Tellus cassettography

Tellus was created in 1983 at the Rum Runner Bar on Canal Street in New York City. Joseph Nechvatal, a visual artist, Claudia Gould, a curator and Carol Parkinson, a composer and staff member of Harvestworks/Studio PASS met to discuss the idea of a magazine on cassette which would feature interesting and challenging sound works. With the advent of the Walkman and the Boom Box, the editors perceived a need for an alternative to radio programming and the commercially available recordings on the market at that time.’
[from Harvestworks website]

Launched in 1983 as a subscription only bimonthly publication, the Tellus series took full advantage of the popular cassette medium to promote cutting edge music, documenting the New York scene and advanced US composers of the time. Maybe surfing on the ROIR cassettes selling figures, Tellus ‘The Audio Cassette Magazine’ was in activity for 10 years (1983-1993), witnessing the digital revolution taking place in the new media arts. The series included some landmark soundworks now regarded as historical: Alison Knowles ‘Nivea Cream Piece’ (Tellus#24), Christian Marclay’s ‘Groove’, Lee Ranaldo ‘The Bridge’, Louise Lawler’s ‘Birdcalls’, etc. The series included many women composers, which was very needed at this macho time. Curatorial policy has proved very efficient as well – asking specialists to compile a program in their own field insured state of the art results. Today, Tellus is mentionned as an inspiration to the opening of the Sound Art Museum in Rome in 2007. An exhibition was held at Printed Matter, NY, devoted to contemporary American cassette culture (‘Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now’, May 12 to 26, 2007). It seems it’s now time to reappraise Tellus’ major contribution to the perception of independent music as an art form.

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Compiled by Continuo

  • Tellus #1 cassette 1983 (incl. Barbara Ess, Live Skull)
  • Tellus #4 cassette 1983?-4? (incl. Julius Eastman ‘Touch Him When’ (1970) for piano 4 hands)
  • Tellus #5 & 6 cassettes ‘Special Double Audio Visual Issue’ 1984
    (works by Barbara Ess, Kathy High, Bite Like a Kitty, Michael Smith, Rhys Chatham, Louise Lawler, Richard Prince, David Wojnarowicz & others)
  • Tellus #8 cassette ‘USA/Germany’ 1985
    (incl. Christian Marclay ‘Groove’, ‘Pulverized by Gratitude’ by Live Skull, Elliott Sharp, a. o.)
  • Tellus #9 cassette ‘Music with Memory’ 1985
    (incl. Brenda Hutchinson, N. Collins, J. Driscoll, R. Kuivila, P. DeMarinis)
  • Tellus #10 cassette ‘All Guitars!’ 1985
    (curated by Live Skull founding member Tom Paine, incl. Lee Ranaldo, Glenn Branca, The Magnum Band, Blixa Bargeld with Arto Lindsay and Marc Cunningham, Mark C. and Marnie Greenholz from Live Skull)
  • Tellus #11 cassette ‘The Sound of Radio’ 1985
    (curated by Karen Frillmann & Karen Pearlman and incl. Jay Allison, Adam Cornford & Daniel Crafts, Susan Stone, The New York IPS, M’lou Zahner Ollswang, Ginna Allison, Marjorie van Halteren, Lou Giansante, Karen McPherson, Barrett Golding, Rick Harris, Janice Bell & Portia Franklin, Melanie Berzon, Edward Haber, Steve Jones, Helen Thorington, Ginger Miles, Karen Frillmann)
  • Tellus #12 cassette ‘Dance’ 1985
    (incl. B. Obrecht, A. Leroy, R. McQuire, C. Parkinson)
  • Tellus #13 cassette ‘Power Electronics’ 1986
    (incl. Merzbow, If Bwana, Rhys Chatham, Psyclones, Maybe Mental, F/I, Controlled Bleeding, Architects Office, a.o.)
  • Tellus #14 cassette ‘Just Intonation’ 1986
    (curated by the Just Intonation Network and incl. Harry Partch, Lou Harrison, David Hykes, Ben Johnston, Erling Wold, James Tenney, Larry Polansky, a.o.)
  • Tellus #15 cassette ‘The Improvisors’ 1986
    (live ‘improvisions’ incl. Linsay Cooper, Tom Cora, Christian Marclay, Chris Cochrane, Fred Frith, Bill Frisell, John Zorn)
  • Tellus #16 cassette ‘Tango Tellus’ 1987
    (incl. Brenda Hutchinson, Keith Keeler Walsh)
  • Tellus #17 cassette ‘Video Art Music’ 1987
    (works by Woody Vasulka, Richard Kostelanetz, Shelley Hirsch, Joe D’Agostino, Julie Harrison, Kjell Bjorgeengen & others)
  • Tellus #18 cassette ‘Experimental Theater’ 1988
    (works by Spalding Gray, Ann Magnuson, Mike Kelley, Jerri Allyn & Lydia Lunch, Ann Magnuson with Vulcan Death Grip)
  • Tellus #19 cassette ‘New Music China’
  • Tellus #20 cassette ‘Media Myth’ (incl. Pierre Perret, Randy Greif, If Bwana, Crawling With Tarts, Violence and the Sacred, Nicolas Collins, Minoy)
  • Tellus #21 cassette ‘Audio By Visual Artists’
    (works by Joseph Beuys, Joan Jonas, Ian Murray, Susan Hiller, Christian Boltanski, Antonio Russolo & others)
  • Tellus #22 cassette ‘False Phonemes’ 1988
    (incl. Remko Scha, Larry Wendt, Alice Shields, Paul DeMarinis, Paul Lansky, John Cage)
  • Tellus #23 cassette ‘The Voice of Paul Bowles’ 1989
  • Tellus #24 cassette ‘FluxTellus’ 1990
    (curated by Barbara Moore, incl. a 16 page acordian fold-out booklet with Moore’s essay “The Sound Of Music”. Tape incl. early sound work by George Brecht, Philip Corner, Dick Higgins, Joe Jones, Alison Knowles, Takehisa Kosugi, George Maciunas, Jackson Maclow, Larry Miller, Tomas Schmit, Robert Watts and Emmett Williams. The cassette case includes a soundwork by Takako Saito)
  • Tellus #25 CD ‘Siteless Sounds’ 1991
    (incl. David Wojnarowicz and Ben Neill, Shelley Hirsch, David Moss, Constance Dulong, Brenda Hutchinson, Gregory Whitehead)
  • Tellus Tools 2xLP (TE-LP01), 1992
    (incl. selections from previous issues: Isaac Jackson, Alan Tomlinson, Joe Jones, Christian Marclay, Ken Montgomery, Catherine Jauniaux, Ikue Mori, David Liton, Gregory Whitehead, The League Of Automatic Music Composers, Maurice Lemaire, Jerry Lindahl, Tim Schellenbaum & Jack Goldstein)
  • Tellus #26 CD ‘Jewel Box’ 1992
    (incl. Laetitia Sonami, Mary Ellen Childs, Anne Le Baron)
  • Tellus #27 CD ‘Mini-mall’ 1993 (incl. Brenda Hutchinson, Jin Hi Kim, Pauline Oliveiros)

