Title: The Art of Boredom I – Live at Bauhaus FM
Artist: The Basic Income Earth Network
Release Date: 02-Feb-2013
Genre: Vocal Experimental
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Release Label / Page: Headphonica

So, this fascinating recording from Headphonica comes from a group that is even more fascinating for their ideals. ¬†But, that is not to say that their ideals eclipse their music in any way, shape or form. ¬†Here’s is a quote from the Headphonica website that describes the groups unique perspective:

The Basic Income Earth Network is a network of academics and activists interested in the idea of a universal basic income, i.e. a guaranteed minimum income based solely on citizenship and not on work requirement or charity.

Just that concept alone, whether you agree with it or not, makes for an interesting backdrop by which to listen to this work. ¬†I personally think there are flaws to this concept, and those flaws have become more pronounced given the current political situation, recent events, and more importantly the revelations of what our governments have been doing. ¬†But, I don’t want to go into all of that now. ¬†Instead let’s focus on the music because, the music on this release is quite amazing.

The music on this release is a Capella vocal works, with some occasional percussion.  The recordings were made over a four-hour recording session at Bauhaus FM in Weimar, Germany.  The session was broken into four one hour segment.  The vocalists were given a line to work with for each segment:

  1. The Art Of Boredom
  2. If I Had Money, I Would Have Money
  3. Verarbeite, Was Dich Verarbeitet
  4. If Not Now, When?

They improvised on the lines they were given for each segment.  The recordings were then taken, edited, mixed and manipulated to produce the 14 track, 3 hr and 23 minute recording released on Headphonica.

The results are quite astonishing.  The structure of each piece unfold before your ears like a Philip Glass or Steve Reich piece.  They build slowly, while shifting in rhythms and harmonies.  Each of the performers reacts to the others in the group in ways that can be unpredictable and sometimes even a bit jarring, while keeping the central theme or idea that they started with.

These are definitely not works that are for listeners of the typical three to five-minute long pop-tune.  Only two of the tracks are under five minutes long.

Listening to this release is more like a meditation. The challenge is to keep the words and concept focused in your mind over a long period. This is definitely the kind of music that is most fittingly listened to on headphones. ¬†Some of the tracks are more rhythmic, and might lead you to groove with them, but you will still be meditating on the piece. ¬†A perfect example is the doo-wop style first segment of ‘If I Had Money, I Would Have Money’.

I find that it’s not possible to get away from the phrases employed by the group. ¬†The whole work revolves on the idea that you are listening to it on two levels: musical and lyrical. ¬†And, it works in astonishing ways. ¬†Definitely a release that you will find yourself listening to over and over, if you can give yourself over to the work.

And, given the background of the group, I found myself thinking about the concept of a guaranteed minimal income even more than I would have if I had just read some flyers, or an internet website about them.  So, this is a successful work  on many levels.  Excellent.

The Basic Income Earth Network: The Art of Boredom I




Posted by George De Bruin