Sam Kidel

Disruptive Muzak

The Death Of Rave RAVE014
  • LP : REPRESS! Black Vinyl
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Sam Kidel’s debut for The Death of Rave is a deft subversion of muzak’s meaning, application and affect, employing government call centres as unwitting agents in a stroke of Cagean and Kafkaesque compositional genius. It’s a remarkably innovative, emotive and incisive 20 minute sound piece (with an additional 20 minute version on the other side) that reflects and refracts an aspect of the modern world in a way that arguably few other records have achieved.

In aesthetic, Disruptive Muzak highlights a range of ambient, electro-acoustic and aleatoric composition techniques intersecting classical minimalism, dub and vaporwave spheres, all whilst revealing a spectrum of regional British accents commonly heard in call centres, yet seldom heard on record, certainly in this context However, from other angles it’s not difficult to hear Disruptive Muzak’s tacit questioning of our relationship with music and technology, economics and socio-politics in the UK right now: in the midst of right wing policy delivering swingeing benefits cuts and zero-hours contracts which damage those on the margins most, and a scenario where corporate composition and electronic sound form the blithely ubiquitous backdrop to capitalist realism.

By subtly but straight-facedly inverting the delivery and reception of muzak, Kidel subverts its meaning, hypnotically suspending the listener in its lush, lingering sub bass swoops and piano motifs but, paradoxically beckoning the call centre staff and us listeners to pay attention to the subtext of what is normally considered background sound or noise.

Make no mistake, though: the artist is definitely not taking the piss out of call centre workers; if anything he’s highlighting a dreamy melancholy and detachment in their tedious roles and tortuous systems, one known from first-hand experience. We really don’t want to give it all away, but the way in which Kidel executes
the idea, both musically and conceptually by the time the final receiver drops the line, is little short of breathtakingly emotive and cathartic. Really not too early to call this record a classic in the making.

Sam Kidel: Disruptive Muzak

Disruptive Muzak Sam Kidel
Disruptive Muzak (DIY version) Sam Kidel

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