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Showing posts from 2020

A Song From Under the Floorboards - Susan Philipsz – Muffled Drums

Philadelphia Contemporary
Everything was falling apart by the time I settled down to listen to Muffled Drums, Susan Philipsz’ new four-part digital sound installation, available to stream on the Philadelphia Contemporary website. No, not the big wide world outside that’s fallen prey to the mass destructive powers of the Covid-19 pandemic and the enforced global lockdown that followed. Nor the pains of confinement that go hand in disposable plastic glove with the enforced isolation that goes with it.
I’m talking about the actual everyday material wear and tear of domestic fixtures and fittings that were starting to take the strain from me being indoors too much. Where normally we’d have time apart as I took advantage of having the freedom of the city, now, other than my state-sanctioned daily constitutional, the furniture and I are pretty much cooped up 24/7, and we’re all feeling the strain.
It was the wind that did it, the weekend just past when it swooped in from the west or wherever …

Listen to This – The Great John Cage Project – in Lockdown

When John Cage first conceived his composition, 4’33”, he couldn’t have predicted how the pandemic-enforced lockdown we’re currently living in would inadvertently create the perfect environment for it to be heard. 4’33”, after all, is arguably the American composer’s most taboo-busting piece of all-embracing zen, in which musicians or performers studiously don’t play their instruments for the time outlined by the title, while the rest of the world ebbs and flows around them.
Often misunderstood as a ‘silent’ composition, 4’33” is more akin to a form of environmental sound art. Here, the sounds of the natural world are captured in what amounts to a fleeting pause for thought that democratises the experience for both listener and artist.
This is something John Wills has taken a chance on for his independently produced podcast, The Great John Cage Project – in Lockdown. Now five editions in, Wills’ self-produced initiative has seen him present a series of recordings collected from all ove…