Friday, September 21, 2007


One of the shorter tracks in the New York in the 1960s box set at only 5 minutes 4 seconds, "Ex-Cathedra*" makes its presence felt nonetheless. The sole instrument is rapidly pulsing Vox organ.

The right hand plays the high-pitched drone that you hear first, sounding for all the world like the beginning of Pink Floyd's Astronomy Domine, but this bit never moves on - it's played throughout the entire piece. It starts in the right channel and gradually takes over the left. Wrapping around it like a reverb blanket after a minute or so is the left-hand part, lower and more comfortable. This is where the action takes place. There's no force to it at first; it's much quieter than the high-pitched part and accents it by exploring adjacent tones. It starts in both channels.

After three minutes, the hands return to their respective parts of the stereo picture, and the left-hand part takes the lead, bobbing rhythmically. The right hand experiments with bringing in some melody (God does it sound like Rick Wright), until finally at 4:19 the left hand is booted out entirely. The Vox's low-pitched overdrive noise takes an important role here. Finally the song cuts out.

It serves as a palate-cleanser on Dream Interpretation, bridging effectively the 20-minute is-it-viola-or-didgeridoo title track and the 13-minute early-David-Lynch-soundtrack untitled prepared piano piece. Though it's more accessible than the material that surrounds it, it can still clear a room handily. Good stuff.

* There's some disagreement whether this is "from the chair" or "a former cathedral." I need to check my box set.

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