While this series allows me an excuse to gorge the prolific work of an artist I admire, because so much of this work operates at the heart rate of a hibernating mammal, it also demands that I relax. This week’s subject is a case in point. two songs for a scottish seaside resort might be thought of as “discreet music”: it offers us a faint pulse, a barely differentiated view, a vague mode of listening. “four painted benches at aubury boating pond with their backs to a blue hut,” the first half, presents 50 minutes of extremely faint tonal hyperventilation.
Your attention will wander, and that wanderlust is half the battle. A buoy bobs on the surf; a gull idles atop an airstream; a child slowly extends a powder blue Slinky the length of an airplane runway; the surveyor sighs, and then checks his texts. “four painted benches” isn’t interested in our notions of climax or moment, and in listeners this disinterest necessarily translates into calm at the moment we understand that what we hear is unlikely to shift in a meaningful way. The ear unclenches, goes lazy, at which point something does shift, so quietly that it’s easy to miss entirely. Play it again.