Philip Perkins ‘Virgo Ramayana’
1992, Fun Music cassette FUN18
01. Virgo Ramayana (23:19)
02. Radio Music – John Cage (6:15)
03. Remotitude (6:20)
04. Say Again (45:22)
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Philip Perkins (born 1951) has been involved in experimental music since the mid-1960’s, mostly with West Coast musicians from California. He now works as a noted sound effects designer for documentary films. As a musician or sound engineer, he has collaborated with “Blue” Gene Tyranny, The Residents (making videos and recording Stars and Hank for ever & The Tune Of Two Cities), Carl Stone, amongst others. He ran his own label Fun Music from 1979 to 1996 to release his own music and that of The Hub or Scott Fraser.
The title track ‘Virgo Ramayana’ – the Rāmāyaṇa, रामायण being an ancient Sanskrit epic– is a lively Indonesian soundscape made from on site field recordings, including street ambiance sounds, muslim prayers, gamelan music, radio shows, local pop music, etc. It’s a masterpiece of field recording montage, with an unusual feeling of actually being there. A sample from this track – appearing on ReR quarterly vol. 4, no. 2 CD, can be heard here. The John Cage realization, 1956 ‘Radio Music’ scored for 1 to 8 radios, is an american radiophonic soundscape. I believe Perkins limited his sound material to 1950s radio shows archive recordings and records being aired at the time, so this is a portrait of that era as well. ‘Remotitude’ is an excerpt from a series of live radio performance works, involving live musicians interacting with Perkins own custom electronics processing. ‘Say Again’, on side B, is a composition involving live instruments and electronics along singer Bonnie Barnett story telling and singing. Weird stories and some nice live playing interaction with electronics and effects. Excellent percussion work by Scott Fraser, including cymbals, gamelan like metalophones and bell chimes sounds. Additionally, read Blue Gene Tyranny review of this cassette here.