Tuesday, March 13, 2018

CD Review:
Alex Cunningham
(Personal Archives)

$5 // Edition of 100 //

For me, I've always enjoyed the mystery of music.    I prefer not to know what elements go into making it so as to let my imagination run wild.   However, when looking at this CD- even just to take the CD itself out of the case- I noticed one important detail that leaves me wondering throughout this album.   The credit to Alex Cunningham is for "Violin, Artwork, Layout By" (and I'm in the thanks... jk)  This leads me to believe that all of the sounds I hear on "Ache" are being made with a violin.  Is this true? (And if it is not, do I want to know?)

"Ache" is one track that goes on for about twenty five minutes so I'll let you decide how you want to classify it.   Is it a single?  Sure, in the sense that it's singular.  But I don't think this whole piece would be played on any mainstream radio station [Editor's Note: This may or may not be true as I do not listen to the radio]  So if it's technically only one track but goes on for over... let's say ten minutes... can we call it an album?  Though if there was a single track for less time would it be an EP?  How do we determine such things or do we just leave them undefined is part of the reason why I love music so much: it's based on numbers, which are consistent, but one of the only constants in music seems to be it is ever-changing, evolving.

At first this sounds like cello strings are being used in various ways (but again, I read only about the violin).   It appears as if different strings- cello, violin, etc.- are all playing together in a classical sense.   We drift into this weird electronic sound which I best describe as a Geiger Counter in the sense that you're holding this tool in your hand searching for uranium but as I know for some reason there is also a distortion pedal of the same name, which I'm not sure how it sounds because I won't open the YouTube video because of something about suspension of disbelief.

As it grows darker and wavy, bits of static come out until they seemingly engross the entire piece.   Those strings still persist as a deep drone and then screeches can be heard.   I'd always kind of thought those sounds I often described as screeches were violins (or just the really high parts on some string instrument, you know, up near where the tuning nobs are perhaps) and then it gives off the effect that we are drilling in space.   For some reason this instrumental sound has me singing Polly Scattergood in my head.

Everything seemingly culminates into destruction before there are banjo plucks which sound Oriental somehow.   It sounds like a fiddle after this and then the strings just sort of fade out in the end.   While I believe there are more instruments in play here than just a violin, I wouldn't put it past Alex Cunningham to have created it all with a violin and nothing else.   It would be quite the accomplishment, but this is certainly noteworthy either way.

"Ache" has also challenged how I not only hear music but what I think about music in terms of how it is made.   You can have an acoustic or electric guitar and there are a number of different effects pedals (Almost seemingly endless) which you can plug a guitar into in order to alter the sound.    What if this was also the case for other string instruments?  What if this could be done with a violin?  What if that's exactly what's happening on "Ache"?  I don't want to speculate because in the end I don't want to know the truth about the recipe.

If the idea of how this is made doesn't intrigue though, as it has me, you should be interested in "Ache" simply because it has this lingering feeling of pain to it, as the title would suggest.   The pain isn't in an "Ow! That hurts!" way but more of a sadness.   It's less of a leg break and more of a heartbreak.    We have all likely felt this way at one point in our lives (if not all the time forever) and as such it is easy to listen to this while watching the outside world go by and perhaps even see the pain in those around us.

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