Julien Demoulin had proposed compiling an ‘infinity mix’ of long form compositions and album length tracks, playing with the idea of an impractically long mix but also implicitly suggesting competing timescales. Though this mix was ready weeks ago, sorting out technical issues delayed this post for quite a while. Soundcloud limits files to 6 hours and 45 minutes, and so The Long Now was edited down to fit this length exactly. Mixcloud doesn’t have a limit on length, but restricts file sizes to a maximum of 500 MB. As such, we decided to split the mix into two parts rather than sacrifice the bitrate so extremely. I think this struggle and our requisite compromises underscore this series’ commitment to exploring new territory with our mixes and not just offering casual playlists in an already overcrowded blogosphere. In the last 30 months we’ve brought you 50 mixes from some truly talented artists, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how this series has progressed. Thank you to all our past present future listeners.
Julien is the core member of the group Silencio, a music project dedicated to ambient and electro-acoustic music exploring themes such as absence, memory, distance and sleep. Initially a solo project begun in 2002, Julien has augmented Silencio with the addition of a variety of musicians since their 2004 debut LP. Julien strives to avoid repeating himself by exploring new concepts with each record. At present, Silencio consists of Julien and Bernold Delgoda. Since 2011, Julien has also released a number of releases that don’t fit under the umbrella of Silencio under his own name and in collaboration with others.
Silencio recently released a new single, including an unreleased track drawn from the sessions from their last album as well as an alternative version of a track from the album.
Regarding The Long Now, Julien states that “This mix, quite obviously, calls for another perception of time, and of musical time and the expectations we consciously or unconsciously associate with it. Press play in the morning and then go about your day, or use it as the soundtrack to a sleepless night or night of work… or, you know, just play it and listen while doing nothing else for 9 hours if that’s your kind of thing.”
When Julien first proposed doing a 9 hour mix, I couldn’t help but position the concept within a broader framework of pieces dealing with extended durations, a theme that reoccurs throughout the history of experimental and avant-garde music.
The composer La Monte Young and his partner, light artist Miriam Zazeela, have released a very small body of recorded work, and as such the recordings which do exist emphasize the durational and ongoing aspect of their long form pieces. Young’s recorded works are described as excerpts of ongoing performative works, so for instance The Well-Tuned Piano in The Magenta Lights (87 V 10 6:43:00 PM 87 V 11 01:07:45 AM NYC). Conversely, free jazz and free improv more generally are known for their prolific release schedules, which deemphasizes the importance of any given recording so that the primacy remains on the live performance itself.
John Cage, who was an important catalyst in Young’s ways of thinking, explored extended time scales himself with Organ²/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible). Cage’s piece is about duration of a performative work, but one that also problematizes our conception of what constitutes a performer, an audience, and a work itself. An ongoing performance of the work at St. Burchardi church in Halberstadt, Germany that began in 2001 is scheduled to have a duration of 640 years, ending in 2640. Cage was known for taking his concepts to the extreme, and so in a fitting tribute to his legacy this post-humus realization will be the longest musical performance in history.
Changing capacities of playback media have influenced formal elements of popular music that are often mistaken as merely aesthetic choices. The 3-minute pop song emerged in response to the limitations of the medium of the 45, and only later took on added significance. There is nothing ‘natural’ or necessary about it. A full-length album used to be dictated by the confines of the LP at 33 rpm record. The length of a full-length record gradually grew longer with the additional capacity of the CD, which was allegedly designed according to the wishes of a SONY executive to listen to Beethoven’s Ninth in one sitting. Over time, a full-length came to be a record that used up most of a CD, so that records that would have constituted a ‘double album’ in the past now are considered to be of average length. Such a judgment may also be genre dependent, as a full length album by The Locust with 23 songs barely breaks the 20 minute mark, while the same length would be an EP for a group like Thee Silver Mt. Zion.
With the shift to mp3s, the album length of a collection of songs didn’t change, but instead audiences became more focused on curating collections of songs out of context. Drawing on her experience as a DJ and musician, Terre Thaemlitz decided to push the medium to its extreme conclusion and deduced the largest a single mp3 could be and composed a release at this length. Soulnessless is a conceptual work about the relationship between a medium and the form of an album.
“Full-Length MP3 Album” refers to a maximum length <4GB 320kB/s stereo MP3 file based on FAT32 size limitations, first actualized in the recording of the 31hr. 25min. acoustic piano solo, “Meditation on Wage labor and the Death of the Album” (edited duration: 29hr. 42min. 30sec. 53msec./3.984217739664GB). When combined with the other audio files in this album, the total length exceeds 32 hours
I see this mix as asking similar questions to those invoked by each of these artists reflecting on the relationship between their chosen medium and the duration of their work. Because music is almost by necessity arranged according to movement over time, our interpretative strategies depend upon an understanding of the scale of the work as a whole. True to the spirit of the Lost Children mix series, our 50th installment is challenging and unafraid of taking its concept to its endpoint. Looking forward to the next 50. (Joseph Sannicandro)
The Long Now Mix
by Julien Demoulin
1. The Necks – Aether 00:00:00
2. Tarentel – Big Black Square 01:03:40
3. Julien Demoulin & IA – The Bay 01:46:40
4. Bohren & Der Club of Gore – Zeigefinger 02:26:00
5. Charlemagne Palestine – Jamaica Heinekens in Brooklyn 02:46:24
6. Celer – Leave us Alone to be Together 03:47:37
7. Laurie Spiegel – The Expanding Universe 04:40:50
8. William Basinski – dlp 1.1 05:09:05
9. Andrew Chalk – Shadows of the Album Skies 06:11:10
10. Brian Eno – Thursday Afternoon 06:57:28
11. Tarab – Take all the Ships from the Harbour and Sail them Straight into Hell 07:57:20 (not included in soundcloud version)
Total run-time : 06:45:01 // 08:52:16