If you really love a piece of music, you don’t just remember it in sequence. You remember it in slices, bits that your brain plays on repeat, often without effort. You remember it in different keys. You remember it slower, faster, in a different time signature altogether. You remember segments played out of the original order, layered, yoked together through a compulsion for a different whole, or more to the point: in a new arrangement that prioritizes your ideal comprehension of the song, a jigsaw of desire.
To hear Alice Coltrane’s “Om Shanti” re-worked (the hyphen added to emphasize the newness, the apartness-from-the-original) by Peter Speer on the sparest of a modular synthesizer setup — just two pieces: a sampler and a tool to control the sampler — is to hear such a mental remapping, albeit here performed in realtime. It’s Speer’s consciousness manifesting in the physical world of dials and cables. Coltrane’s alternately sultry and mournful tonalities are stretched and echoed, turned into nano-washboard rhythms and deep cavernous spaces, all in fitting tribute to her otherworldly oeuvre. Grounding the effort are the modest, even mundane, maneuvers that Speer must enact over the course of the video to accomplish his goals.