Just in Time for the Holidays: Cage Against the MachineBy BEN SISARIO
The musicians crowded into a London studio, dozens of them, to record a song for charity. Waiting for their cue, they held guitars and drumsticks, and stood at attention by the microphones. Then the producer gave the count: “Quiet in the studio: one, two …”
And then silence. Exactly 4 minutes and 33 seconds of it.
The musicians, including British pop stars like Billy Bragg, the electronic act Orbital and the band Enter Shikari, were there to perform John Cage’s famous tribute to nothingness, “4’ 33”,” as part of a project cheekily called Cage Against the Machine whose goal is to send an unlikely song to the top of the British pop chart at Christmas.
Last year a Facebook campaign helped the anarchist American rock band Rage Against the Machine reach No. 1 with “Killing in the Name,” and now another Web effort is behind Cage Against the Machine. A single is available on iTunes (you can even buy an EP with seven “remixes” of studio chatter and other random sounds), with proceeds going to five British charities.
“Music is made up of more than just formal notes and arrangements,” Julie Hilliard, one of the organizers, told the musicians as they prepared for their silent take. “Here today we are doing something special. We are stopping and appreciating the space between things, the unintentional sounds that make up our world.”
A video of the recording sessions can be seen above or here on YouTube.