Wednesday, December 30, 2009

WHY the most important record in my life is the creepiest

Read the previous entry, if not already.

After some preliminary research, the 2003 CD version of The Harmony Of The World seems a different beast than the vinyl counterpart discussed in the link above, based on noting differing track listings. So without further ado, here is a temporary zip file link to a direct vinyl rip of the original The Harmony Of The World LP:

(This link will be yanked immediately should either the CD turn out to be the same as the record, or the current authors make contact and request it be taken down.)


Fear of music is for those of little faith. Many have protested and/or boycotted certain musicians for decades, mainly as a vehicle with which to project their beliefs onto others -- in a way to compensate for their lack of faith. While many fear certain musicians because these listeners are sensitive human beings, either unsure or unaware of their own faith.

The use of fear, shock, grotesqueness, and macabre in music has a history as long as music itself. It's silly to argue that music made by Alice Cooper, Marilyn Manson, Geto Boys, or Throbbing Gristle is a product of death -- the state which humans naturally fear the most. Anything that can growl, walk around, and make sounds is certainly alive. For more imaginative listeners or viewers, these artists may be considered "undead." But it's impossible that this music is the direct byproduct of death itself.

No matter how comfortable or disturbing one's music is, there is discernible humanity in the output. Humanity exists even in songs with highly disturbing subject matter and delivery -- such as Throbbing Gristle's "Hamburger Lady", as one example.

The Harmony Of The World is no exception. The 1979 record's liner notes clearly give credit to professors Willie Ruff, John Rodgers, and sound consultant Mark Rosenberg. Human presences are clearly established.

However, the album is a unique example of structural generative music -- as in music that is generated by a non-human system dictated by analytic theories. In this case, the data was collected from the final chapter of a 1619 book called Harmonices Mundi by Johannes Kepler. Ruff and Rodgers used the data collected by Kepler in combination with modern techniques (by 1979 standards) to synthesize the looping sounds of each of the planets in our Solar System.

So why argue that The Harmony Of The World is the creepiest record ever?

Because the composers of this record knew exactly what they were doing.

They didn't seek out to trigger any specific emotions in the listener, at least as stated on record. They didn't inject any human aesthetics into this recording, other than the use of data collected by one human being, Johannes Kepler -- who had long been dead -- and the instruction of the sound engineer, whose role was to be a robot in practice. Most importantly, Ruff and Rodgers made this record an analogy of a complex, conflated harmony that no human could muster.

There is nothing good or evil in The Harmony Of The World. There are no major dynamic shifts in the long-form tracks on this record. The Harmony Of The World exhibits, in rawest form, the mundane reality that no matter how much joy or pain or living or dying one goes through, our planets will continue to revolve around our sun producing this harmony for millions of years to come.

It's highly ironic that the human impulse to communicate with music that has no traits of humanity at base brings out fear -- arguably the most human impulse of all.

One could imagine if this record was his or her first generative music discovery, he or she could experience an existential nightmare, should he or she try to project a traditional author or performer or composer to music like this.

Going further, imagine if he or she had elaborate and preconceived ideas of the afterlife. How horrifying this record would sound.

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