By Michael Getzler
Few songs focus as much on the experience of listening as this Four Tet remix of “Perpetual Surrender,” by the Toronto synth-pop group DIANA. It opens with a quiet drum loop that only slightly changes over the first couple minutes of the song—an added percussion here and there, a repeated breath coming in. A commenter on SoundCloud calls it “a drummer’s fantasy,” understandable considering how exciting a drummer must feel about a song that opens with minutes of drum-centered music. It is as if we are being shown the process of how the song itself is made—first the drums, then a layering of different sounds on top, one by one. All the parts are laid out before us, letting us focus on each sound and get a feel for it. By the time the lyrics come in at 3:28 (the duration of an average song already having gone by), the background noises are firmly entrenched in the listener’s mind. The reference to a “road well-traveled” in the very first line captures what a journey it has been up to that point.
As the lyrics progress, all the sounds come together to form a mosaic, punctuated by the occasional ladder of keys or the sax that comes in at the 5:15 mark. These can be appreciated so much more because the other sounds have solidified themselves for the listener. Each new sound stands out more and is all the more delectable for it. However, in direct contrast to how the song begins, the ending could not be more abrupt. The listener, comfortable in the layering pattern of the song, is jarred awake when, at 6:53, the music (most notably the drums, which have been going for the entirety) is suddenly stripped down to the vocals. A few seconds later, those are cut off in the middle of a line (“I need saving from my-“). The song has 11 seconds of silence at the end, during which the listener has time to recover from this sudden pulling out, and, longing to be slowly immersed in this mosaic once again, reach for the replay button.