I'm assuming this is an internet first: Reviewing a neo / modern classical piece whilst watching an episode of 70's TV mainstay The Double Deckers. It's the one about the runaway go-cart, which is incidentally driven by the character 'Spring' (Brinsley Forde) who went on to become the lead singer of British reggae hit makers Aswad. We are watching this at the request of my son who wanted some kind of distraction from my company other than the plastic toy dragons toys I picked up for him from McDonalds. My parenting skills are having an off-day.
So 'Nocturnes' by current minimalist composer of the moment William Basinski, I know little about him aside of the reviews of all of his work, especially the six CD magnum opus 'The Disintegration Loops' is very favourable. Spring is now chasing a horse around a barnyard on an out of control go-cart whilst being pursued by a motorcycle policeman. 'Nocturnes' is an easy listen, perfect modern BGM. My wife hates it, her two word review being 'creepy and depressing.' I don't think its either of those things but regardless it is now filed under 'Can we put something else on?'
Spring crashed into a pond and it appears that the leather clad go-cart bad guy is played by Robin Askwith of saucy handyman / milkman film fame. Another episode of Double Deckers has started, the gang are fixing up an old ladies house so that she doesn't get evicted, regardless of the fact that landlords are of course responsible for structural repair. Despite this minor detail it makes for some good physical comedy/slapstick.
The movement in Nocturnes is subtle, tidy and hypnotic. On first listen it comes across as very minimal indeed, pulsating and dark yet uneventful. By about the third time I'd had this on it started to come into it's own, justifying much of the hype. It's moody and melancholy but has enough going on for me to sit through it without feeling I am being patient. The new classical scene being en vogue at the moment means that 'Nocturnes' comes to a very crowded market-place, with the likes of the Erased Tapes crew and the newly anointed Max Richter upping the anti to a point where it makes it quite hard for any other players to stand out. I've bought fairly heavily into the whole modern classical thing on CD format (Wise investment that) and have to say that despite numerous albums by Nils Frahm, Winged Victory for the Sullen etc being played over and over I find it hard to tell the difference a lot of the time. In my defence it's a subtle scene and I am very new to it. Cue wallpaper paste accident... Those kids are really fucking up that old ladies house.
So, the packaging is a bit of a non event. At a time when people just aren't buying CDs you need to give them every reason to crave owning a physical copy, neither the yawn-some artwork or near blank flimsy fold-out cardboard sleeve get me excited about owning this rather than having it on invisible MP3 format. All this aside I'm glad I dropped this onto an order of house-hold flim-flam from Amazon and it was absolutely worth the seven or so quid I paid for it.