Monday, September 3, 2012

Song #247 of 9999 - Cassettes by Frankie Big Face

Song #247 of 9999 

Title: Cassettes
Artist: Frankie Big Face
Year: 2012
Album: Nur Ein 7

Click here to listen!
ATTENTION: I don't recommend listening to this track with headphones.The crotales will hurt you if you are not careful.

It just so happens I'm writing this post on John Cage's birthday and it seems appropriate as Cage once famously said "There is no noise, only sound" and proceeded to break all the rules of music composition in the same way Picasso revolutionized art. This wasn't just thinking outside the box; it was ignoring the box altogether.

My Cassettes is not quite that revolutionary and doesn't attempt to be. I'm a slave to popular music in the truest sense of the word. Even when I step outside and try something new, I want it to be accessible and stand up to repeated hearings. That being said, this isn't your father's Frankie Big Face. It's noisy, messy, dissonant, harsh. My assignment was to write a villanelle (it's okay—I had to look it up) and I came up with this apocalyptic tale of acceptance and legacy:

Put it all on the cassettes
We'll invest our faith in audio
Acetate never forgets

We've lived a life of no regrets
Embracing the open window
Put it all on the cassettes

The new ones will settle our debts
To the planet we sorely owe
Acetate never forgets

We were ready for the bayonets
Not for the chemical glow
Put it all on the cassettes

The night will harbor our silhouettes
The sun will rise on the crow
Acetate never forgets

And when our last duet
Makes its final diminuendo
Put it all on the cassettes
Acetate never forgets

Sonically, I was trying to create an atmosphere of certain annihilation at the hands of something mechanical. (I pictured that big machine in Lost that moved about the island taking out trees wherever it went.) I layered a lot of vocals with varying rhythm, emphasizing the major second which has always represented stasis to me. And I employed gradually intensifying polyrhythms in the crotales, tuned cymbals which have a brilliant timbre almost impossible to record without overloading the mic. In the end, I think I produced an interesting track, only wishing I had made the low end more apparent during the last two minutes or so.

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