The Sound And Scent Of Silence: Mute’s 4’33 Project

Exclusive Mockups for Branding and Packaging Design

John Cage’s 4’33 is covered by a plethora of artists for a new box set.

We’re a little late to the table on this one, but no one else seems to be discussing it, so what the hell… Mute Records have this month issued quite the box set, especially for those of you who appreciate the gaps between songs on a record more than the actual music.

STUMM433 is a box set as part of the MUTE 4.0 (1978 > TOMORROW) project, based around John Cage’s revolutionary (or ‘King’s New Clothes’ piss take) work 4’33, which – as I’m sure you know – is entirely silent. For this new edition, no less than 58 artists, including many Reprobate favourites – A Certain Ratio, A.C. Marias, ADULT., The Afghan Whigs, Alexander Balanescu, Barry Adamson, Ben Frost, Bruce Gilbert, Cabaret Voltaire, Carter Tutti Void, Chris Carter, Chris Liebing, Cold Specks, Daniel Blumberg, Danny Briottet, Depeche Mode, Duet Emmo, Echoboy, Einstürzende Neubauten, Erasure, Fad Gadget, Goldfrapp, He Said, Irmin Schmidt, Josh T. Pearson, K Á R Y Y N, Komputer, Laibach, Land Observations, Lee Ranaldo, Liars, Looper, Lost Under Heaven, Maps, Mark Stewart / Sonskrif / The New Banalist Orchestra, Michael Gira, Mick Harvey, Miranda Sex Garden, Moby, Modey Lemon, Mountaineers, New Order, Nitzer Ebb, NON / Boyd Rice, Nonpareils, The Normal, onDeadWaves, Phew, Pink Grease, Pole, Polly Scattergood, Richard Hawley, ShadowParty, Silicon Teens, Simon Fisher Turner and Edmund de Waal, The Warlocks, Wire, Yann Tiersen and Gareth Joneshave ‘covered’ this seminal track, with the results spread across five clear vinyl LPs. For once, collectors might well be justified in never actually playing the records, though the tracks are not entirely silent, as this version by The Normal shows:

But it’s certainly a desirable package, also containing a 12 inch laminated booklet (no words on whether in contains any text or images, but let’s hope so), and a set of six scented candles, designed by award-winning perfumer Joseph Quartana of Six Scents Parfums, containing the ‘scent of silence’. There’s also a certificate of authenticity, signed by Mute boss Daniel Miller, and it all comes in a funky looking PVC box.

Obviously, we’ve mocked this project somewhat. Equally obviously, we’re very much lusting after one. Call us shallow – but we do love a ptretentious art project. And it has, of course, sold out at £220 a pop. You can, however, get the less extravagantly packaged CD version for £30, which seems a bargain – just over 50p a track!

Anyway, it’s not just about naked commercialism –  profits from the release will be split between the British Tinnitus Association and Music Minds Matter, charities chosen to honor Inspiral Carpets’ founding member Craig Gill who suffered from anxiety and depression as a result of his tinnitus in the years up to his untimely death. That seems a worthwhile thing.