This is a first recording of a reconstruction of the earliest (1924) version for sixteen synchronised player pianos, 2 grand pianos, seven percussionists (4 xylophones, 4 bass drums, tam tam, pitched electric bells, siren and aeroplane propellers) which was never performed (because impossible at the time). It was a reduced version that caused such a sensation at its premiere in Paris. This realisation was made possible, finally, through computer and midi power (to co-ordinate those 16 player pianos). An historic recording of a groundbreaking work. The rest of the CD contains other pieces for player pianos, percussion and electronics by John Cage and Lou Harrisson, Richard Grayson, Amadeo Roldan and Felix Mendelssohn (a version of the presto from the 4th Symphony remade for 16 player pianos). Classic.
Written for theatre in 2003, this is another of Ashley's voice dramas with 'electronic orchestra' accompaniment. He, Joan La Barbara and 'Blue' Gene Tyranny feature, with three other singers. Minimal open and riff-based musical structures ground layers of speech, quasi singing and choral interventions. There are some extraordinary moments as Ashley abandons all musical distinctions and glosses pop, minimalism and quasi lounge in a dreamy suspension clouded around his eccentric, conversational, texts. Maybe not something you'd listen to all the way through more than once, but unique; odd and fascinating. Comes with a 108 pp book with full texts.
Travelling in from different planets, Ashley and the world's rappers agree to aestheticise logorrhoea, shock-jockery and loose language and to keep those texts a-coming (there are 84pp in the accompanying libretto book). Two speakers and a host of ghost voices and a synthesised 'orchestra', all hovering around single tones create a hypnotic, often funny, vicious, strangely gripping linear streams of sound/speech. The nuance is all in shadows and hints and fleeting references. No one else is doing anything like this and it's fascinating to see Ashley re-emerge with such a highly evolved, unplaceable but fascinating form pitched somewhere outside opera, rap, theatre, music and bar talk. Try this one. CD and book in slipcase.
For an electric orchestra of 42 sound producing modules... violin scrape and pizzicato type sounds mostly, piling up like the sounds of amplified rain on a resonant roof. Then another piece, similar but with tunnel reverb, motorcycles and other sounds added. A second version of this with different, longer sounds added and for only one string player with gated reverb. A seventies classic by one of the unfileable composers who changed the rules. With notes and diagrams by the author written in 1999.
Recent work (1998) commissioned for Radio in Germany, this hypnotic 63 minute work features 5 voices, which speak, in a very musical way, over a continuous, slightly shifting, pulse and dramatise a strange and indefinite story involving fraud, the CIA, banks, intrigue and mysterious death. Hard to describe because it's really unlike anything else.
27 tracks that combine binaural field recordings of urban and rural environments, and traditional musics, from Cuba, Bali, The Philippines, Istanbul, Hawaii, Holland, New York, California and Montreal, with 4 channel, layered, polyrhythmic electronic and instrumental improvisations. It's a very complex set-up, and to make matters more complex still, this recording is made from original materials and processed installation materials. The result is interesting - especially the urban sections - and startlingly binaural: there's real space here. A fascinating project (explained fully in the notes).
Composed between 1969 and1971, when Bryars was working with ideas from Cage, Fluxus, free improvisation and experimentalism. There are 4 compositions here: Pre-Mediaeval Metrics for guitar and saxophone, a graphic score, Made in Hong Kong, for mechanical toys, 1, 2, 1-2-3-4, for ensemble: the musicians all listen to the same cassette (a new technology then), and ignore one another, improvising along with what they hear (Beatles songs). The cassettes slowly get out of synch, The Squirrel and The Ricketty Racketty Bridge, written for Derek Bailey. The performer has to play two guitars simultaneously, placed flat on their backs, hammering on and off. These are all new recordings with sleeve notes by Bryars.
