Gavin Bryars: The Sinking Of The Titanic / Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (CD, Virgin, 1998)

I am somewhat in love with The Sinking Of The Titanic, especially the 2007 version on Touch played by Alter Ego with the wonderful Philip Jeck doing turntable magic. So I was interested to hear this earlier recording by The Cockpit Ensemble plus tapes “prepared” in a physics department, produced by Brian Eno in 1975. It’s about a third of the length, and a good deal sparser. I do like it, but I have to say I prefer the more fully realized Touch version.

I primarily bought this for the B-side. Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet is based around a tape recording of a man — someone who was described, in less polite times, as “an old tramp” — singing a hymn. The loop goes round pretty much without changing for the piece’s 26 minutes, while various instruments play a simple accompaniment, “in a restrained way, without pomp or show” (in Bryar’s instructions). It’s very understated, very honest, and very affecting.

I bought this from Langton Info.

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