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4 Responses to “Tellus cassettography”

  1. 1 j.henry December 9, 2007 at 2:25 pm

    — transmission cont, 12.09 —

    to begin: these tellus uploads! marvelous absolutely essential fantastic, i’ll be doing a write up on the j.h c site soon — maybe we can get them up at ubu too!? as you’ve linked above, there are some there already, but these are astounding documents, maybe you’d like to swing a write-up, i’ll check with kenny, surely he’ll want to host if yr interested (they ARE, afterall, yr rips, happily here on continuo’s weblog).

    we should try n gather the full digital set — something that ought to exist.

    ALSO: RE: An exhibition was held at Printed Matter, NY, devoted to contemporary American cassette culture (’Leaderless: Underground Cassette Culture Now’, May 12 to 26, 2007).

    was this good homework or happy happenstance!? on one of my ealier comments here, i’d mentioned the sound art noise poetry of my pal james hoff operating under his airport war moniker — this was his show (he curates at printed matter, the center of the bookart / artist’s book world). the event as great, james dj’d a lot of the stuff listed in yr CASSETTOGRAPHY (bravo;) here, included was a superb performance by cassette mangler electro tape manipulator lucas crane (vs. nonhorse) — someone whom if yr not aware of, you’d surely be very interested in — if you don’t have, i’ll see if i can get some of his recordings — one of the more interesting underground sound artists in new york right now, methinks.

    anyway, james hoff organized the thing (i kno him thru work we did together republishing vito acconci’s 60s conceptual writing zine called 0 to 9, thru ugly duckling presse) there was all sorts of tellus / cassette detritus under panels, i’m sure james has the full set maybe i cld cajole him into digitizing too!

    anyhow, anecdotes & propositions aside, this is great work & i’ll be enchanted to drop more lines as i’ve time nuanced listening to these aural necessities only now unzipping themselves into my speakerbox.


    j.h c

  2. 2 continuo December 9, 2007 at 6:50 pm

    Glad to see you back on track, JH. It seems a wonderful idea to upload the Tellus series on UbuWeb. Plus, it will be the 25th anniversary next year, so this all makes sense to me. I’m not sure I understand what you mean by ‘swing a write-up’, though I’d be eager to help in the process with whatever you see fit. I could extrapolate my introduction and amplify the Cassettography, even if I’m not qualified to do so: your friends in NY would be more apt. Did you notice Ellen Zweig – curator of ‘False Phonemes’ – wrote a comment on Continuo the other day?
    She said she’d get in touch with me after december 12th. It would be great to include her in the UbuWeb Tellus project, I think. Anyway, a Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine dedicated page on Ubu would definitely be a treasure.
    . . . . . . . . . .
    One last note: don’t you feel the All Chemix Radio series deserve an UbuWeb page as well?

  3. 3 Marco Pandin March 14, 2008 at 6:00 pm

    Ciao, I still own some Tellus cassettes. To my surprize, #7 to #12 seem to have followed me in these years, moving from a place to another. I remember I also got #1 to #6 but I realize now they are not in the shelf, most probably they are unreturned stuff. For your cassettography: Tellus #7 is “The Word I” (1985) incl. Linda Fisher, Michael peppe, Wiska Radklewicz, John Miller, Terry Wilson, Lynne Tillman, Victor Poison-Tate, Jean-Paul Curtay, Chaire Picher, Patrick McGrath, Molly Elder, Mike Gira, Gregory Whitehead, Nicolas Nowack, Cid Collins Walker, Richard Kostelanetz, Paul Bob Town, Nameless Stone Productions.

  4. 4 continuo March 14, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    This cassettography has been updated, Marco, see:
    Thanks for the info, anyway. Very much appreciated.
    If you feel like contributing to Continuo with some of the treasures of your shelves, feel free to mail me at:
    teepeesfrp [at] yahoo [dot] fr
    Take care.

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