A monster of a work, and massive, this originated in a harpsichord commission Cage was reluctant to undertake but eventually completed in the course of three years work with (early computer programmer) Lejaren Hiller. It turned into - for its 1969 premiere - a four-hour multimedia overload for seven harpsichord soloists, electronic keyboard and 52 pre-prepared tapes (with material in 52 different computer generated microtonal divisions of the octave). A lot of existing music was used, especially Mozart - using his dice method - but also Beethoven, Chopin, Schoenberg, Busoni, Gottschalk and others. The result is a massive cacophony of wide spectrum pitches and melody fragments, like nothing before or since. This version was made by Joel Chadabe, the harpsichords played by Robert Conant. It lasts 65 minutes and there are two short demos of the materials used as extra tracks. The packaging is stunning. Flourescent colours and great design based on the small edition screened posters overseen by Cage for the first concert. The full and informative text is printed on 16 full colour cards which, when laid out form a wildly lurid poster themselves. It all comes in a psychedelic slipcase. Altogether a great work.
A fine and important collection of so-called maverick works by women in the 20th and early 21st centuries. Very varied, always challenging. The first two pieces - by Mildred Couper (written in 1930, before any of the other contributors were even born) and Annie Gosfield (b.1960) - are exemplary: Couper's for two pianos tuned a quarter-tone apart and Gosfield's for brain-twisting percussion and bass-clarinet, employing complex simultaneous metres. Pauline Oliveros does what she does; Eleanor Hovda (born 1940) manages, more or less, to make an electronic work with acoustic resources, Beth Custer, using sound sculptures and invented instruments, offers an eccentric song and Zeitgeist ensemble realises a Yoko Ono/Fluxus score. In addition, there is an improvisation using the legendary Arthur Ferris' forgotten instruments. Built mostly in the 1920s these were extended string families: many necked viols, harps, &c. I'm not at all sure how this track fits here (Ferris was male and all the players bar one are male too, but I'm not complaining. It's good to hear the instruments). There are three extra pieces accessible only from a computer, another 1/4 tone piano duet by Mildred Couper, another Ferris instrument improvisation, and Johanna M Beyer's 1932 Suite for Bb Clarinet. 26 minutes in all. If only for the chance to hear Mildred Couper, Ferris' instruments and Annie Gosfield, this is a hit.
A student of Berio and Boulanger; a former director of the Centre for computer music, and the inventor of musical hyperrealism, Creshevsky unusually works only with found sounds, seldom processing or treating them - his pieces are less like tape music as we know it than scratch and sample, or sound collages. The sounds (musical - orchestras, instruments - voices and environmental sounds) essentially come as they are and are then chopped up, layered, juxtaposed and mixed into complex, laminates - some satisfyingly hectic (Drummer), some political (Strategic Defence Initiative), some funny/absurd (Great Performances) and some eerily uneasy (In Other Words - spoken by John Cage). Creshevsky avoids all genre classifications, working as close to post-rock as he does to contemporary music. Covering 21 years, these pieces are all very different and all very listenable - entertaining even: eccentric but absolutely coherent. The latest has strong echoes of some of Zappa's later Synclavier pieces. A maverick Creshevky's work is a catalogue of plunderphonic techniques and non-art applications. Very interesting work. Japanese release, limited quantity, notes mostly in Japanese with English islands. Sorry about the price.
From the legendary Apollohuis, this is a remarkable collection of experiments with technology, all centred on cylinder and 78rpm recordings, mostly early (including the very earliest) sound recordings read by laser technology and manipulated in numerous ways to bring out some aspect of the meaning, the cultural context or the technology, including stretching, layering, substitution (a fascinating transcription of a 1915 piano recording that presents the original, then as replicated by midi files and replayed on a digital piano and a glass harmonica, then electronically 'corrected' for pitch and performing mistakes, the corrected version re-recorded and played back on a new cylinder). Ancient Linguaphone recordings, Chinese 78s, a clay pot read by laser.. It's a CD of investigative experiments. 3-fold colour digipack with an with an excellent, thorough and stimulating 24pp booklet and useful photographs. Limited art edition of 1000.
