R. Luke DuBois - Timelapse
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R. Luke DuBois

With any highly conceptual music idea, there's a risk of having the scope of the idea outweigh the final output. R. Luke DuBois is a musician and inventor who came up with the idea of "time lapse phonography." In doing so, he captures the sonic frequencies of longer pieces of music and compressing them into short segments, which he then blurs together into weird, hazy fields of ebbing ambience.

The centerpiece of Timelapse is the four-part "Billboard," which takes every #1 song from the Billboard charts from between 1958 and 2000 (857 in all) and slides them together into a sprawling, thirty-six minute symphony where each hit is allotted one second for each week it was at the top of the charts. Because of his technique of averages (which I'm still not quite sure of), the end result is something that sounds less like Plunderphonics than one might expect. Although there are definitely jumps and shifts between the songs, it's not like flipping the dial on the radio every 1-5 seconds and hearing something new skitter by.

Instead, the compression of the tracks fuses them together in strange ways, letting usually only the musical key seep through the somewhat murky piece. In fact, "Billboard" is broken into four different tracks (covering roughly ten years apiece), and sadly the end result is unique for one listen (especially when listening to track while watching the embedded video, which shows the track artists and names zoom by), but as the title suggests, tends to all blur together in time. Unless one is playing very, very close attention, it at times sounds like the same looped bits recycling, which I suppose is part of the larger conceptual idea of Billboard hits recycling their overall sound time and time again.

I enjoy highbrow conceptual ideas as much as the next person, but for me to really stand up and take notice, the results have to hold some sort of weight (Matmos is about the best in their field in this department). Only the album-closing "...Time Goes By (Casablanca)," which turns the same technique on the movie of the same name, manages to slightly break through the hazy mist a little bit more than the rest. As it stands, the tracks that lack dynamics just sort of meander and the track that does have dynamics ("Billboard") runs the overall idea into the ground over the course of almost forty minutes. An interesting idea and concept, but that doesn't mean it's going to hold my attention.

rating: 5.510
Aaron Coleman 2006-05-25 21:36:29