Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jukebox Capriccio by Christian Marclay

Starts with an ear-splitting scratching, like a record disc being dropped onto a player roughly and slid around. Music begins, a swinging beat with jazzy horns, but which quickly is shredded by static and screeching. The 'underlying' music ceases abruptly and is replaced by a hyper-speed (sounds like it has been sped up at least) drum groove, plowing through underneath a near-constant assault of sharp, gritty scratches. Split second cut ups of saxophone honks, jazzy horn trills, the rapid pitch changes of the scratches - then a lull of ordinary music, mysterious and coy, before furious disc scratching, blaring from all the horns and clanging from all the drums, a cacophony of instrumental sounds - sounds seeming inherently musical and harmonic in quality, but mishmashed together like this, create a bewildering soundscape that brings strong negative imagery to mind. Suddenly the track calms, a modulated, softer, less aggressive static slipping in and blending with a slow big band swing; but in a matter of seconds, just as the mind begins to accept this new direction, the disc scratching returns, literally tearing the music asunder and jarring the listener for a few more precious seconds before the track suddenly cuts off, with no pretense of conclusion. Is this a carefully composed critique of traditional music, the jukebox, or the society which flocks around it? Or is it a frantic and spontaneous assault? What sort of effect, one must wonder, was this piece intended to produce in the listener, if anything was intended at all?

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