Home » Full Catalogue » CONRAD, TONY/CHATHAM, RHYS/SPIEGEL, LAURIE: Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain (dbl CD)
CONRAD, TONY/CHATHAM, RHYS/SPIEGEL, LAURIE: Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain (dbl CD)
Recorded in New York, this is the self-standing sound component of a multimedia (films and sound) event presented by Tony Conrad at The Kitchen in 1972, performed by Conrad (violin), Chatham (long-string drone instrument and Spiegel (electric bass instrument), later edited by Conrad and Chatham into a shorter piece… and set aside. Until now. It’s a work that rests entirely on the specificities of the instruments used, the minutiae of the performances and a fine ear for tuning. To reduce it to a description - very long notes on the violin, slow glissandi and non-mechanical bass pulse - tells almost nothing, but the experience of listening to it is everything. I am generally allergic to drones but this (like Conrad’s Outside the Dream Syndicate) has indefinable qualities that just seem to work. Modest, deeply fragile and highly concentrated, it is endlessly inventive and mobile, but within such narrow parameters that it evades analysis; it’s a living thing. And not only an historic recording but also a well conceived and brilliantly executed meditation on what the philosopher Charles Sanders Pierce called firstness – what could be called ‘the quality of a feeling’. You may love it (if you have the time; or an appropriate application) or find it bafflingly pointless. But I think it’s an undeniably important piece of work. And a poignant testament to its time.