Monday, September 5, 2011

OSCILLATIONS: "Love Song For The Dead Che" by Northern Picture Library

This was the debut single (1993) by the Northern Picture Library,  an incarnation of the more guitar-oriented Field Mice.  Strings are entirely absent here,  replaced by electronic textures,  ambient sounds,  and noise.   This intriguingly titled song is from the only album (1968) by composer Joseph Byrd's United States of America,  usually seen as an attempt to fuse "serious" electronic composition with rock music.  Primitive oscillators join electric violin (played through a ring modulator) , electric harpsichord,  electric percussion, fretless electric bass and all manner of acoustic instrumentation in Byrd's quest for an early electronic/pop fusion.  Northern Picture Library take what is a gentle,  yet heartfelt love song and drain it of any emotion.  The dispassionate female vocals sound almost child-like against a curtain of  electronics and electronic percussion,  making the song a memento mori of sorts,  a memory and a reminder.

                                           I Remember the Warmth of You,
                                           Still in My Arms.
                                           Late,  Late in the Year.

Two versions of "Love Song For The Dead Che" were included in this release.  #1 starts surprisingly with an intense wall of noise before the familiar melody takes hold,  while #2 is more user friendly.  I must say that I prefer the contrasting sonorities of the first version,  as noise gives way to a  gentle drone. What all this has to do with Che is a mystery to me,  although the radical politics of the Sixties certainly had something to do with the song's gestation and birth.

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