Domesticated cats and dogs live about one-fifth, on average, as long as their human caretakers. They are little aware of the fact, however because their needs are being met. They are not concerned about an untimely death so they are not concerned with death at all. Fruit flies, on the other hand, live a mere two days, and so after about 36 hours of life begin to feel regret over opportunities they let pass, wondering if they have done what they could to leave their mark on the world. The poor little bugs suffer great anguish, being as they are unable to lift themselves from mental turmoil. They do not have the means to meditate, only to ruminate.
Such is the way time passes, forward but not — as we'd like to believe — at the same rate for all of us. It is well established though rarely reconciled (to pose another example) that a day for a child lasts longer than a day for an adult, making the wait for the school bell almost interminable. Similarly, an hour for a busy pianist moves much more quickly than for an all but unoccupied percussionist. It is these sorts of misaligned progressions that make our world ultimately impossible to understand, and which give rise to the mystic.
These progressions — or, rather, our cognitive inability to align such natural progressions — are what makes it possible for Karlheinz Stockhausen's Mantra — a set of compositions for two pianos and electronics — to move so slowly while being played, for the most part, quite quickly. Stockhausen had his own theories behind the workings of the music, a putting of four themes into a "galactic" framework, but — like the cosmic clock — his processes are not approachable for us. We can't know Stockhausen, we can only respond to Stockhausen. We can feel the momentum of Roderick Chadwick's and Mark Knoop's pianos in this pristine recording and register the only occasional pops and chimes of Newton Armstrong's electronics, but we can only respond to them as an envelope of time, a rendering of our understanding of the physical world. And as we have nothing more, this fine CD should be taken as solace, not grievance.
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