Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Don't (Vessel Ripley) by John Oswald

It begins in the middle of a soft, soulful croon, with a thrum of bass and gentle plinking of piano--even an angelic background chorus. Gradually, the voice begins to sing over itself, eventually coming to simply repeat “don’t” over and over in the background. The crooner continues, but his voice becomes disjointed, echoing itself. The chorus grows louder, he grows louder, unnaturally so, until there’s a cacophony as the piano goes mad. A moment of silence. The song returns, but everything is different. The crooner’s voice changes pitch, distending. All of the sounds have remained in tempo but are deeper, almost unearthly. There’s a madman on the piano, and it plays frantically, without rhythm, banging on keys louder and louder. The crooner presses on through the noise despite the fact that the pitch of his voice continues unnaturally deep, but as the piano rages at last his voice disappears and all the noise fades, in the way of piano strings’ fading vibrations after the fingers that were pounding the keys are suddenly gone. How is it that such an old, simple, soulful tune can so simply be turned into something so wholly disturbing?

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