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The Sinking of the Titanic (Live, 2017)

Performed March 26 at the Big Ears Festival by composer Gavin Bryars' ensemble

Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic was the very first release on Brian Eno’s mid-1970s record label, Obscure Records. The album, from 1975, also included “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet,” which became better known in the subsequent decades than the title composition, in part perhaps because its structure — a minimalist work built on a fragment of a homeless man’s singing — bears resemblance to the decade older “It’s Gonna Rain” by Steve Reich, and later certainly because of a celebrity reworking when Bryars re-recorded it with Tom Waits performing the vocal. Sinking of the Titanic is a very different work from “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet.” It’s a slow-motion chamber performance in which the ensemble performs an act of veritable theater, the piece intended to suggest the sound of a band playing as the ship goes down. This three-part video was apparently shot at the recent Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, Tennessee, on March 26, 2017, a Sunday. The videos are from the excellent account of Seijin Lee, who has access to an incredible and ever expanding catalog of live shows. I created the little playlist so the three parts can be easily viewed in sequence.

Playlist of three videos is at YouTube. More on the event at bigearsfestival.com. More from Bryars at gavinbryars.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • By “Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet” Live on April 10, 2017 at 8:33 pm

    […] that recent posting of a three-part video showing Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic being performed live at the Big Ears festival, we now have the other half of that very same record album, the first from […]

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  • 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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