CeresIcicles is a pop track that’s no longer pop. The sound sources began as pop, but were pulverized by Ennio Mazzon in a process akin to macerating a crate of fruit ~ crate included. Mazzon doesn’t want to be a pop star, but he’s interested in the effect of pop. Is there something intrinsic in pop music that endures no matter the form, as water continues to exist as vapor? Might this explain the annoying earworm, the perseverance of particular tracks on AM radio?
Granted, the sources are his own: field recordings, compositions, swaths of melody and harmony. One imagines choruses embedded in the mix; five minutes before the end, a particularly musical snippet rides the wave to the shore. If the ear is drawn to this melody – stuttered like a broken disc and abraded by static and grit – then a key component of taste has been revealed. Those who prefer this section prefer pop to abstraction, form to seeming disarray. And yet, the piece is nothing if not well-ordered, proceeding from a quiet genesis to a thick revelation. By the end, the listener is led to a fuller understanding of musical taste as it pertains to personal choice.
Without the liner notes, most listeners will have one of two reactions. The mainstream listener may enjoy the birds at the beginning, but after that refuse to listen. Sonic mulch is far from catchy, and unfamiliar. The drone fan will receive the EP as a curious excursion, accepting its timbres without looking into its construction. This too reveals something about the common listener, a link between the mainstream music fan and the avatar of the experimental. Most people prefer simply to listen. They like what they hear, or they don’t. And this is why the popularity of pop music – redundancy noted – exasperates so many in the second category. They don’t want their music deconstructed, or their lyrics analyzed. It’s all about that bass, no treble.*
The accompanying video excerpt says in a few minutes what the full piece says in twenty; the track originally began as an hour-long, six-song album and is now a third the length. In essence, it’s a wide mirror of an edited pop song; as Billy Joel laments, “It was a beautiful song, but it ran too long, so they cut it down to 3:05.”
Have you learned something? What have you learned? Do you like this song? Would you like to hear it on the radio? If you could re-edit the track to the length of a single, what would you keep? What would you take out? What will you listen to next, and why will you choose it? If these and other questions now occupy your mind, then the track has accomplished its goals. (Richard Allen)
* one of the few popular lyrics with a widely-publicized second meaning.