“It’s a one bedroom flat,” I hear myself bark down the phone. “It’s got less than average furniture but more than average CDs and records. There’ll be a lot of boxes,” I warned him. The removal man insisted that his standard Luton Van would do it; never in 20 years of business had a one bedroom flat’s contents not fitted into it. The day arrives, and Fergus the removal man’s jaw drops. “Oi don’t feckin’ believe this…”
Philip Sherburne’s moving epiphany about selling half his record collection (The Wire 259) has in the last week become distressingly relevant to me. I’ve just moved abode and the new place is brimming with unpacked boxes. Unlike Philip, I didn’t have the hear t to get rid of much, even duplicates (“that Finnish drone CD-R might make a nice Christmas present for someone”) or the still shrinkwrapped Ambient compilation from 1994. After two runs and more Irish swear words than I’d ever heard or care to remember, the lovingly packed boxes are now sitting menacingly in the silent darkness of my new home. They have star ted to feel like huge burdens – the physicality of them: the job of unpacking, of setting up shelves, but also the singular fact that I might not have as many hours left in my life as these discs contain. They are hidden now, and I’m overcome with an over whelming sense that they might not matter – like Philip’s father’s deathbed revelation about his granite collection.
Some people pay to attend a silent meditation retreat. It’s the paradox of urban life: striving so hard to cram it all in that people will actually pay to shut up and listen for a week.
This issue maps out various versions of silences and retreats. Multi-instrumentalist Mark Wastell, who spends his days running Nor th London’s improvised music sanctuar y Sound 323, reveals the networks behind the New London Silence, Reductionism, lower case Improv and other labels his par ticular brand of detailed micro-creation has been pinned down with. This hyperactive London scene of formidable improvisors suppor ts a whole cottage industr y spun around delicate sonic manoeuvres whose use of silence as a musical component amounts to poetr y.
Eliane Radigue, whose long, sustained ‘sonorous propositions’ (her words) transcend both musical and clock time, explains how Tibetan Buddhism informs her tranced psychoacoustic compositions. Given her background as assistant to Pierre Schaeffer and Pierre Henr y, her understated humour and ear thy attitude to her work (“a bit like knitting”) is a joy to read. In fact, one of the CDs I sorely miss right now is her
Trilogie De La Mor t (XI), whose magical dronescape hangs spellbindingly in the air like a thin veil – one of my favourite pieces of music.
This month’s cover stars Boards Of Canada map out another angle on isolationism in their first face to face inter view in years. Huddled in East Lothian in Scotland, they explain the impor tance of purity in music, along with the desire to remain outside any sor t of scene, to focus on the imaginar y world of their music in solitude.
Here I need to announce my own temporar y retreat – to what will undoubtedly soon become a ver y real world consisting of nappy changing and baby sick. There has been a baby swimming inside me for nine months now and is currently raring to get out. While I take a trip to the foreign land that is Kiddistan, longstanding contributor Louise Gray will take the deputy editor’s chair until I’m ready to return to the familiar and beloved countr y that is The Wire HQ. I’ll spend the last days of self-imposed silence looking for soothing frequencies in domestic appliances; and perhaps Eno’s Apollo can simulate the muffled womb sounds my baby is listening to now. Come to think of it, I could cut straight to the chase and dig out “Push It” by Salt N’ Pepa. Au revoir. ANNE HILDE NESET
W I R E
Adventures In Modern Music Issue 260 October 2005 £3.80 ISSN 0952-0680 (USPS 006231)
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