Review Summary: Who are we, why are we here?
There is a word in the Hebrew Bible known as tohu wa bohu. Those who are familiar with Godspeed You! Black Emperor's music may know of said word as the album art upon Slow Riot for New Zero Kanada
. This strange Hebrew word is among the first within the Bible. It is said to translate to the word formless, or the word void. However, the exact meaning of the word is still not entirely known by even the greatest of Hebrew scholars. This word is the beginning of one of the oldest Creation Stories known to mankind, yet its actual meaning is not entirely known. It is a mystery. I find that this strange word can easily tie into humanity. Humanity does not quite know what it is, and it never will.
I was sitting on a hill the other night. It was rather windy outside, and the clouds looked heavy with snow. A few bright stars shone through the clouds, as if they were trying to poke their heads above water. From where I was sitting, I could see the entire city of Parker, Colorado in the distance. I could see cars traveling tirelessly to and fro, street lights changing colors, and people turning off their lights for a night of rest. I began to think, and I began to wonder. As people, who are we? Do we ever really know who we are? Do we know what we are or what we stand for? I began to wonder if tohu wa bohu stood for us. We will never know who we are, we are always in search of that unreachable goal, we die in an attempt to know ourselves. We are formless and void, we cannot even identify the meaning within our own lives.
Elsa, Are You in There?
is an odd piece by an odd band. Bull of Heaven, the name behind this song, is rather mysterious. I have no idea who is behind the music, nor do I know quite what genre they are. One could classify them as drone, or ambient, I suppose. Nonetheless, they have released hundreds, if not thousands, of extremely experimental tracks. One of which is 50,000 hours long, the equivalent of 5.7 years. Bull of Heaven uses massive amounts of sampling and looping equipment, creating rather minimalistic, yet touching songs. Elsa, Are You in There?
makes use of samples. In fact, that's all this forty-two minute long song is comprised of. Using old voicemail messages directed to a woman by the name of Elsa, this track plays over what seems like years of old phone calls. There is an entire lack of instrumentation in this album. The only presence of any musical element within this mammoth of a song is a very slow moving ambient swell present behind the ghostly voices of people going about their daily lives.
What strikes me the most about this obscure track is how haunting it is. Elsa, Are You in There?
shows people going about their simple lives, it shows how formless we truly are. After listening to this song, if one could even call it such a thing, I realize how simply mundane and pointless our lives can be. Throughout the song, people leave messages about everything from common plans to their despair over going to a male strip club for a bachalorette party. The voices always sound, in an odd way, so empty and tired. After every voicemail message is relayed, an autonomic voice monotonously spills the date of the phone call. Elsa, Are You in There?
shows people in their truest, most honest form.
As the song drones on, and the listener has heard message after message, people begin to feel more like brooding apparitions than human beings. This track, Elsa, Are You in There?
, exemplifies the void existence that most human beings face. As people go through their daily lives, they leave the same messages over and over again. Though they make different phone calls, though they say different things, in the end, the concepts are all the same. Though unconventional in every imaginable way, Bull of Heaven has managed to craft an absolutely haunting and moving song. There is something oddly comforting, and oddly disturbing, about hearing human voices carry on about their despair and their happiness. Elsa, Are You in There?
is not an LP, it is not an EP, it is not even a proper song. Despite this, it is beautiful, and it is simplicity in its most moving form. People are haunting. So often, we feel meaningless.