THE TOPOGRAPHY OF CHANCE: Curated by Stewart Lee

Code: topogChance
Price: £15.50
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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.