LERMAN, RICHARD: The Music of Richard Lerman 1964-87 (dbl CD)

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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.

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