Write Here, Write Now: 8.3 – Losing My Breath

Phil Retrospector – Losing My Breath. Breathing new life.

Some mash-up artists create sound collages, it seems to me, as a musical joke – the joy and pleasure of unpredictable linkages between songs. The first two blogs this month would fit that category, to an extent.

Phil Retrospector, on the other hand, seems to aim for the beauty of the musical combinations. On this track, the combination being between REM’s ‘Losing My Religion‘ and SIA’s ‘Breath Me‘.

I had to research to find out about the SIA song, as I’d never heard of it before. Playing the track revealed that almost the whole music for ‘Losing My Breath‘ was taken from it, apart from a snatch of plainsong about two thirds through. It was evident from the first couple of bars that the entirety of Michael Stipe’s words were taken for the track’s vocals, with nothing from SIA.

Losing My Religion being, for me, such an overplayed song in its original version, it was refreshing to hear it with a completely different musical bed. Although it sounds like it’s recording Stipe in a large bathroom, in all other respects, it leaves his vocals as they were when sing with the rest of REM. The words are clearly audible even if that isn’t important due to their intense familiarity.

More than that, it isn’t important, as, certainly after a few listens, the vocal becomes a bed for the more novel, to me, music accompanying it. Probably if I read as familiar with the SIA song as with that from REM, there would be further interesting nuanced to enjoy from the juxtaposition of the two songs. As it is, I just enjoy the awareness that it is, like the REM song, about uncertainty, anomie and an appeal to the listener for comfort and reassurance.

The idea of the two songs being in dialogue, duetting on a shared theme is very appealing and makes the track resonate with significance, like the links between the long spiral ladders of DNA.

I’m hoping the rest of the month will continue to reveal such rewarding synergies.



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