First published in the Guardian on 3 August, 2017
In 1917, Erik Satie coined the term ‘musique d’ameublement’ (‘furniture music’) in a radical stunt of deadpan performance art. “It’s new!” he wrote in his manuscript. “It isn’t tiring! It isn’t boring!” Satie’s rogue irony pre-empted Muzak by several decades and set in motion (or anti-motion) the slow cogs of ambient music and experimental minimalism. Then there’s the dross. The most callous kind of crossover saps the integrity of both forms crossed. Decca — once a stamp of prestige, now part of the Universal label group that cashes in on insipid ‘neo-classical’ or ‘indie-classical’ or whatever — releases the next in its Re:Works series with this grim chill-out collection of electronic remixes. Cheerless, senseless and overproduced, it smothers the remaining life out of Pachelbel’s Canon, weirdly straitjackets Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata and trashes the maverick surrealist stasis of Satie’s Gymnopodies and Gnossiennes. It’s not new, it is tiring, it is very boring.