Microtonal




  BOLLETER, ROSS: Secret Sandhills and Satellites
Code:Emanem4128
Price: £12.50
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A riveting assembly of pieces carefully made from field recordings of wild, ruined and abandoned pianos - mostly found out in the wilds of Australia. Seriously microtonal, nicely paced, and carefully focused on every individual sound, this is a CD that asks for concentration, and over-all rewards it. An early requiem for the cultural hopes of the18th, 19th and early 20th centuries; new life snatched from the jaws of desuetude. May I suggest you play this quite loud; it will benefit: there is a lot of fine detail here that needs some power behind it. Occasional wildlife comes with the locations in which the source materials were recorded.
 
 



  CAGE, JOHN / LEJAREN HILLER: HPSCHD
Code:EMFCD038
Price: £13.00
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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.
 
 



  CARRILLO, PARTCH, IVES, SCELSI, XENAKIS, HARRISSON: Chamber
Code:p-200203
Price: £12.50
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From the American Festival of Microtonal Music, this is a great collection, including, so far as I know, the only piece by the legendary Julian Carrillo on CD (in 16th tones), 2 unusual pieces from Partch (settings from Finnegan's Wake), Ives' String Quartet No.2 and Lou Harrisson's 'At the tomb of Charles Ives' (in just intonation). Also included are Xenakis' Anaktoria (in quartertones, third tones and a lot of glissandi) and Scelsi's Ko-Lho. A great collection, a great undertaking and a perfect opportunity to sample some of the many alternative tuning systems probed in the first half of the C20.
 
 



  CONRAD, TONY with FAUST: Outside the Dream Syndicate 30th Anniversary Edition
Code:conradFaust30th
Price: £22.00
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The classic.. A vital Minimal electric violin drone with microtonalities by La Monte Young affiliate Conrad, and scary machine beats from the Faust rhythm section (Jean-Herve Peron and Werner Diermaier) and Faust guitarist Rudolph Sosna (who plays some synthesiser here) This was undoubtedly one of the more remarkable projects to come out of Faust's famous Wumme schoolhouse (Slapp Happy's Sort Of was another). And it still holds fast as a definitive - and primal - musical statement. Added to the original (remastered) LP are other out-takes from the original sessions and another version of the ur-piece without an extra violin overdubbed later. A landmark. Nice packaging, though the text is more promotional than useful. If you already have the single CD, not a lot is added, but the quality is better. Sorry it's so expensive. But still worth it
 
 



  CONRAD, TONY: Fantastic Glissando
Code:SWCLP82
Price: £15.00
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An important minimalist document from 1989 by Conrad, film-maker, member of La Monte Young's Dream Music, collaborator with Faust and violinist. Here however he manipulates sine-wave generators and multiple glissandi. High intensity.THIS IS A VINYL RELEASE
 
 



  GANN, KYLE: Nude Rolling down an Escalator
Code:80633
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Gann, composer and author of 'The Music of Conlon Nancarrow' here uses MIDI and the Disklavier to work through his own original and highly imaginative approach to the mechanical piano, in these pieces tackling not only rhythmic and polyphonic possibilities - like Nancarrow himself - but also mictrotonality and alternative tunings. Though all the pieces are fiendishly and impossibly complex, they are also easy to listen to - by turn, breathtaking, witty and intelligent. They mostly draw on Jazz, Blues, Folk and popular music forms, though in vastly alien configurations, and each works around a strong central idea. For instance: 'Petty Larceny' is all made from fragments of Beethoven piano sonatas, 'Bud Ran Back Out' references Bud Powell, but in multiple times and at impossible speeds over a walking Bass, 'Despotic Waltz' puts regular Nancarrow in the Left hand and rubato Chopin in the right, 'Folk Dance for Henry Cowell' uses Cowelesque subdivisions of beats in a simple Folk setting while 'Unquiet Night' uses seven bebop chords and seven tempo layers to stake out a mysterious soundscape. The title track is Gann's Ave and Vale to the futurists.10 very different pieces explore 10 very different ideas. Excellent. Sleeve notes. A jewel.
 
 



  IVES, CHARLES: Universe Symphony
Code:SS007
Price: £12.50
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This realisation of Ives' unfinished, stunningly original, and prescient score was assembled and conducted by Johnny Reinhard (composer, performer, academic and founder of the Festival of Microtonal Music). It is a nothing less than a revelation. Beautifully recorded, this is a massive, timeless work that seems to hang free in musical space, slowly existing, like a ghostly nebula. Unprecedented both in its use of multiple tempi and epic dynamically-static structure, this is a work you really have to hear. Just the first 19 minutes of enormous, inevitable, impenetrable percussion, embodying an extremely slow, felt rather than heard, pulse with instruments moving in their own orbits, seemingly at their own, mysteriously changing tempi, is a step into another world and into another way of listening.
 
