Review by: Eric Pember
Album assigned by: Alex Alex
This kind of music is frankly nearly critic-proof. One reason it’s critic-proof is that the people who make such music tend to treat critics with scorn. At best, they consider them a nuisance to be begrudgingly tolerated. A discussion on whether they are right to think this or not would be quite interesting, but this is not quite the time for that.
Another reason it’s critic proof is that it’s simply really hard to analyze something like this without sounding like either a clueless philistine or a pretentious git. You only have to take a quick look at RateYourMusic to see examples of both extremes.
Considering these facts, I initially wanted to make this review into a bit of a joke. I was going to start out with one sentence and then gradually manipulate it. Here’s an example of how I could’ve done that:
“I am a laconic reviewer. I am a short reviewer. I am Robert Christgau. I am Jesus Christ. I am Jesus Christ, superstar. I am Karen Carpenter. I am a hammer.”
I ultimately decided against it because I didn’t think it was a fair judgement of the music. I have nothing against Mark Prindle-style reviews, and will probably write some myself in the future. However, I like to reserve that sort of thing for something I just don’t like or have no real interest in. Neither of those conditions apply to this.
Anyway, this is exactly what it says on the tin. Alvin Lucier is sitting in a room, and he gradually plays back and re-records what he said until nothing is preserved save for a basic resonance. It becomes pretty good drone music at about the 15 minute mark or so. I admit I somewhat prefer The Disintegration Loops for this kind of thing, however, despite how it got pushed back against by people who were annoyed that Pitchfork liked it and acted all pretentious about doing so. I suppose that ties back into the beginning of my review, though.
At any rate, for making me think all these thoughts and for being pretty pleasant to listen to in general, this is worth keeping in my library. I will need to listen to it again next time I am high (I’ve gotten high once, but unfortunately wasn’t really prepared for it – I will be next time, though) and see if that makes it even better.