232pp book in French, lavishly illustrated. Born in 1901 Jean Dubuffet studied painting, gave it up to become a wine merchant. Then in 1943 he became a full time artist, working in various media, including what we would now call installations, in a style often referred to as Art Brut ( now associated with the art of children, the mentally ill, or naifs) - a term coined by Dubuffet himself, though not to describe his own work but that of outsiders who had no stake in the artworld, and who eschewed representation, working from their own individuality rather than fashion or cultural conditioning. In 1960 he began, with a tape recorder, at home, to make improvised music, with all manner of instruments (formal or conventional expertise was not an issue) with Danish painter Asger Jorn. The CD that accompanies this book collects a selection of their improvisations - on various instruments - that are abstract, sometimes rhythmical, always focused and, somehow, visual - like Pollocks or Twombleys they pullulate with a diffuse Brownian motion. They also express a kind of serenity - gentle charm - without ever being less than extremely radical, especially considering when they were made. All the pieces here are dated 1961, with one late work from 1978. The book, 16.5 x 24 cm, 232 pages is in French and lavishly illustrated with photographs, facsimile documents, drawings, paintings, sculptures, stage-sets and photographs (18 in colour), as well as articles and interviews covering all the facets of Dubuffest musical involvements and experiments, including his 'animated painting performance' Coucou Bazar (with original music by Ilhan Mimaroglu). Very nicely produced, well laid out (wide spaced text) and thorough, it also has a complete annotation of the tapes, a discography and a short biography and bibliography.
Weight means we have to add postage to this sorry: £3.00 UK, £4.00 Europe, £6.00 World
Reissue of the legendary 1960 vinyl release of a piece originally made for radio. Fasset, a radio presenter and administrator, painstakingly pieced together this composition using only fragments of bird-call recordings, altering the speeds, editing and layering them into a three part composition. Its value is historic, though it is also fascinating to listen to - and to think about: a window on another and alien world: the almost immediate past. With a fat book, mostly in Japanese with a facsimile of the LP back with the liner notes in English, and with some quotes and notes in English scattered throughout the book. Many rare and wonderful pictures. Import. Limited number. Sorry about the price.
A rarity. Kirchin made jazz recordings 50 years ago and then suddenly two experimental LPs in the '60's - more referred to by the few than heard - otherwise only rumours, footnotes circulated. But he was a pioneer, and the marks pioneers make persist, as this recovered recording - thanks to Jonny Trunk, one of those specialists who went looking and found, not only the author, but unreleased work -demonstrates. Subtitled ' A journey through sound' and made between 67 and 71, this mixes, in a coherent but highly abstract way, environmental recordings (insects to trams), instruments (inc. sax - evan parker -, flugelhorn, marimaba, whistles, rock guitar, bassoon), histrionics, voices and swathes of sound into an evolving drama. Absolutely not dated; it still falls between all styles and boundaries into a fascinating sonic no man's land. Historic and a milestone.
The first CD presents a re-mastered version of the original Folkways release Travelon Gamelon - music for amplified bicycles. The street and concert hall versions (1979-82) presented there are augmented here with a previously unissued concert version from New Zealand, recorded in 1986. This collection is interesting as much for the juxtaposition of street (environmental) and concert hall recordings as for its documentation of an idea that may well otherwise have been lost. Though many people used bicycles as musical instruments - playing the spokes, mostly - not least Frank Zappa, no one else to my knowledge took the idea so far. The second CD presents a number of other works from a prolific but low profile career, all of them built around electronically modified performances, and includes a very early proto-plunderphonic piece (1963/4: the source sounds are records by Stan Kenton and Mahler, respectively). There is also a modified soundscape work (1980) that uses live feeds from the street processed in real time through a double tape-machine 8 track loop. Other works use processes or homebuilt contraptions to evolve musical form. The accompanying booklet is substantial, useful and well annotated - and includes a small gallery of pictures (colour and b/w) with descriptions of various other installations and performance structures by Lerman not represented on the CDs. A useful release, because it documents an already forgotten artist and adds to the picture of the inspirations and DIY lo-tech approaches to sound - and the organic approach to structure - that was important, especially in America, in the 1960s.
