Tellus updates

Preluding to additional Tellus posts on Continuo in the following days, I’m including here the new updated introduction (written for Ubuweb last december 2007 but as yet unreleased) and an up-to-date cassettography – now including the latter’s recent posts, further internet research and personal purchases. The following is still the most comprehensive cassettography available worldwide and an exclusive Continuo feature. Additionally, the Harvestworks website has been revamped and updated early 2008 and the Artists-In-Residence program is still active. Most participants to past Tellus releases where benefactors of this program, so why not expect a relaunch of the Tellus audio releases series in 2008?


TellusPurpleLaunched in 1983 as a subscription only bimonthly publication, the Tellus cassette 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 – the first 2 issues being devoted to NY artists from the downtown scene. The series was financially supported along the years by funding from the New York State Council of the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Obviously, the Tellus publishers (visual artist and composer Joseph Nechvatal, curator Claudia Gould and composer Carol Parkinson, director of Harvestworks from 1987 on) never considered running an underground publication, rather envisaging the cassette medium as an art form in itself. A quite unique point of view at a time (the 1980s) when many self released cassettes blossomed through mail order or trade between artists, and when the cassette milieu was promoting DIY technique, even anti-art as a motto. The Audio Cassette Magazine never indulged into amateurism, their releases always focused, well researched and aptly curated. From the start, the founding members deliberately aimed at raising the profile of their cassette releases, sending issues to US public libraries and museums, for instance. The Tellus team launched the Harvestworks Artist-In- Residence Program along the cassette series, to promote independent artists’ projects and provide them with a professional recording facility, named Studio PASS.

Tellus ‘The Audio Cassette Magazine’ was in activity for 10 years (1983-1993), witnessing the digital revolution taking place in the new media arts. Some points of comparison can be established with the Toronto based MusicWorks Journal and cassette, launched 1978, or with the ROIR cassette only releases of various musical styles, from Flipper to Lee Perry to Einsturzende Neubauten, launched 1981. Tellus published audio art, new music, poetry and drama, exploring musical spheres as diverse as avant-garde composition, post industrial music, NY no wave, Fluxus music, heirs of Harry Partch, avant rock, sound poetry, radio plays, tango, electroacoustic music, etc.

The series included some landmark sound works now regarded as historical: Louise Lawler’s ‘Birdcalls’ (Tellus #5-6), Christian Marclay 1982’s ‘Groove’ (Tellus#8), Lee Ranaldo ‘The Bridge’ (Tellus#10), Alison Knowles ‘Nivea Cream Piece’ (Tellus#24), etc. Tellus always championed women and gay composers, which was very needed in the macho experimental music sphere of the times. 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 mentioned 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.

. . . . . . . . . . .


Tellus #1 cassette 1983 (curated by Claudia Gould, Joseph Nechvatal, Carol Parkinson. With Jody Harris, Jerry Lindahl, Sonic Youth, Brenda Hutchinson, Live Skull, Tom Lopez/ZBS Productions, Rat-at-Rat-R, Bradley Eros, Bruce Tovsky, Gretchen Langheld, Mitch Corber, Barbara Ess (with Barbara Barg), Joseph Nechvatal, Verge Piersoi, Tron Von Hollywood with Raina Jane Sherry, David Linton, Rhys Chatham)

Tellus #2 cassette 1984, (curated by Claudia Gould, Joseph Nechvatal, Carol Parkinson. With Kiki Smith, John Fekner, Vernita Nemec, The Scene Is Now, Tony Papa, Cardboard Air Band, Peter Nechvatal, Charlie Morrow, Alex Noyes, Ikkoh Mine, David Rosenbloom, Carol Parkinson, David Garland, John Fekner, Mitch Corber, Jamie Daglish and George Elliot, Dr. Telecom, Charlie Noyes, Holly Huges+Sally A. White+Maureen Angelos+Jill Kirschen+Janee Pipik, Ron Kuivala)

