Mixtape #49 : Untitled

by 5:4

For the latest 5:4 mixtape, i’ve turned my attention to that most elusive of artistic statements, the untitled work. When i set out to assemble a shortlist of pieces in my library that had adopted the word ‘untitled’, it wasn’t immediately obvious what i’d find. Yet, with one or two exceptions and to varying extents, untitled tracks tended to yield a very particular type of soundworld: generally dark and/or monochrome in terms of their tone, tenor or palette, with slow, patient use and deployment of sound, often including extended periods of quietness, overall lending the music a pensive, deliberate quality. Above all, i found these pieces to be music highly abstract in character, and while use of the word ‘untitled’ can often provoke frustration when we encounter it in works of art (“doesn’t the artist know what they’re trying to say?”), the intangibility of such music seems to strongly justify the suitability of this word. However, artists use the word ‘untitled’ in ways that are as playful and deceptive as they can be aloof and distancing, and for this mixtape i’ve therefore included not only tracks that are simply untitled but also tracks that use the word ‘untitled’ as part of a longer title as well as untitled segments of larger titled works.

In the first hour, having begun with something of a red herring by Hecq, i’ve concentrated on calmer, darker examples that tend to focus on explorations of texture, from both static and variegated perspectives. Near the centre of the mix is the unexpurgated 15-minute Untitled Drone by Aidan Baker that isn’t just the highlight of his wonderful 2009 album Blue Figures, but one of the most beautifully coruscating exercises in slow-burning ambient that i’ve ever heard. In the wake of this, in the second half i’ve explored untitled tracks that are generally brighter and more colourful, introducing more beat- and pulse-based pieces, some of which even feature vocals (a real rarity in the world of ‘untitled’ music, it seems), and more overt use of instrumental sounds, both raw and cooked.

Throughout the mix, there’s a wide temperature range demonstrated in these pieces, from the warmth (not always gentle) and/or balmy intimacy found in pieces by, among others, Subsea, Zbigniew Karkowski & Kelly ChurkoJames Clarke, Sea Oleena, Ochre, Aphex Twin and 36 to the varying forms of chilly remoteness, some of it seriously aggressive, exhibited by the likes of Noto, CD-R, AutechreHelena Tulve, Nordvargr, Lethe and Christopher McFall & Ben Fleury-Steiner. And that playfulness i mentioned before – plus a fair amount of inscrutability – can be heard manifesting particularly in tracks by Natasha Barrett, John Wall & Alex Rodgers, Marc Behrens, DJ Yo-Yo Dieting, Øyvind Torvund and John Oswald.

Ultimately, though, i don’t want to labour these descriptive terms or indeed the putative aesthetic connections i’ve been making between them, as they may belie the fact, as i said at the outset, that these are above all strikingly abstract pieces of music, and their ostensible lack of a title (if indeed that is what it is) is perhaps all that needs to be said about them.

Two-and-a-half hours of unidentified musical objects; here’s the tracklisting in full, together with links to obtain the music (interesting to note how many of them are available free of charge: another ‘untitled’ connection…?). Due to the inherent ambiguity of some of the track titles, where relevant i’ve also included in the tracklisting the track numbers.
Hecq – Untitled03 (from A Dried Youth)
Jannick Schou – Untitled 1 (from When Life Mirrors Itself – free download)
Noto – Untitled [excerpt] (track 4 from Mikro Makro)
Subsea – Untitled (track 2 from Untitled V – free download)
Natasha Barrett – Untitled Two (from Peat+Polymer)
Francisco López – Untitled 211 (from Redrawn – soccer Committee & Machinefabriek remixed and covered)
John Oswald – Untitled (track 11 from Plunderphonic)
CD-R – Untitled [excerpt] (from Hide and Seek – free download)
Zbigniew Karkowski & Kelly Churko – Untitled [excerpt] (track 3 from Infallibilism)
Autechre – Untitled [excerpt] (track 0 (hidden track) from EP7)
John Wall & Alex Rodgers – Untitled [excerpt] (track 2 from Work 2006-2011)
Jennifer Walshe – Untitled (excerpt) (1910) by Ultan O’Farrell [excerpt] (from Aisteach: the Avant Garde Archive of Ireland – free download)
Marc Behrens – Untitled (for Lida) [excerpt] (from Compilation Works 1996-2005 – free download)
James Clarke – Untitled No. 3 [excerpt] (from Works for Piano Solo)
Aidan Baker – Untitled Drone (track 3 from Blue Figures – free download)
Mikhail – Untitled In CoF Minor (from Orphica)
Helena Tulve – Sans titre [excerpt] (from Sula)
Onuka – Untitled (from Onuka)
Sea Oleena – Untitled (from Sleeplessness – free download)
The Experience – Untitled [excerpt] (track 13 from One Amazing Day – free download)
Ochre – Untitled [excerpt] (track 0 (hidden track) from Lemodie)
Aphex Twin – Untitled [lichen] (disc 2 track 8 from Selected Ambient Works Volume II)
Nordvargr – Toroidh – Untitled [excerpt] (from Enter Nordvargr + – free download)
FURT – Untitled (track 8 from angel)
Brothomstates – Untitled [excerpt] (Untitled – free download)
Krasius – Untitled Pony (from Selected Waffle Works – free download)
RK Faulhaber – Untitled (First Texture Music Demonstration: The Lab, San Francisco 13 December 2008) [excerpt] (disc 2 track 4 from 10 Studies Of Texture Music – Deluxe Edition)
Seventeen Migs of Spring & mise_en_scene – Untitled #17 (from Leftovers (Reworked) – free download)
Yui Onodera – Untitled (track 5 from Entropy)
Andy Graydon – Untitled (fold) [excerpt] (from Frame, Fault, Fold – free download)
36 – Untitled (track 12 from Hypersona)
Thomas Adès – The Origin of the Harp – IV. [Untitled] (from Living Toys)
Lethe – Untitled [excerpt] (disc 1 track 2 from Catastrophe Point #7 & #8)
Pierre Henry – Musique sans titre – Cinquième Mouvement (from Premier Panorama de Musique Concrète)
Christopher McFall & Ben Fleury-Steiner – Untitled [excerpt] (track 3 of 3 from The Dirty and the Clean – free download)
Unknown Artist – Untitled (from Spiral #3)
DJ Yo-Yo Dieting – Untitled [excerpt] (track 11 from Blest Witches Flexing)
Hecq – Untitled01 (from A Dried Youth)
Andrew Liles – Untitled [excerpt] (from Love Song)
Øyvind Torvund – untitled school no. 2 (textures) (from Yarn/Wire/Currents Vol. 2 – free download)
John Oswald – Untitled (track 22 from Plunderphonic)

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Click here to respond and leave a commentx