The second volume in Autodigest's A Compressed History of Everything Ever Recorded focuses on live albums. What do live records all have in common? Applause. And so "Ubiquitous Eternal Live" is a 60-minute sound piece consisting of seamlessly mixed audience enthusiasm, nonstop. Imagine a marathon request for an encore after the megastar arena rock band of the day has signed off with a trademark "Thank you! Goodnight!" and walked off-stage. A drone lingers on in the PA system (later joined by water sounds -- are those taken from Yessongs?) as the crowd expresses its admiration and requests one more song. But the band doesn't come back. And the audience just won't quit. If anything, the clapping and cheering get louder. Some chanting is also heard. And after 40 minutes or so, the screaming begins -- not just cheering and whistling, but actual screaming. Things escalate to a point where someone dropping in on you at around the 50-minute mark will think that you are listening to a ritual mass murder, as a crowd of several hundred thousand cheer on at the slaughter of one victim after another. The mood has gradually shifted from jubilation to macabre horror and the picture of a crowd cheerfully asking their beloved stars to deliver them another song has mutated into an image of countless animals being led to the slaughterhouse. The effect is as striking as it is tiresome. Actually, this album is the kind of conceptual art you appreciate once, meditate over twice, show off to friends thrice, and then leave on the shelf. But if you have a grudge against stadium concerts where the performer is nothing more than a speck of light in the distance and all you can hear clearly is the applause, this unclassifiable album might turn out to be one of your weirder guilty pleasures.
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