There comes a moment in any effective musical performance when the various musicians share a moment of collective synchronicity, when the uniting of personalities and talents conveys not only to one another but also to the audience that something magical is happening onstage. In Dead Territory’s performance of John Cage’s infamous avant-garde silent composition, “4’33”,” that moment happens at the halfway point, when the band’s drummer hits the bell of a cymbal, and all five members suddenly seem to be in unison. It’s an impressive feat, considering they’ve been standing there in total silence for the previous two minutes and change.
The cover is a year old, but was recently publicized by NPR’s All Songs TV, in large part because it’s a great reminder that Cage’s conceptual experiment in silence—and noticing just how different silence can be in various milieu—is hardly restricted to pianists and orchestras. Dead Territory, with its distortion-pedal fuzz and other ambient noise, shows that heshers and headbangers can make their own form of silence just as effectively as the bespoke-suited, arched-eyebrows set. Or, if that seems like pretentious horseshit, you can enjoy the fact that Cage was also in on the fun. As NPR notes, it’s “another in a long line of 4’33” performances that understand Cage had a sense of humor while expanding our musical universe.”