GAVIN BRYARS with PHILIP JECK & ALTER EGO – The Sinking Of The Titanic (1969-) (Touch)


Posted on Feb 26th 2008 12:02 am

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Gavin Bryars/Philip Jeck/Alter Ego: The Sinking Of The Titanic (1969-)

The Sinking Of The Titanic (1969-)
Touch 2007
01 Track. 72mins35secs

Crackle inhabits the first four minutes of this new version of Gavin Bryars’s The Sinking of the Titanic. It’s an ominous sound. Heard on old blues records it’s the sound of time passed. And cultural distance. Here it also suggests, perhaps rather inevitably, the cracking of ice.

Strings ebb and swell in mournful, elegiac fashion and are occasionally pierced by reverberating percussion that could be the dripping of water into pools. An elderly, well-spoken woman recalls going up on deck at the twenty minute mark. Her confident chatter and sudden eruption into song make for a simultaneously familiar and completely otherworldly experience.

The clank and clangor that rise and fall through this music suggests the industry that produced the great ocean liner as well as the great engines and massive bulk of the vessel.

The music that forms the thread of Bryars’s composition is an ongoing treatment of Autumn, the Episcopal hymn which junior wireless operator Harold Bride reported hearing played by a string sextet on the deck as the Titanic sank between 2.15 and 2.20am on April 15th 1912. It continues, gentle and stately, washed by static, at times quieter, at times louder, through to the end of the piece’s 72 minutes.


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One Response to “GAVIN BRYARS with PHILIP JECK & ALTER EGO – The Sinking Of The Titanic (1969-) (Touch)”

  1. futurestaron 27 Mar 2009 at 4:30 am

    Defying description this piece doesn’t fit into any category except one for itself. Historically significant, musically rewarding and challenging. The electronic noodling of Philip Jeck add an exponential dimension marching ever out and in proving the ground underneath man is gladly given up even at the cost of stepping out onto none. The forever unknown nudges us all. It has its own tune and calls out to us all like a mythical siren.