Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Listening Session: Mountains, Choral

I've been listening to this album way too much. The simple answer as to why, on an aesthetic level, is I find most of it beautiful despite the lack of melody or harmony or rhythm or other conventional aspects associated with beautiful music. Instead the album is full of electronic drones, the plinking of a synthesizer, strummed notes on a guitar that go nowhere, and the occasional clattering of objects--glasses or bells, maybe? Hardly stuff that should grab your attention for 50 minutes. But perhaps that's what's so alluring about it. I suspect there's a psychological reason for why this album's been on my turntable as much as it has (admittedly we're on shaky ground here). Because the album lacks all musical convention, it works as pure sensation. There's nothing to filter or process here. Listening to the sculptural sounds on Choral offers an immediacy in experience that's rare these days.

In our times, we're constantly bombarded by chatter--the chatter on 24-hour cable news, the chatter on the blogosphere and the rest of the internet, the chatter of stupid sit-coms, the chatter at work that inflates the importance of work, the chatter of singers who really have nothing important to say, the chatter on the radio, the chatter of gossipers and do-gooders. This album is chatter-free. It even frees us from minor and major chord progressions that push our emotional buttons. We've been conditioned. We're constantly processing verbal and non-verbal information. This album, for me at least, just stops that mechanical processing. It's a liberating experience. Nothing is rushed on the album. There's space. There are subtle sonic shifts, like the way the light changes when a cloud passes by.

So I say, get high or inebriated or just free your mind for a while and experience the sonic wash of Choral on a stereo that can envelope you or on headphones.

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