What’s the value of repetition in music? I throw around the word “repetitious” in reviews probably as much as anyone, and it always seems to have a good or worthwhile connotation. Repetition is one of the most valuable tools a musician can use, as each repetition of each element provides a template for memory and perception to build a robust experience of music. Since our memories form alongside our perceptions, each repetition can never truly be the same, each imprint building our perception of patterns, breaks, each nuance, each element of the music.
I ask about the value of repetition, because ACid threw me a curveball on this Dark Isle CDr. Dark Meadow Recordings released this CDr with two featured recordings, Frozen Evenings by Candlelight and The Scars of Her Tears. Taken from afar, the entire 19-track affair seems to be testing patterns and breaks in electronic and ambient music, as supremely downer beats uphold synthetic orchestrations, choirs, looped voices, spooky-dark spoken word, and gaudy synthetic keys. For at least an hour, the prevailing sense of the disc is to develop a mood — ACid is definitely placing you somewhere, and the beats drive you to the same place over and over and over again. Shifting elements for each track — one time it’s a synth, the next it’s strings, etc. — provide different vehicles for your journey, but the destination is definitely the same, the patterns ultimately prevail even as new elements protest.
Ironically, for this full journey — during which I seriously spaced, middle cuts bleeding and droning into one another (although other times I wondered just when this might end) –the whole thing stopped me still on the very first cut. On “Cold Night Air is Mine Breathe,” ACid weaves textured, oscillating voices, choral arrangements, and strings in a synthetic swirl of slow paced, unfolding swells. This could have gone on forever.
The beats immediately enter on the second cut, “Frozen Evening by Candlelight,” and they pretty much remain steady throughout the disc. The vibe is the same — slow, trippy beats, breaks in the middle of the songs, repeating patterns and tempos. On this relentless spine, ACid subtracts all of the elements from the opening cut, and then adds them to another track, one at a time. For instance, “Left With Nothing” emphasizes those strings and orchestral sounds again, while “Prayers in a Frozen Shrine” features synthetic vocals or a sampled choir. High-end key riffs, found sound rain, and dark spoken word here and there populate the disc with shocking moments that break the chain of patterns.
Repetitious and moody, patterns and breaks trade spaces throughout this disc. I can’t decide if the repetitions and interaction of elements was successful enough to draw me back and experience the whole disc, or if they phased me out of the experience of the music all together.