Monday, October 31, 2011

Once Around Altair

This delightfully eerie and minimal track by Louis and Bebe Baron was a huge leap of faith for its time. A leap of faith because it required much more from the listener to be enjoyable. Heavy filter oscillations cascade from high to low, varying in layering and timbre. Using little other than the conventional analog synthesizers to create alien-like spaceship passes were inspired by the hi-fi revolution and the atomic age, where people were fascinated by the space program and the impending humungous shift in energy consumption and possible discovery of life outside of planet earth.
What was innovative about this album no less this piece of music was the fact that it required much more from the listener. Most music in the mid twentieth century was very accessible to the general public, did not require any participation from the listener, but for this piece to be effective you have to close your eyes and envision the world that the Baron's are trying to create, to submit and use the sound object to enhance a visual imagery that is left up to the listener to paint in their mind. This new style parallels with Glen Gould's segment in Audio culture called "The Participant Listener", where he states that "..there is a new kind of listener-- a listener more participant in the musical experience. The emergence of this mid-twentieth century phenomenon is the greatest achievement of the record industry. For this listener is no longer passively analytical; he is an associate who's tastes, preferences and inclinations even now alter peripherally the experiences to which he gives his attention, and upon who's fuller participation to the future of the art of music awaits" (121-122).

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