In the summer of 2022, at home in Toronto, I performed 840 times the last chord of Satie’s Vexations one note at a time (track 2) and then all at once (track 7). The piano was not in tune and I am not a pianist.
The album title references Erik Satie but also alludes to the acronym for the search for extraterrestial intelligence (Seti), and the Buddhist term meaning mindfulness (Sati). The subtitle (‘My mother, musician, is dead’) references a 1984 book by Louis Wolfson titled Ma mère, musicienne, est morte de maladie maligne à minuit, mardi à mercredi, au milieu du mois de mai mille977 au mouroir Memorial à Manhattan. And it is also true in my case, my mother was a pianist.
The point of origin for this project was recorded live on air at CKUT-FM in Montréal in 1992. Impromptu, in keeping with Satie’s instructions for Vexations, I counted to 840 while a vinyl recording of the piece played repeatedly, thanks to a closed groove, the final chord of the composition. Then, during an 840 minutes-long performance, I used two copies of the 1992 radio piece on two reel-to-reel players to do 840 edits using 840 razor blades (I spliced randomly from one tape to the other) (tracks 5, 6). The performance was presented at the Khyber Center for the Arts in Halifax in 1995. It also featured Kim Dawn and Lukas Pearse and was advertised by 840 numbered posters. The razor blades were first presented as part of Trou, a solo survey exhibition curated by Nicole Gingras, Galerie de l’UQAM, Montréal, 2006. The remaining tracks (1, 3, 4) combine the 1992 and 2022 versions in various ways.
1. Sous (In order to play 840 times)
2. Piano (The motif in succession)
3. Drone (It would be advisable to prepare)
4. Carnaval (Oneself beforehand)
5. Radio (And in the most absolute silence)
6. Origine (By some serious)
7. Accord (Immobilities)