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The Sinking of the Titanic (1969-)
Performed by Gavin Bryars (double bass), Philip Jeck (turntables) and Alter Ego (strings, brass, wind, percussion, keyboard, tape recorder and sound design). This version of UK composer Gavin Bryars' seminal piece, The Sinking of the Titanic, was recorded at the 49th International Festival of Contemporary Music at The Venice Biennale, October 1, 2005 at the Teatro Maliban. The Sinking of the Titanic is an open semi-aleatoric work written in 1969 and Bryars has developed versions of variable length (from 15 minutes to an hour) that have been performed in different contexts, both as sound installation and as a real concert work. The piece has its origins in an obsession (one in which Bryars meditates on the famous ship's sinking), whose evidence is in a minute handwritten notebook. This brings together information, curiosities, evidence, statistical data on the survivors, technical research on the ship, on the places occupied by the passengers, on projects for the wreck's recovery. This sinking is then a metaphor for the failure of modern technology, of the paradox of modernity, the fact that a super-technological ship could have been rammed and sunk by a block of ice. The version proposed by Alter Ego (a contemporary music group based in Rome, Italy) and Gavin Bryars is an absolutely new approach for the project and for multimedia installation. The other important new figure in this version is Philip Jeck, one of the most important names on the experimental scene. Jeck uses his experience to cover the sound with a blanket of thin dust, which, at the same time, is memory, distance, hallucination, traveling and anxiety. The dust which comes from the obsessive repetition of a short phrase and its melancholy is part of a harmony that Jeck shares with Bryars that succeeds in freezing time in another dimension. This is another important aspect of the Titanic idea: one related to memory and to lifetime, to concreteness and abstraction meant as a metaphor for the journey between life and death, the ocean's surface and depth. Gavin Bryars (double bass); Philip Jeck (turntables); Alter Ego (strings, brass, wind, percussion, keyboard, tape recorder and sound design). Limited edition of 2000 CD in a special wallet + postcard [postcard image by media artist Andrew Hooker]. Artwork by Jon Wozencroft.