Monday, July 2, 2007

Ari Sleepy Too

1998's Dance Music (aka Nico: Music for the Ballet) is my candidate as Cale's most essential "classical" album. Eschewing a program, he wrote music appropriate for the choreography and denied a strong connection between the music and Nico herself: "Biography is best left to historians, ballet to visionaries. The titles live closer to reality than the music." I can't speak to any of that, but this is great music, covering many feelings and moods. It moves from the intense to the peaceful to the mournful, and might be the most varied in mood of any of Cale's coherent (i.e. non-compilation) releases.

Between the almost Gorecki-like repetition and tension of "Death Camp" and the loneliness and intensity of "Iceberg I," "Ari Sleepy Too" is the piece's graceful, elegiac center. Carefully-chosen segments of Nico speaking, taken from The Andy Warhol Index flexidisc, hang suspended from invisible wires above the instrumentals: a string section providing the musical bed, with a slide guitar (sounding almost like a koto) and a violin or two trading off the lead melodic development.

A little piano comes in to finish the piece. "We're not really that sentimental."

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