MusicWorks #26, 1984


by Norbert Ruesbaat

a walk through the city,
sunlight edge
and the cymbal crash

follow the burning signs,
the trail of bullets,
the embers dying

discarded shoe
like an open mouth,
a burn on the pavement

a house
containing three children
flashes once
and is gone

a single robbery

somewhere a man
is carving himself
to death
for food

day like an open wound

in the instant of the newsflash,
in the terror of the merchant,
in the gleam of a coin,
the child’s eye

it occurs at gunpoint,
the barrel laid across the heart,

murder, the judgement,
assault with a lethal instrument

the whole city staked out
with eyes like a giant crystal

catching the angles of light
the city borders the skin

. . . . . . . . . .


01 Marjan Mozetich ‘Dance Of The Blind (introduction)’ 0:06
02 John Oswald & Marvin Green ‘Walking’ 4:30
03 Hildegard Westerkamp ‘A Walk Through The City’ 7:59
04 Hildegard Westerkamp ‘Cool Drool (excerpt)’ 2:42
05 Hildegard Westerkamp ‘Power Songs (by Norbert Ruebsaat)’ 0:40
06 Marvin Green ‘April Walk’ 1:29
07 Hildegard Westerkamp ‘When There Is No Sound’ 3:04
08 Marjan Mozetich ‘Dance Of The Blind’ 4:27
09 Patrick Ready & Gordon Monahan ‘Musical Water Jet demonstration’ 4:15
10 Tom Hajdu ‘Music For 16 Clarinets’ 3:40
11 Michael Zagorski ‘Vibrato vs Tremolo’ 7:04
12 Marjan Mozetich ‘Dance Of The Blind (conclusion)’ 1:39
Total time: 41:40
Released Winter 1984.

This amazing cassette was edited and produced by John Oswald for canadian avantgarde music journal MusicWorks, launched 1978, of which Oswald was a founding member and occasional editor. When this issue+tape was released, Tina Pearson and Gordon Monahan were the MusicWorks editors. In the 1970s, Oswald had been a student of R. Murray Schafer and James Tenney before joining Marvin Green in the Toronto Glass Orchestra, founded 1977, an ensemble of glass instruments including Eric Cadesky, Miguel Frasconi, John Kuipers and Paul Hodge as well. John Oswald and Marvin Green founded ‘Pitch’ (1976-1982), an ensemble of ‘sound distributed in perfectly dark environments’. In 1980 Oswald launched Mystery Tapes Laboratory, a cassette label. He released his first ‘Plunderphonics’ in 1987. The Oswald/Green track included on this tape is a montage of field recordings devilishly edited into an aural cityscape, replete with extreme panning effects and baffling sound refinement. Note unbelievable addition of an Inuit choir 3:00 into the mix.

An other major canadian artist on this strictly canadian compilation is Hildegard Westerkamp, a R. Murray Schafer associate and assistant. ‘A Walk Through The City’, premiered 1981, has Vancouver area sounds part of Murray Schafer’s ‘World Soundscape Project’ of environmental recordings, to which Westerkamp was a collaborator. ‘A Walk Through The City’ is a poem by husband Norbert Ruebsaat performed here by the author to good effect, followed by their young daughter’s babbling. Another excerpt from this work appeared on ‘SoundViews’ (check previous post) and has been fully reissued on the ‘Transformation’ CD. ‘Cool Drool’ is a radio documentary on muzak. The excerpt here was recorded in a shopping mall. Says Westerkamp: ‘We are at Eatons… This is the Men’s Clothing Department… I would call it a kind of live soundwalking, that particular section.‘ The beautiful ‘When There Is No Sound’ is a sound poem by Westerkamp along snow walking sounds by Marvin Green and ending with the sound of ice melting/crushing.

Marjan Mozetich, b1948, is a canadian composer of Slovenian origin who studied with Donatoni and Berio. A teacher at Toronto’s Royal Conservatory, he created the still active avantgarde music ensemble ArrayMusic in 1972. ‘The Dance Of The Blind’ is a post-modern composition for accordion and string trio including elements of minimalism and folk music. The accordion cabaret mood almost sounds like Astor Piazolla, while the string section stick to John Adams-like melodic lines. I think the way Oswald distributed samples of this 10mn work in the course of the cassette is very clever, including ‘The Dance Of The Blind’ in the overall mix –- check track #1, a 6” excerpt, as well as the short coda at the end of the tape, track #12.

Patrick Ready & Gordon Monahan
are having a funny conversation about an amazing self-build instrument, the ‘water-jet… transmitting sound through a jet of water’. Monahan was already a notable composer at the time, having just released his prize-winning ‘Piano Mechanics’ in 1984. Tom Hajdu’s ‘Music for 16 clarinets’ is a Feldmanesque clarinet drone piece, with dense layers of static clarinet notes. Michael Zagorski was teaching psychoacoustics at Newfoundland University, and is contributing a lecture on the difference between tremolo and vibrato with many musical examples.

[Link removed 12/09. Complaint received]

3 Responses to “MusicWorks #26, 1984”

  1. 1 p. somniferum January 6, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    I like this. This is true ambient listening and not just latently engaging.

  2. 2 continuo January 6, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I agree with you. I love the way it works as a whole, blending neo-classical instrumental music and advanced sound art. If someone can mix water and fire, it’s your John Oswald. For me, this cassette could be used as a model for mixing purposes.

  3. 3 bravojuju January 7, 2008 at 4:08 pm

    sounds delicious.. thanks

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