5 pieces that explore drones, microtones and the beats induced by simultaneous, slightly detuned frequencies - one for bagpipe, one for a pair of kotos, one for flute and tone generator, one for solo triangle and one for flute, saxophone and piano. All but the triangle work are first recordings. The final track is the strongest, the triangle piece the most radical.
The ensemble (4 of them) performs on an aluminium strip suspended from a rubber band (for subtle pitch shifting). As with Stockausen's Mikrophonie 1 this single source is bowed, scraped, beaten, tapped, stroked and so on. The Kanary Grand band comprises some 40 birds of various breeds who, sing along. N sum, varieties of interesting gong like drones with realtime fully interactive birds. A must. 3-way gatefold digipack, 12pp booklet with thoughtful essay. Limited art edition of 1000 copies.
Outsider Art is a familiar concept in the visual arts, Sub Rosa here attempt to compile a collection of pieces that might extend the idea into the sonic realm. They are not explicit about their criteria, but the CD features a wide range of pieces - from several countries - which are mostly naïve, obsessive or autistic, played by people who would be commonly designated, if not crazy, at least highly eccentric. Fascinating, rather than musical, and highly unusual. There are some extraordinary moments here (in particular the first and last tracks). Working outside the recognised discourse of 'music' these pieces, through their resemblance to what is normative, unsettle easy assumptions about what art , or music, is - or does - or is supposed to do. An interesting record and a useful attempt to suggest a positive category of work usually dismissed as aberrant or failed.
There are two films here, one a full-length 1969 16mm recording of Delusion of the Fury, which mostly documents a real-time performance at UCLA (visually it's a cross between Noh and non European dance). There is also occasional outside footage added in as the piece goes on. An important document, but rather dry. Unless you have 5.1 (the soundtrack has been remixed in this home cinema format), or your TV is connected to your hi-fi sound system, it's probably better to listen to the CD. The second film is a documentary about Partch, made in 1972 and revised in 2005 when additional archival material was added. There is much excellent footage of HP, his remarkable instruments, and some performance extracts. Bonus materials include a TV extract from a 1961 performance of Revelation in the Courthouse Park, which is extremely interesting - I wish there were more of this - and a slideshow of Partch's instruments. For the documentary and the extract from Revelation alone, this is invaluable.
Made in France in 1957, this is similar to one of those curious1960s hi-fi lounge records (only stranger), except that this was made years earlier, and went far beyond exotic percussion and acoustic instruments eccentrically deployed. Popp explored all manner of studio techniques (in particular, recording instruments at different speeds, or backwards, and with layered degrees of reverb), creating 'new' instruments. He also incorporated all manner of sound effects, not as afterthoughts but integrated into the compositions themselves. So it belongs in the category of early experimental studio works, though the material is lounge-like; Raymond Scott occasionally comes to mind.
For a few this will be Big News. Pound's original and eccentric music (aided by George Antheil) is much written about but virtually never heard; now these historical recordings have been gathered from rare performances. Mostly text based and pitched somewhere between medieval vocal music (sparsely accompanied by a small chamber group) and Erik Satie's 'Socrate', these works occupied some 15 years (on and off) of Pound's life. Le Testament, written in the early 20's was first performed in 1971 and Cavalcanti, though commissioned by the BBC, was never submitted to them and was thought lost until it was reconstructed by Robert Hughes in the 1980s. Comes with an excellent 80-page booklet, a thorough essay by Pound music expert Margaret Fisher, and previously unpublished photographs.
