[midlife 150] #124: ekkehard ehlers “plays john cassavetes part 2”

June 16, 2010

Album cover for Plays by Ekkehard Ehlers

#124 Plays John Cassavetes (part 2) by Ekkehard Ehlers, taken from Plays, 2002 [buy from Boomkat]

Plays collects together a series of EPs released by German electronic composer/producer Ekkehard Ehlers across 2001 and 2002, each one a meditation on a single, singular artist: blues legend Robert Johnson, free jazz pioneer Albert Ayler, experimental composer Cornelius Cardew, novelist Hubert Fichte and independent film actor and director John Cassavetes.

Of the five works, Plays John Cassavetes is perhaps the most accessible, the most conventionally beautiful.  Its second ‘act’ in particular creates the perfect aural conditions for the kind of wordless introspection that reconnects you to the things you value most.

The central looped orchestral phrase – that over the course of the piece’s ten minutes is augmented by other incrementally shifting instrumentation, both analogue and electronic (it apparently samples Arnold Schönberg and the Beatles) – provides an iterative promise of resolution, of closure, that suggests a journey not towards the object of your quest, but the return trip. A pilgrimage home.

Quite how this relates to the life and/or work of Cassavetes I couldn’t tell you. But strangely I don’t feel curious to find out.

This review is part of close to 94 ‘s [midlife 150] series, which counts down favourite music 1970-2009.


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