Battery Yates

Battery Yates
Battery Yates, Sausalito, CA

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Gimme Shelter

A Review of Ludovico Einaudi's work, exemplified by In a Time Lapse and In a Time Lapse (The Remixes) (2013)

I recently described the past week to a friend as like a hurricane. It swept in quickly but not without some advance warning; was devastating in its toll on my mental and spiritual energy; and had moments of calm amid its thrashing waves.

Part of the reason I felt this first week of the fall term so intensely, I think, is that I've become more introverted over the past few months. I feel more disconnected from students than is usual at the start of a semester--perhaps the result of my evolving administrative responsibilities in the Study Abroad Office. (I did feel relief from this scary isolation, though, when I advised a group of thoughtful and energized first-years on Friday.)

The soundtrack of my introversion this summer has been Ludovico Einaudi's In a Time Lapse, along with its remix spinoff and a few of his other albums (including Divenire, Nightbook, and Elements). I first discovered Einaudi's work when I stumbled across the following video, a short film based on "Experience," one of the "singles" from In a Time Lapse:

Leigh instantly labeled this short-form piece as either "presh" or "up its own butt," I don't remember. Neither is positive, and at first I didn't agree, given the sheer beauty of Einaudi's composition. Over time I've come around reluctantly to his view about the film itself but fortunately not of its soundtrack.

I fell in love with Einaudi's "Experience" as I do with a lot of songs: I listen to it over and over and over and over and over until Leigh can't stand it anymore but I continue to listen. That's a good test: can it stay in my mind and my iPhone AAA playlist for over a month or so. It has. It's still there, although in modified form. I'm listening currently to the Greta Svabo Bech remix from the reprise Einaudi released later in 2013:

Einaudi's music in general has an epic quality to it reminiscent to me of Audiomachine, leavened a bit with the minimalism of Philip Glass. It's dark, or at least showcases a lot of anxious and tense themes. I haven't been attracted to music like this in a while. In college, I was obsessed with Aimee Mann (still my favorite artist) but moved on to more upbeat acoustic folk rock in grad school, with Catie Curtis perhaps most representative of my taste.

Lately, though, I've found comfort in Einaudi's existentialism. I have no doubt whatsoever that this insane election year has contributed in part to my cynicism. I can't say I like this shift and have worked against it. Hurricane Fall Term hasn't helped, either. My shelter has been commiseration with In a Time Lapse: "Walk," "Run," and "Time Lapse" at varying weeks this summer, with "Experience" the baseline go-to.

Music has a tendency to define varying periods of my life. Aimee Mann, for example, always will define my college blue period; Annie Lennox's romantic solo work my early infatuation-turned-love for Leigh. Einaudi now will define my struggle to find meaning after striving for years toward a class of my own (Global Citizenship) and a job of which I am immensely proud (Assistant Director of Study Abroad at Kansas State). My professional boxes "checked," so to speak, and my marriage to Leigh and family life with Chico deeply fulfilling, I seek a new challenge. As the hurricane blows overhead, Einaudi has gifted me with a temporary shelter.

My Rating: Favorite, 10 out of 10