A fascinating piece that uses (amongst other instruments) cello, autoharp, psaltrery, animal horns, bagpipes, electric guitar, theremin, violin, bassoon, harpsichord, flutes, conches, harp, trombone and voices - all in various microtonal or just intonated tunings - to tell wandering Odysseus's tale. Sort of. The charmingly unpretentious sleeve notes explain. It's not easy to make any comparisons here, though I'd venture to say that it would be best to play it at a reasonable volume through reasonable loudspeakers. Not breathtaking but genuinely original and full of ideas.
Jon's latest and, I think, best studio production- an interactive Badminton Game where the two sides of the court are the left and right hemispheres of Australian composer, improviser, eccentric and keen sportsman Percy Grainger's brain. A whirlwind of playing, samples, speech, grippingly organised and musically a step ahead. Nice work
Not the whole of it, of course, that would take a day or so. But here are the first 40 repeats of Satie's disarming motif. Dating from 1893, this piece, its first complete performance organised by John Cage in 1963, stands as a monument to a deceptively revolutionary musical mind. The score calls for 840 repeats, but to say that is only to repeat words - it can't approach the physical experience of listening; and of course no played repeat is really a repeat. Can you listen to it? Of course, for a while, then like any repeated thing, figure repositions itself as ground, then it gets interesting. Because not mechanical, this is furniture music with personality. It is also a musical landmark and it's good news that someone has at last set it on a record.
144 pp with 56 color plates. 17.5 cm x 24 Paperback.While in Chicago in the mid-1950s, Sun Ra preached on street corners and occasionally created scripts to accompany his lectures-intricate texts that invoke science fiction, Biblical prophecy, etymology, and black nationalism. Until now, the only broadsheet known to exist was one given to John Coltrane in 1956. Now John Corbett and Anthony Elms have assembled a substantial collection of these early writings. Reproduced in facsimile, with Ra's handwritten notes and afterthoughts - with parallel transcription in print. Corbett contextualises and outlines Ras ideas in his introduction. Invaluable and historic documents, not merely about Ra but about the cultural climate in the 'progressive' black community in Chicago in the 50's.
Companion to Pataphysics and Fitzgerald, this is a CD in a 28pp 7" square book, compiled by the founding director of the legendary Ubuweb, who says in his introduction that: 'This compilation is a celebration of Impurity and guilty pleasures, as viewed through the lens of the historic avant garde'. The CD contains disparate extreme and cutup pieces, about 2/5 of which I think are startling, noteworthy or breathtakingly eccentric (and have strange, often outsider-art histories: Artuad, Williams, Language removal services, Nakano, and especially the glorious Dokaka and Landers) and all of which feature text and/or the human voice. The booklet includes writing experiments, poetry and drawings. Well worth the candle. While stocks last.
The legendary LP set now available as a limited edition 4 CD set, with a highly informative 72pp booklet. This is one of those really extraordinary releases that defy all account. The short-wave radio environment is filled with unidentified stations broadcasting spoken numbers, tones and sometimes modulated noise. No one owns up to them, it is illegal in the UK even to listen to them. They are scary, mysterious, blatant, mindless. They are in fact the dark work of secret government agencies, broadcasting in one-time pad code to clandestine offices and operatives - but blatantly, in plain earshot. And in human, all too human voices that convey, in spite of the emptiness of the message, strange emotions, coloured by the static, blips, leakages and musical extracts that entwine with them. They are the repressed writ large. Publicly broadcast but ostensibly meaningless, they are malignant communications that we are instructed not to know about (the official response to one journalist's enquiry was simply that it was illegal to listen. He stopped asking). All the more extraordinary then that a group of people have monitored, logged and recorded these stations around the globe. The cumulative effect is indescribable - though its complexities and beauties are unintended, like the beauty of poisonous exotic plants growing in the dark. The most hardcore conceptual artist would have to bow to this masterful material. The accompanying notes are informative and excellent, and the records impenetrable. This is subversive work, and it's no kind of art. It's also completely fascinating. There's a very limited quantity, and it's unlikely to be repressed in the near future, so it may be now or never.
