Aidan John Moffat has released a collection of Vine music videos, dubbed it an album and is now getting a bit of press for his efforts. At first glance the idea seems somewhat gimmicky but holds up under closer consideration much better than calling Beck's "Song Reader" an album. Perhaps it helps that Moffat's work is not burdened by the level of celebrity Beck has achieved which reduces almost all coverage of Beck to media noise.
Moffat's project, "The Eternalist," was released under his alternate music identity L. Pierre. He describes it on his website:
"Perhaps not an album in the strictest sense – it consists of eight (theoretically never-ending) loops with video and was made in Vine. For best results, search for LPierreMusic in the Vine app on your phone/device to find the exclusive L. Pierre profile page and listen from there, preferably with earphones...Vine is best – the video loops were created in Vine and the results are smoother and more precise."
He also mentions a Tumblr edition for quick, easy access.
Below is the third "track" titled "Spire":
Moffat says he began using the name L. Pierre for "ideas" that he developed when he "started taking an interest in Brian Eno’s ambient stuff."
At first he was going with Lucky Pierre, a term for the "man in the middle of a three-man bum-chain," but between various acts using the name and his own desire to be taken a bit more seriously, he reduced it to L. Pierre.
Note that I'm taking this explanation from one interview at face value without really knowing this guy's history. Once you drop into the land of art with a conceptual edge, it can be hard to know when you're being put on for art's sake or getting a straight explanation.
Whatever the case, as Marissa Cetin points out:
"a perk of the non-traditional format is Vine's endless looping, allowing the listener to decide how long the record is and creating a different, customizable listening experience."
So, despite the fact that each of the 8 tracks emerges from videos that are 6 seconds or shorter, it's not really a 48 second or less work for which Moffat is claiming album status. And, based on his post, the idea of it being an album seems primarily a tool to spur thought about the work.
Yet, when one spends some time with the concept and the music, it's easy to recognize that it is an exploration of the album form in a way that Beck's sheet music project is not. In fact, based on Beck's account in The New Yorker vs. the wave of coverage "Song Reader" received, referring to it as an album made it seem gimmicky in a manner that obscured the actual nature and depth of his project.
At the end of the day, these questions aren't that earth shattering at this point in time. Duchamp already pointed out that the urinal can be art when contextualized by a gallery. Cage already clarified that silence can be music if consciously attended to. Those projects helped shift human consciousness in a historical manner.
But, based on Moffit's brief post, L. Pierre's "The Eternalist" is a modest project that turns away from big statements and bold headlines. For my part, it's allowing me a bit of room to think in a manner that makes productive use of the term "album" and has sparked my interest in both L. Pierre and Aidan John Moffat.
[Thumbnail image of "Eyes of an Angry Buddhist" courtesy Clay Richards.]
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Hypebot Senior Contributor Clyde Smith (@fluxresearch/@crowdfundingm) also blogs at Flux Research and Crowdfunding For Musicians. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.