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Two Silent Nights

Seasonal covers by Scanner and Robert Fripp

Covers have very much been on mind of late, especially as I was reviewing a recent book about the song “Hallelujah.” That song was written and initially recorded by Leonard Cohen, but was truly given life as others adopted it — to the extent that it’s arguably ownerless. The book makes the strong case that the ubiquity of “Hallelujah” can in large part be attributed to the absence of a single canonical recording.

Some ubiquity is seasonal, those songs that disappear for most of the year, and then appear briefly as the calendar dictates. Scanner just posted a cover of his own — not of “Hallelujah,” but of another populist bit of spiritual yearning, “Silent Night.” To the extent that there’s a vocal, it’s him, aided by Zarina Kadirbaks, with additional drum programming from Poppadom BomBom:

And (note: streaming only, unlike the Scanner above) then there’s this trinket, dating from 1979. It’s a cover of “Silent Night” by Robert Fripp, whose Frippertronics technique is an essential part of the development of live electronic processing. According to the YouTube page where it was posted, this first appeared as a flexi-disc in the magazine Praxis (volume 1, number 3), and as a Christmas card from the label EG Records. The audio here is from the King Crimson EP Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream, which was released in 1995. What’s especially interesting about it is hearing the composition-by-layering approach intrinsic to Frippertronics applied to a traditional melody:

Scanner cover originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/scanner, and the Fripp is streaming at youtube.com. (The latter located thanks to a Facebook post by Paul Ashby.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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