After the apocalypse, all recorded music will be dusty and damaged. Tapes will be worn and stretched. Vinyl will be warped. Discs will be cracked. The remaining sounds will be muddled, distorted, diffused, existing only as fragmented works and unamplified grooves. These last dregs of music will seem like unearthed treasures, transformed through obsolescence and wear. In the last minutes of Last Dregs, a cowbell plays a turntable, a reversed answer to Christopher Walken’s diagnosis. The music is sweeter because it is lost.
James Edmonds‘ piece is an improvised requiem, recorded on discarded equipment and then digitally repositioned. One draws in the breath, ready to blow off the cobwebs. If the world is really to end, and any human remains, this is how salvage might sound. The clicks and clanks may represent the materials involved; scavengers attempting to use media without the help of directions, turning the turntable upside down, twirling the plug, tightening the drooped belt. Dust, static, spark, surprise.
In the gurgles, our descendants may hear lost civilizations. They may hear nonsense. An ancient culture is an alien culture. Will future generations believe these sounds, wonder that we called this music? Or will they understand that the original sources have been transmuted? Either way, Last Dregs will be their scouting party’s prize, and while we wait for civilization to disintegrate, it may serve as ours as well. (Richard Allen)