Andy Warhol’s 1985 Empire is an eight hour forerunner of slow TV, filming the Empire State Building from dusk to the following dawn, and any attempt to create a new soundtrack to the film must also enter that slow mindspace and wallow in it. And that’s what Adkins does here- though the recorded product available to buy is only 50 minutes long, so we get selected highlights (if ‘highlights’ is an appropriate word) from across the reels, rather than the full-length experience.
Taking the idea of the building as a bell tower, and leading that into the idea of a nine-bell ringing sequence in which the pattern constantly changes and never repeats, has led Adkins into creating a nine-chord harmonic sequence built from piano- and Rhodes-style melodic notes and pads blended with ambient sounds recorded in other large spaces, with the latter elements fading away as it progresses as though to reflect the stillness descending (theoretically) on the city.
The result is beautifully mellow, calm and soporific and has gone straight onto my sleep playlist. It’s relaxing, and wallpaper-like if you want it to be, but with just enough detail and variation to keep it interesting. There’s a lush warm quality to it that can only be liked as an experience, far more perhaps than New York City itself.