The Rambler :: blog

Monday, March 01, 2004

Your call is important to us 

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Considering the way certain parts of my life (not the important ones, thank goodness) are falling apart at the moment (hello Macintosh, hello Outlook Express, hello Virgin net!), this could be the first in a regular Rambler series. But on the other hand, I'm sure we'd both rather rather it wasn't. Still, just as a laugh, let me present:

Call-waiting music of the week!

And congratulations to BT Openworld, whose post-modern collage approach to call-waiting music was pretty impressive; and a good thing too, since I had a good 15 minutes of it to listen to.

The extract I heard was loosely composed in three movements, corresponding to an ABA structure. However, after this point all comparisons with standard call-waiting music are meaningless. The two outer sections were based upon two different, but similar, balearic/trance house tunes; the second came with an added vocalist. The central section was shorter, and was built upon an MOR rock tune, which I'm guessing from the echoey voices beloved of late Beatles may have dated from the late 60s. It was also heavy on twangy guitar arpeggios.

In essence, this is fairly standard call-waiting fare, although it was striking that none of the three tracks were played in their entirety, but were abruptly sandwiched together. What was more striking, however, was an irregular ostinato composed of dialing tones, static clicks, and keypad bleeps, not unlike Saturo Wono's 'Overture', featured on The Wire Tapper 10 a few months ago. But, where Wono's sonic collage was composed entirely from phone noises, BT Openworld's effort was marked by the way in which these elements were crudely spliced over the more traditional call-waiting tunes in the background. Moreover, there seemed to be no discernible pattern to the repetitions of dial-tone (even the number of rings might vary), static or bleeping. At times, enough backing music would be heard to lull you into listening to it fully, only to be rudely interrupted by an electronic outburst. At other times, the bursts themselves seemed to take on a certain regularity which would itself suggest some formal musicality, only to be disrupted by the backing music, or an additional dial tone ring, say. By simultaneously creating a false sense of security in expectation of a musical development in the backing tracks, or an answered call in the foreground collage, and at the same time dismantling that security as it happens before your ears, BT Openworld's call-waiting music is an impressively thorough commentary on the whole Beckettian tragicomedy that is customer services*. It is a meta-call waiting work of the highest order. Just a shame that the chap who finally answered the phone was no help to me.

*Pace, Scott!

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