How to Decompress (With the Help of Oliver Payne)

Oliver Payne possesses a rare quality for someone who has fought their way through a perilous art world for almost two decades — he’s chill. Despite representation by one of the most beloved galleries in New York, Gavin Brown's Enterprise, as well as a recent collaborative show at the legendary Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, he remains steadfastly stuck to the same ground as you and I.

One album universally loved by people of his ilk is The KLF’s ambient masterpiece Chill Out, an LP so important to him that he has crafted a whole garment line around it, Relaxing Clothes. He has also held Chill Out-themed events, where guests are forbidden from talking, taking photos, or touching their phones, all in the service of achieving a zen-like state through the power of audio. Over the years, my sporadic conversations with Payne have shifted wildly between topics as diverse as film director Werner Fassbinder and Grime MC Tinchy Strider, but he manages to draw philosophical lines between things that most would never dream of.

It’s all these qualities of character that led me to develop a small exercise for Oliver, something that might help us all get an insight into how we can better relax. I selected three films for him to view, each representing a different type of stress we might experience in the modern age. For each he has chosen a corresponding album that acts as the perfect tool to ease into a state of decompression after viewing, as well as providing an explanation as to why he chose each specific piece.

Film #1: Cache (2005)
Directed by Michael Haneke
Type of stress: The Loss of Privacy

I used to own a really expensive camera that I had won as a prize. I worried so much about losing that camera. Then one day I totally lost it. The relief was tremendous. I never had to worry about losing it again.

I feel the same way about my privacy now. If Zuckerberg covers his camera and mic, what hope is there for the rest of us? I say let's become one with google. The sooner we don't have to think about this shit the better. Come and get me.

MMM - Nous Sommes MMM

Film #2: World on a Wire (1973)
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Type of Stress: Questioning Reality

WOW is one of my favorite films. Perhaps it would be fitting to accompany it with something sci-fi and German — of which there is no shortage — the mighty E2-E4 would work. Fuck, even Tangerine Dream could work. Try Blue Heron radio. I used to listen to this one called DOJO but it went off air. Then Blue Heron showed up and it has a similar playlist. I suspect it may be the same people behind it. There is something weird about listening to pre-recorded radio. Simply knowing that someone else can be listening to the same broadcast at the exact moment is very comforting. Radio on demand further separates us from our fellow man. The music is playing but it's not really playing. It’s a simulacrum of the experience of listening to the radio. The real cigarettes are elsewhere.

Film #3: Rebels of the Neon God (1994)
Directed by Tsai Ming - liang
Type of Stress: Relationship Issues

This is perhaps the most tender and beautiful piece of music I have ever heard. I don't advise listening to it particularly often. Pretend it’s a dubplate which can only be played a certain number of times.

When it plays, the camera of my brain floats upwards and sees all the souls floating above us like balloons. The Big Bang is still happening and every single thing is part of its exhaust. Me, You, Arvo Part, the keys on a piano, the notes vibrating in the air.

Arvo Part - Spiegel im Spiegel