This is a very unusual work, with two 30-minute tracks, each of which has a 2-bar melody that repeats all the way through. Does this work? First, let me describe how AM radio works.
There is a carrier radio wave, at a certain frequency. The number of the station refers to its carrier-wave frequency. So if you tune your radio to AM 830, that’s a station with a carrier signal at 830 kHz. Your radio generates a wave at this frequency, and some circuitry detects the difference between that and the incoming signal. The signal coming in has sound information encoded in it, on top of the carrier wave.
So the carrier wave functions as a zero point, and the sounds are generated by differences between the signal and the original carrier wave. This album seems to function in this way. The repeating melodies are the carrier wave, and should fade from focus in your consciousness. That sets the mood and atmosphere, and the things that change around it are where the music is.
So to answer the question, “Does it work,” I have to say, “yes.”
The liner notes say this work is a result of trying to recapture the feeling of riding a train late at night, while listening to Michael Mantra’s A/B record. You can hear recordings of trains, as well as A/B “bleeding through the mix”.
This is really an hour-long journey with two atmospheres, and I recommend it. Just approach it with the right mindset: focusing on those melodies will drive you nuts!
The liner notes also recommend headphones (I agree; this is definitely headphone music), and not listening to it while driving or operating heavy machinery.
In closing, I’ll pass on a quirk of my experience with it. I find it very hard to hear the bass drum in AbA on the beat; it sounds like it’s on the offbeat. But once it switches in my head, it then remains on the downbeat. It usually switches when I pause it due to an interruption, or if my mind has drifted sufficiently.
You Tube sample:
At time of writing, this is still available at the Silentes shop on CD.