Artist: Wladimir Schall plays Erik Satie
Title: Vexations
Format: Endless MC
Release date: 17.12.2019
Order: bandcamp


The endless tape comes in a limited, hand-numbered edition of 84 copies, packaged in a folded paper sleeve with green printing. Design by Meeuw. Caution: the tape may only be played from the printed side, otherwise it is destroyed forever.


Erik Satie's piano miniature “Vexations” (1893) is deemed one of the most radical pieces in music history, and arguably the first conceptual composition ever. It consists of one short theme and two variations that unfurl a strangely absent mood which hovers somewhere between late romantic and twelve-tone music. The most unusual aspect about it is the playing instruction: “In order to play the theme 840 times in succession, it would be advisable to prepare oneself beforehand, and in the deepest silence, by serious immobilities.”

In 1963, John Cage arranged the first public performance of “Vexations” following exactly Satie's instructions. It lasted nearly 18 hours and 40 minutes.

In 2020, Monsieur Wladimir Schall approached Gagarin Records with the idea to record the two minutes piece on an endless tape cassette. This kind of tape – originally manufactured for old answering machines – makes it possible to listen to the piece without pause, until the last magnetic information is worn off or your neighbour has broken into your door.

There are many theories about the idea behind the composition. Undoubtedly, “Vexations” thematizes time itself. One can move in it like in a sound installation. The Gagarin Committee thinks of it as one of Satie's serious jokes: a witty Gedankenspiel hiding a deep melancholy. A pause of joy or painful stalling – you decide.

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Wladimir Schall is a conductor, orchestrator and Musique Concretist from Paris who is obsessed with loud silences, digital despair and Erik Satie. His research is at the intersection of conceptual art, intangible sculptures and the refining of acoustic non/senses. Touching both the fields of digital immediacy and analog evanescence, Mister Schall spreads Schall like Spores.
His obsession with Erik Satie's peculiar piece “Vexations” led to intense practising at a tiny rehearsal room in New York: “At the time, I was training to play it for hours without stopping (…) as I wanted to perform it in one shot for 30 hours or more for the Lot Radio in NYC. It was a physically and mentally very challenging experience – but also quite amazing, as I started to experience symptoms like hallucinations (visual and acoustic ones) as well as muscle cramps and dizziness. One day, on my way to the rehearsal studio, I decided to actually play the piece infinitely by putting it on an endless cartridge tape."
That's how this release came about.


Track list

Vexations (2 minutes endless loop)