Part of the continuing Sonic Arts 7" book + CD series. This excellent issue features eclectic and unexpected selections made by comedian Stewart Lee, most of which in one way or another do squeeze into his borrowed (from Fluxus) title. Only a canny civilian could make such unusual choices - so, full marks to SAN for inventive commissioning. The success of the project makes it hard to give a proper impression, but I can say that all these pieces stay close to people, eccentric sometimes, but definitely not trying to slot into the art mafia: Derek Bailey plays but mostly talks, Arthur Smith appears in a musically orchestrated stand-up routine, Tony Conrad's two year old son anticipates sampling and scratching in 1973; there are settings of tourist brochures, slides found in thrift shops and a photograph found in a Roman street; Mark E Smith of the Fall reads the football results and Jon Rose plays a fence on the Golan Heights. Jem Finer, Evan Parker and a number of uncategorisable performers also appear, and the whole CD is book-ended by a couple of short found tapes, picked up in the street. The book is lavishly illustrated with all manner of maps and extracts of maps, nicely laid out. Imaginative and serious. And very contemporary.
3 pieces: Anima Pepsi, recorded in the legendary Pepsi Pavilion at the 1970 Expo, is derived from heavily processed animal and insect sounds, Toneburst (1975), written for Merce Cunninham, uses only electronic instabilities and internal feedback, with no external source sounds, Dialects (1985) is built around insect wings and alpha rhythms, again in a salad of cross-wiring. Like so much of Tudor, there is a fascination with the system and the process, to the extent that what comes out is rather arbitrary. These pieces are chaotic and not unlike, though preceding by decades, some laptop music. The sounds are generally more interesting though, because dirter. For those who like Tudor.
Pieces based on a 'procedural score' for composition with environmental sounds. The title track, made in 1967 is a very early environmental composition and is fascinating, as well as being of historical significance. All the other works are later orchestrations evolved out of different readings or electronic analyses of this one recording, three electronic and one for acoustic instruments, all of them mostly drone-centred. For me, the acoustic piece is far and away the best. In fact this 1980 work and the original 1967 recording, are reason enough to buy this CD.
You want this. Between March 2003 and December 2004 London's Sonic Arts Network ran an extremely eclectic programme for Resonance FM, purportedly adhering to Fitzgerald's Radio manifesto of 1931 (How to make your own radio programme). This CD is compiled from these broadcasts (by Tim Steiner) and includes material from Otomo Yoshihide, Hugh Le Caine, The Mills Brothers, Sol Hoopi, Fluxii Ben Vautier, Philip Corner and Nam Jun Paik, The Chopins (Frederick and Henri - simultaneously), Leon Theremin, The Beau Hunks, Halim el Dahb, Louis and Bebe Baron, a couple of children's choirs (one recorded 1939 in Russia praising uncle Joe), Harry Champion, Glenn Miller and the Rhythm Rats. There are also jingles (means very short snatches of sound), competitions: guess that sound/speaker, cut-ups and a lot else. It's very nicely put together and makes a fascinating listen - as well as containing some useful, historic material. Imaginatively packaged in an EP sleeve with a booklet full of information, relevant and (maybe irrelevant) detail, references and data - enough to keep you entertained for a week, including references to the letter of Fitzgerald's manifesto so you can try to figure the logic, mysterious charts, lists, games, scoring cards. Then there's a poster - of the manifesto itself, with small print annotations and comments, information about the Sonic Arts broadcasts in relation to it, and a list of 'casualties'. I won't explain, you can read it yourself. This is a priceless package and highly recommended. This CD was created by Sonic Arts Network, a national organisation that explores and promotes the art of sound.