – against a sparse, rhythmic loop. It’s anything but comforting, and leaves one feeling even further adrift, alienated. It’s a strange experience that twists at the cognitive filters in unexpected ways. After all, none of the elements are new or particularly unusual – but their assemblage is, and in ways that are difficult to place a finger on. And it’s that difficulty of placement that lies at the heart of the challenge for a listener. You ask yourself ‘how does this fit with my experience?’ and ‘where do I belong in all of this?’ There are no handholds or footholds in terms of emotional resonance, in terms of experience. And precisely what does this convey? The sounds may be warm, but the experience is somehow cold, with a sense of separation.

It’s from this place of distance, a position of removal, isolation, that we begin to explore the spaces of Ratoratiyo, and the exploratory adventure begins.

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CD Epicentre Editions EPI-2101

Christopher Nosnibor

It’s testament to his degree of innovation and influence that John Cage’s works remain a source of fascination for so many almost 30 years after his death. Few composers have reached across so many fields, let alone a composer as radical and overtly experimental. But Cage singlehandedly broke all the ground, especially when it came to exploring elements of the random, of the relationship between the performance and the audience, and of incorporating strands of philosophy into the creative process.

This recording of Variations VII is very much an unadulterated document of a specific event, best detailed in the liner notes:

Variations VII was created by John Cage to be performed at a special event, 9 Evenings, Theatre & Engineering, held from 13th to 23rd October 1966 in New York and in which a team of engineers, led by Billy Klüver, worked with ten artists from the American “avant-garde”, with the aim of enabling them to extend their exploration of the possibilities of electronics in their own art. Here is how John Cage described this piece in the programme for the event:

« It is a piece of music, Variations VII, indeterminate in form and detail, making use of the sound system which has been devised collectively for this festival, further making use of modulation means organized by David Tudor, using as sound sources only those sounds which are in the air at the moment of performance, picked up via the communication bands, telephone lines, microphones together with, instead of musical instruments, a variety of household appliances, and frequency generators. »

And so ‘Intro’ is four minutes of audience chatter, a throng of conversations, all in French, over and across one another. It may feel superfluous to some, but in so many ways, it’s integral to the experience. It not only captures the moments before the performance as it happened, but also transports the listener there, and reminds us that this is not a studio work, designed to capture some kind of perfect realisation of the piece for all time. There is no trickery or manipulation after the fact: this is a live performance, in front of a live audience, something that happened in the moment, and the moment is all there is, and the life of the piece is tied to that specific moment. And then, there is the fact that Variations VII is, effectively, about chatter.

Crackles of static, whistles and whines rent the air as the performance begins; the sound of radio dials turning, tuning in, finding – or failing to find – the right wavelength. Hums, hisses, and snippets of conversations, fragments of music. Whups and whirs, shill shards of feedback and blizzards of white noise emerge from a myriad pieces of sound, booming yawns of interference all criss-crossing over one another in a disorienting real-time sonic collage. Machines grind, babies cry, there are explosive, thunderous blasts of distortion, It’s like walking down a busy street, hearing pieces of conversation, radios blaring from cars, engines revving, and the parallels with William Burroughs’ cut-up technique, for those familiar, are clear. This replicates the experience of life in real-time, and real-time experience is not linear, but simultaneous: a plane flies overhead and you catch sight of an advertisement, and a reflection of a face in a shop window while conducting a conversation, and all around, other people conduct their own conversations…

The mechanics of it are complex and ambitious, but also typical of Cage’s approach to composition:

‘Ten telephone lines connected to the sounds of ten different locations in New York City. History has taught us that one of the first uses of the telephone at the end of the 19th century was, besides transporting voices, the live re-transmission of concert performances of opera. A few privileged listeners could therefore listen to the music in their own homes. Several decades later, John Cage reversed this, so to speak, by inviting the sounds of several distant environments into the concert venue!’

And so it is that the 1966 piece was performed live once more on August 15th, 2020 at the festival Le Bruit de la Musique. The performance lasts for an hour and eight minutes, during which time we’re subjected to a bewildering array of sounds, unconnected, disparate, all completely independent of one another, uncoordinated, random, haphazard and hither and thither. It’s a bewildering experience: not a lot happens, but at the same time, everything happens, a lot of it simultaneously. For the duration of the performance, the spell remains unbroken. For some reason that I really can’t explain, I find myself sitting, ears pricked, on tenterhooks, listening out for details. Towards the end, a blitzkrieg of overlapping extranea build to a tempestuous tumult of harsh noise that sounds like Throbbing Gristle a whole decade before their conception. And as it gradually tapers down, a cough from the audience cuts through the quiet – but it’s not quite finished. We wait, on edge.

Suddenly, there is silence.

Only when the performance ends is the tension broken.

There is a pause, a few seconds of uncertainty, before the applause breaks. There are a few whoops, but mostly, it’s polite. Enthusiastic, but polite. There is no chatter now. One suspects that having witnessed this – bearing in mind that it’s 1966 – many would have been simply stunned of vocabulary. The era may have been accustomed to all kinds of newness, all kinds of shocking, taboo-breaking art, but this…?

Variations VII hasn’t dated, and not lonely does it still sound contemporary, it remains incredibly relevant: if anything, its relevance is greater in 2021 than it was in 1966, perfectly recreating the experience of total media and sensory overload. Never mind The Beatles, here’s John Cage.