Weirdest. Box Set. Ever(?)

In 1952, composer John Cage starting thinking about creating a truly different musical piece. The result was “4’33“” (pronounced “four minutes and thirty-three seconds”), a three-movement composition consisting of exactly…nothing.

When performed live, the musicians just sit at their instruments and play nothing. The purpose is for the audience to listen to the sounds of the environment of the performance space. Call it an exercise in mindfulness.

Musicologists have called this Cage’s most important work. You can buy the piece on iTunes (99 cents) and Cage’s estate has successfully sued pretenders/parodists for copyright infringement.

Still, there’s no getting around the fact that “4’33″” is mostly silence. Perfect for a star-studded box set, right?

Mute Records has just announced a new box set featuring some big names, er, covering “4’33”.” That includes Depeche Mode, New Order, Moby, Afghan Whigs, Cold Specks, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth, Erasure–more than 50 in all.

In addition to the recordings submitted, each artist was also asked to provide some kind of visual to go along with their, um, performance.

Here’s a sample from Laibach.

The collection–to be called STUMM433–will be released in May. (Via Exclaim!)

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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