April 17th, 2004


As slow and sweet as molasses

The pre shift meeting at work included a note that due to slow business some of us could leave early. This normally wouldn't have inspired within me such haste but today I had a mission! I read in today's newspaper about 9 Beet Stretch, a one-of-a-kind presentation of Beethoven's 9th Symphony as never played before; Norwegian composer Leif Inge has digitally stretched the work to a length of 24 hours. I'll say that again, 24 hours. Not only that but the lengthy installation is being played at an old ironworks building slated for restoration into an arts incubator. The idea of such a unique event in town excited me to a furor of productivity with anticipation and hopes of finishing enough work to leave early to catch the opening. I hit the doors at 5:40 and was well on my way to a great weekend. I contacted sacredspud as soon as I got home and kidnapped him from a post-work get together with coworkers so I could have some company.

We found the ironworks building with little difficulty and arrived there just in time as the restoration architect was just wrapping up his tour and relating some interesting stories discovered in his research of the building and grounds. The crowd broke and we were encouraged to wander, explore and enjoy ourselves as the sun was setting and the music began to play.

The building was selected for its architectural appeal and character, and speakers were set up throughout to ensure that it wouldn't be a static experience. There were various colored lights here and there along the ceiling and accenting various parts of the building. As we strolled the 465 foot length of the building faint, eerie tones began rising and falling in slow undulations, instilling a strange sense of awe and wonder. The familiar music was rendered completely unrecognizable at 22 times slower than the normal speed without change in pitch. The idea of something like this could lead me to expect getting bored of it after a while. Certainly I've heard plenty of similar ambient electronic music that just didn't do anything for me, but this had a life to it all of its own. When played this slowly, new textures emerge, details stand out as each note gains startling significance. The atmosphere of the old factory only accented this and gave it an eerie yet calm feeling throughout.

Visitors are welcome to come and go as they please to take in as much or as little of the experience as they want. Some people brought their own chairs and a couple others had sleeping bags. I certainly wouldn't mind sleeping there in the night air and soothing sounds and possibly would have had I more time to plan ahead. It's still going on as I type and I plan to stop by once again on my way to A-Club tomorrow. Hopefully I'll have more passengers to share the experience with. -- Tho' probably too late for the 4th movement around 11 o'clock. -- With this as the American premiere and only full-length engagement (only portions will be played in New York and San Francisco,) I'm glad I was able to participate. It's something I'll never forget.

Current Mood: hypnotized
  • Current Music
    Beethoven's 9th Symphony, 4th movement, the 2½ hour version