 



  LEE, RAY: Siren (CD +DVD)
Code:LeeSiren
Price: £16.50
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Mass arrays of spinning sound-sculptures, insect-like articulated constructions, metal detectors, mechanical debris, choirs of sirens that produce rich, complex ululations, mostly in vast industrial spaces. Microtonal, polyrhythmic, visually beautiful, sonically mysterious, these recordings have a life of their own. The DVD also shows some of Lee's other soundworks. Very nice work.
 
 



  LUCIER, ALVIN: Ever Present
Code:MODE178
Price: £12.05
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* 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.
 
 



  NICHOLAS, ALWYN: Electronic Dance Music
Code:CRICD651
Price: £12.50
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Circa 1966-89, fascinating rhythmic contemporary electronic music that sounds more like a slightly straighter version of The Residents than anything else. Highly engaging skate across a lot of musical borders and a document of another maverick composer. One of a kind. LIMITED SUPPLY
 
 



  PARTCH, HARRY: Delusion of the Fury (Enclosure 7)
Code:Innova407
Price: £14.50
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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.
 
 



  PARTCH, HARRY: Enclosure 1 (video)
Code:INNOVA400
Price: £17.00
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Rotate the Body in All Its Planes (Music for Acrobats by HP), Music Studio - Harry Partch (Partch introduces and demonstrates his instruments and performs, alone, using overdubs (!) WINDSONG. This is worth the whole video, U.S. Highball - A performance/film of the celebrated Hobo piece; excellent - MTV Phooie !, DAPHNE OF THE DUNES (Windsong in full as soundtrack to a curious narrative-artmovie). A MUST for any HP fan. Invaluable archive material. From the US original converted by the British Harry Partch Society to UK PAL standard.
 
 



  PARTCH, HARRY: Enclosure 4 (video) 'Delusion of Fury'
Code:INNOVA404
Price: £17.00
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MADELAINE TOURTELOT's film of all playing, all singing, all dancing 1969 UCLA stage production (75mins.), with extra interpolated film material. It makes all the difference to see how HP imagined his music to look as well as sound. A crucial document + the San Diego KEBS-TV documentary featuring 'Daphne of the Dunes', two duets from 'On the 7th day...' (Harry P. and Danlee Mitchell) and an interview with HP (28 minutes). PAL version.l
 
 



  PIERCE, JOSHUA: Hovhaness, Ives, Cage, Moser, Konicek, Bonotto, Wyschnegradsky
Code:pierceHovaness
Price: £12.50
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A great record. Those of you who spotted Wyschnegradsky's name will already know why. This is another numinous release from the microtonal festival and every track on it is a gem. Mostly for pianos tuned in quartertones, though some have other instruments in more exotic tunings alongside, these pieces are a priceless entry into a glorious realm of listening. And as a bonus, the Wyschnegradsky (for Bassoon and piano) is played as if it were rock music; the Konicek too is severely leaned into. Prodigious. And inspiring. Must have.
 
 



  REINHARD, JOHNNY and The American Festival of Microtonal Music Orchestra: Odysseus
Code:reinhardFest
Price: £11.00
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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.
 
 



  REINHARD. RILEY. CORNER. CAGE: Ear Gardens
Code:P-200209
Price: £12.50
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From the festival of microtonal music, four pieces: a commissioned version of Terry Riley's 'In C' in just intonation for just-fretted guitars, harpsichord, viola, pulse guitar and kanon (a kind of monochord I think; sleeve notes are unclear); two microtonal melodies for theremin and trombone, very successful, by Fluxartist Philip Corner; Cage's Ten for ten musicians, and Johnny Reinhard's mighty 'Cosmic Rays' for string quartet shifting through various harmonic systems and employing serial techniques, aleatorics and comic books as organising structures.
 
 



  ROTHKAMM: Astronaut of Inner Space
Code:FB02
Price: £12.50
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Highly microtonal (he uses a 768 division to the octave system), unusually delicate and structured, these linked pieces come as close as you can get to the aesthetic of early computer music, while still being highly contemporary. This is a work also very much concerned with spatialisation (headphones or a double stereo layout - are recommended - but it works fine in stereo). Careful, intricate and sensitive work. A rare thing today.
 
 




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