Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Palimpsest - Yasunao Tone & Florian Hecker

Today we are going to stretch the term song to its breaking point. I would highly recommend headphones for this one- both for the experience and also to protect the sanity of those around you.
Yasunao Tone is a Japanese artist chiefly known for creating digital sound collages by damaging CDs and capturing the fractured sound as it's desperately attempted to be read by older CD players. Much like noise artist Christian Marclay, he physically engages with (read destroys) the machines we use to experience music and crafts new soundscapes in the process.

Today's Best Song Ever, Palimpsest, is a collaboration between Tone and electronic music composer Florian Hecker. In order to create the piece, Tone converted the symbols of the Man'yoshu (the oldest existing collection of Japanese poetry) into data encoded onto CDs and recorded the sound of that data being interpreted by a CD player. Basically. The important thing is it sounds pretty nuts. These are the schizophrenic ramblings of electricity recorded for your listening pleasure.
As with much sound art/noise music, the piece isn't a song so much as an experience. By the end of its twenty eight and a half minutes my head had turned completely horizontal. My brain was bombarded with images of metal floss being yanked between my ears, an electric beehive, fleas dying at hyper speed, and the distinct impression my teeth were falling out. It's like walking through an arcade with highly selective tinnitus.
I wouldn't go so far as to say it's pleasant listening, but it's endlessly fascinating. You'll hear a violin for a moment before it turns into a digital toilet flush which rapidly disintegrates into the shattering of an invisible wine glass. How many other songs can lay claim to something like THAT?

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