With the advent and ascension of streaming services like Spotify, music has become so disposable that even something as recently modern as an IPod playlist seems quaint. Indeed, why buy an album or even a single for an MP3 player, when you can just stream what you want right now on your phone. In this climate, actively listening to a complete 40-minute album from start to finish sounds like an unrealistic commitment.
My work listening recommendation for this week is Robert Rich's 8-hour Perpetual. A Somnium Continuum.
Yes, Perpetual is an 8-hour album. It was created by electronic music pioneer, Robert Rich. Rich composed Perpetual in 2013, as a part of a series he releases an entry for every decade or so called The Sleep Concerts. The idea is that you go to one of these concerts at night and sleep, while your ever-awake subconscious soaks in the music. Remarkably, this piece also works wonders as you spend 8 hours of your day sitting at a desk.
Perpetual begins with deep, rich, mysterious ambient tones, evocative of a slow-motion pan through a thick, misty rainforest. These sounds and textures continue to develop organically for hours. Around 4.5 hours in, Rich explores some colder, more mechanical musical thoughts, but slowly builds back to sounds more evocative of nature, so that the last hour feels like a spiritual ascension, as if the listener has reached the transcendent light at the middle of the dew-drenched forest, deep booming subaqueous blasts billowing under foot, ever rising, so that when you file that last TPS report and reach for your keys, you are surprised to find your cheeks ripe with tears.
Transcendent is the right word.
Perpetual. A Somnium Continuum is a transcendent experience.