Bull of Heaven

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Bull of Heaven, the Colorado-based duo of Clayton Counts (a former Chicago dj, half blind) and Neil Keener, specialized in extremely huge quantities of music, in particular in extremely long, droning and repetitive compositions. In their first year alone they released over 300 hours of music, starting with the guitar-droning pieces 001 Weed Problem (2008) and especially 002 He Is Not Dead, but Sleepeth (2008), an idea later improved with the two-hour 011 Spacewalking Your New Way Home. They briefly toyed with melodic loops a` la new-age music, e.g. 004 Reasoning in State Hospital (2008) and especially 005 A Lovely Pear (2008), but soon converged towards a lo-fi form of ambient music with 009: First Our Pleasures Die (2008), culminating perhaps with 018 Candles Green, Heads and Skulls (2008). They toyed with "rhythm" in 016 Get Tree Body and in the eight-hour piece 019 Hypnosis, Drugs, and Mind Control. Thanks to Counts's computer wizardry, the duration of their "recordings" kept expanding with the 24-hour piece 028 Even to the Edge of Doom, the 37-hour piece 044 A Corpse in My Arms on Awakening, and the 168-hour piece 045 The Wicked Cease From Struggling. Between April and May 2009 they released the 100-song series titled in Roman numerals. Between September 2009 and January 2010 they released the Aleph series, consisting of millions of pieces. In December 2009 they released a piece that is over two-month long, The three pieces from 200 to 202 (2010) compose the "Air Conditioner Trilogy", one of the many ventures in recording the noise of objects (013 Elsa are you in There? of 2008 being perhaps the best one). 118 The Chosen Priest and Apostle of Infinite Space. In June 2010 they released the "hexadecimal" series of thousands of short compositions. July 2010 saw the release of the 38-day piece 208 As You Etch on the Inner Window of Your Eye, the 4723-hour piece 209 Blurred With Tears and Suffering Beyond Hope and the 50,000-hour (i.e. 5.7-year long) piece 210 Like a Wall in Which an Insect Lives and Gnaws. They expanded on that concept in March 2011 with a piece that would require 8,462,937,602,125,701,219,674,955.2362595095 years simply to self-assemble, 260 lcm(2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37,41,43,47,53,59,61,67,71,73,79,83). In between, they even released three pieces with a negative duration (e.g. 213 is minus 4 hours and 39 minutes long), as well as sound collages like 221 The Usual Manifestations of Suspicion Were Heightened. They also produced some more "musical ambient pieces like 227 Szeretlek, Te Mocskos Kis Kurva 236 Pitiless Light Over the Stony Landscape. Then came a series of loops culminating with 260: lcm(2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37,41,43,47,53,59,61,67,71,73,79,83) . They turned to (their own version of) free jazz with 261 A Feeling for the Order Lying Behind the Appearance and to field recordings of natural sounds with the seven-hour 275 The Snow and the Little Wood Under the Blue Sky. In December 2011 they released the 29-million hour 286 0 and the 87-trillion hour 287 n; and in 2014 the 86,370,000,000-year piece 302 It is Part of Space and Time and 310, designed to last 3.343 quindecillion years. Needless to say, none of their extralarge compositions was ever performed in its entirety, and it's debatable whether they were meant to be performed and listened to. Counts simply wanted to create the longest compositions ever, and at some point he must have realized that it's always possible to conceive an even longer one: the catch is how to make every second matter, which is why he became obsessed with prime numbers. These pieces were a continuation of the Dada idea of implementing transgressive ideas for no other reason than they are possible, and a way of bringing and testing John Cage's aesthetics to its extreme consequences.

Clayton Counts died of an opiate overdose in December 2016.

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