We're proud (and somewhat astonished) to announce the World Premiere of Erik Satie's beguiling 18-hour composition "Vexations," performed in the style of a music box. The poet Chris Piuma requested this unprecedented performance, in anticipation of a cross-country train expedition.
Listener take note
: Satie's composition is eerie, mind-bending, and hallucinatory. Please don't play while operating heavy machinery.
What does this highly unusual performance sound like? The first listener likened it to "the uncanny valley between creepy and pleasant, between soothing and agitating, between meditative and disturbing. And I'm sure 15 hours into it I will be in some other state entirely. . . . I've wanted to hear an uninterrupted performance of this piece for over a decade, and now here it is!"
Click above to play streaming version.
The second listener praised music box maestro Ken Clinger for capturing "the continual, unrelieved dissonance, with no obvious sense of direction or tonal centre, and the total chromaticism. I think anyone listening to this for 18 hours and 40 minutes would definitely hallucinate. . . . I suppose it would be curious if for the next 18 hours I kept writing a response. I'm not sure if it would reveal the anguish over unreciprocated affection that I feel listening to this aural Auschwitz. Maybe I should instead podcast. . . . Hours have passed and my hands feel like balloons, my feet like stars, and my hair has turned gray. . . . The 17th repetition I have designated as the Schwarzschild radius. See how slowly I appear to move? Do not be fooled. . . . My elbows tingle in calliopeic sympathy (or that may just be an odd manifestation of the carpal tunnel). . . . I can't stop crying. And laughing."
: A music box cylinder containing the full score (with all 840 repetitions) would measure 4,032 inches in diameter (336 feet), which is the same height as the Victoria Tower at London’s Westminster Palace.
In addition to streaming audio, a 63 MB mp3
of "Vexations" is available.
18 hours? The best I could do was Guru Sven, which is only 12 hours.