Saturday, November 11, 2006

Joy in Repetition

Earlier this evening, I was looking through my cds, and I noticed a white, paper-bound set, just after the Alva.Noto/Ryuichi Sakamoto collaborations. I couldn't remember what it was, so I pulled it out. Ah yes. Mort aux Vaches. Two cds of electronic music from Alva.Noto, Signal, Komet, and Byetone.... It never was entirely clear to me what the story was with the different Mort aux Vaches releases. They appear to have been special limited edition showcases of artists from other labels, in this case raster-noton. Like a lot of the releases on the boutique electronic labels, the packaging on these was often very entertaining. The one I have is no different: it's two cds, inside heavy, folded white paper (the only color being black ink, indicating that mine was supposedly number 292 of the 1000 made), with raised lettering for liner notes. The cds are held in place with a metal fastener, poked through the folded paper, and through the holes in each cd, the metal bent back on the other side.

I was again delighted by the silly packaging, so I opened it, and was reminded of how precarious the placement of the cds is. The cds fell out into my hands, and I noticed right away that disc 2 had what appeared to be a pretty egregious scratch, straight from the inner circle to the edge of the disc. And now I was somewhat irritated. Granted, it had obviously been a few years since I'd even been aware of owning the set, but here I had a cd I'd no doubt spent far too much money on (limited edition import?) and had probably only listened to once, and now there was a good chance it might be unplayable. Expecting the worst, I placed it into the cd player and pressed play. It seemed ok to start with. And then I was drawn into the music. Clean, electronic tones. Blips and squirts, and sounds like drops of water, along with occasional swells and bass. Very minimal, but not just static. Painterly. Beautiful, really. I was happy I had this cd, and happier still that it seemed ok.

I had to do something upstairs for a while, but I left the cd playing, even though I couldn't hear it very well. After some time, we noticed that we could hear the same tone repeating over and over again, and for several minutes. I said, "You know, I have to admit that I can't say offhand if this cd is supposed to sound like this, or if it's finally started to skip..." I went downstairs and checked it. I yelled up, "You know what's awesome?" "Let me guess; it's not skipping," came the reply. "It's totally not skipping. That's cool," I said. "That's one word for it," she said.

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