The invention of the wheel was an occasion for much celebration, one that we still talk about today even if we don't know the name of the Mesopotamian craftsperson responsible. And of course the creation went through many developments on its way from wheelbarrow to Prius. Anthropologists, in fact, believe that the ceramist wheel predated the locomotive wheel by a good three centuries.
If we have no record of the R&D team's activities some 3,500 years ago, we certainly don't know the names of those who made less orthodox, maybe even artistic, use of the wheel, those who weren't interested in its utility but rather the ways it might be altered to reflect or suggest something about the world, their world. Surely they existed, though, those creators of curious objects who, for example, wanted to find a way to make a tower of wheels, undermining their essential mobility, or who carved the surface at an angle so it could only roll in a circle. And then, no doubt, there were those who relished in the imprecision of construction: the rough surfaces and the inexact placement of connecting shafts. In fact, it may well be that from the uncentered axle rose the fascination with irregular repetitions.
This is, of course, all speculation (though does it not seem obvious?) because, as noted above, all records are long since lost if any were kept in the first place. Fascination with that asynchronous clickety-clack, however, has re-emerged in the world of post-Feldman art sound, a lovely example of which is Magnus Granberg's How Deep is the Ocean, How High is the Sky?. A tentet of musicians works in not quite predictable cycles, rarely playing at the same moment in time, using a set of tools that spans centuries, from the baroque violin, chitarrone and viola de gamba to the prepared piano (played by the composer) and analogue synthesizer. With one musician playing percussion and another on electronics, and both of them plus a third credited with "objects," it's hard to guess the origin of the occasional, uneven ringing that anchors the piece like a nautical bell falling into irregular rhythms with the rocking of the boat, an image which calls to question the Mesopotamian origins of this quite beautiful record.
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