Want to get something in your earholes that is equal parts eerie, uplifting and foreboding? Then look no further than Kenji Kawai’s Utai IV.
It was written by Kenji for the 1995 Japanese Anime classic, Ghost in the Shell. The film was remade recently and picked up a lot of criticism for white-washing (plus being generally a bit crap). In the same way, this iconic track was butchered by Steve Aoki – he brought some completely unwelcome bro-step energy to it and the whole thing was a mess.
Anyway, I hope you enjoy it in its full, unadulterated glory.
What do you know, it’s my second ever sound-art post! This one also came onto my radar through Radiolab (one for you Podcast heads).
Right, so first up, this music is just an achingly beautiful ambient composition. To quote Pitchfork, “It’s the kind of music that makes you believe there is a Heaven, and that this is what it must sound like.” Wave upon wave of sound envelopes everything around you, dissolving space and time. Get the right soundsysem set-up and it is honestly stunning.
But there’s more. The story of these pieces is even more heart-breakingly beautiful than the music itself. In the 80s WB created a bunch of tape loops from processed snatches of music captured from an easy listening station. Fast forward to around 2000 and he is in the process of digitising his collection – but each time the tape plays it disintegrates a little more, with the decay of the tape making the music itself decay. Each tape begins with a simple repeated melody which melts away with each repetition. As the physical tape decays, so the sound decays.
So far so good right? But wait, there’s more. Shortly after he completed the work, he was playing it to some friends in his Brooklyn apartment, when 9/11 happened. At dusk he filmed the smouldering rubble of Manhattan, and set the music to it. It has become an iconic elegy. Pure devastation, and utter serenity.
Every Sunday I am going to bring you something a little more downtempo to ease you back into the world.
Okay, so, today, something extremely different.
This is less song, more sound-art. To a lot of people, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is pretty instantly recognisable. Artist Leif Inge took the composition (which normally lasts 70 minutes) and stretched it to last a full 24 hours without any distortion of pitch. What results is in an incredibly cinematic piece, with unimaginably deep texture and nuance. If you want to switch off, or go to another mental plane, this should be your soundtrack.
Part 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I-EGtq6vVHY
Part 3: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQfa-I6Gczc
Part 4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0-OC8yo0f0
Part 5: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfBZeAQ-Vt0