A Big Box of Nothing

One of the most infamous and pretentious “musical compositions” of the 20th century is undoubtedly John Cage’s “4’33.” That’s the one where musicians are to not play their instrument or make a sound for just over four and a half minutes. Basically it’s several minutes of silence. It’s as dimwitted and pompous to refer to it as a “composition” as it is to call a blank canvas a masterful painting, yet I’ve seen such things on the walls of MOMA. Such is the inanity of so much modern art.

But the audacity of “4’33” coupled with the gullibility of so many swallowers of anything considered avant-garde has given the non-composition an ongoing notoriety. And the ridiculousness continues with Mute Records’ upcoming vinyl box set, STUMM433, wherein over 50 of the label’s acts present their own interpretations of “4’33.” That’s correct, sir. This is apparently not a joke. Over 50 artists, including Depeche Mode, Looper, Wire, Goldfrapp, A Certain Ratio, Richard Hawley, Miranda Sex Garden, He Said, New Order, A.C. Marias, Laibach, Mick Harvey, Michael Gira, Fad Gadget, Erasure, Yann Tiersen and New Order (to name but a few), “covering” silence. On Mute Records. Get it? Maybe it is a joke…

In any event, it’s being promoted on Mute’s website as coming out sometime in May, with each act creating a visual to accompany its performance, and if you’re the type of person that is psyched about purchasing such an item, may I also interest you in some VIP accommodations for the music festival I’m putting on at a remote island in the Bahamas… Did I mention it’s gonna be crawling with supermodels?