Tellus #3 cassette 1984 (curated by Claudia Gould, Joseph Nechvatal, Carol Parkinson. With Kirby Malone, Jim Farmer, Christopher Knowles, Disband, Chain Gang, Gregory Whltehead, Daniel Shklalr, Bruce Tovaky, Wolfgang Staehle and Steve Pollack, Isaac Jackson, Cardboard Air Band, John Shirley and Sync 66, Tim Schellenbeum, The Tlnklers, Boom, Brian Reinbolt, Wharton Tiers)

Tellus #4 cassette 1984 (curated by Claudia Gould, Joseph Nechvatal, Carol Parkinson. With Julius Eastman, David Weinstein, Michael Byron, Paul Dresher, Carol Parkinson, Ellen Fullman, John Morton)

Tellus #5 & 6 cassettes ‘Special Double Audio Visual Issue’ 1984. (curated by Claudia Gould, Joseph Nechvatal, Carol Parkinson. With Louise Lawler, Paul McMahon and Nancy Chun, Julie Harrison, Richard Prince, Julie Wachtel, Perry Hoberman, Ericka Beckman, David Wojnarowicz and Doug Bressler, Paul McMahon and Nancy Chun, Raimund Kummer, Barbara Barg and Barbara Ess, Kathryn High, Bite Like A Kitty, Anne Turyn, Michael Smith, Rhys Chatham)

Tellus #7 cassette ‘The Word I’ 1984 (with Linda Fisher, Michael Peppe, Wiska Radiewicz, John Miller, Terry Wilson, Lynne Tillman, Victor Poison-Tete, Jean-Paul Curtay, Claire Picher, Patrick McGrath, Molly Elder, Michael Gira, Gregory Whitehead, Nicolas Nowack, Cid Collins Walker, Richard Kostelanetz, Paul Bob Town, Nameless Stone Productions).

Tellus #8 cassette ‘USA/Germany’ 1985 (with Konk, Joshua Fried, Details At Eleven, Cargo Cult, Destructo, His Masters Voice, Rat At Rat R, Yellow Grave, Live Skull, Elliott Sharp, Fast Forward, Christian Marclay, Club of Rome (aka Asmus Tietchens), Saurekeller, Galerie Global, Nicolas Nowack)

Tellus #9 cassette ‘Music with Memory’ 1985 (curated by John Driscoll. With Nicolas Collins, John Driscoll, Brenda Hutchinson, Ron Kuivila, Paul De Marinis)

Tellus #10 cassette ‘All Guitars!’ 1985 (curated by Live Skull founding member Tom Paine. With Lee Ranaldo, Arto Lindsay and Toni Nogueira, Janice Sloane, Butthole Surfers, New Detroit Inc., Bob Mould, Bond Bergland, Joseph Nechvatal, Elliot Sharp, David Llnton, Jules Baptiste, Tim Schellenbaum, Bump, Rudolph Gray, Hahn Rowe, John Myra, Lydia Lunch and Lucy Hamilton, Sue Manel, Bliss BargeId, Andrew Nahem, Sandra Seymour, Run Nigger Run, Thurston Moore, Mark C. and Marnie Greenholz, Glenn Branca, James Vidos, Angela Babln and Joe Dizney, Frankenjerry)

Tellus #11 cassette ‘The Sound of Radio’ 1985. (curated by Karen Frillmann & Karen Pearlman and with 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’ 1986. (curated by Gretchen Langheld & Bruce Tovsky and with Bill Obrecht, A. Leroy, R. McQuire, Carol Parkinson, Linda Fisher, Lenny Pickett, Anita Feldman+Michael Kowalski, J.A. Deane, Gretchen Langheld, Bruce Tovsky, Brooks Williams, Jim Farmer, Hearn Gadbois, Liquid Liquid, Al Diaz, David Linton)

Tellus #13 cassette ‘Power Electronics’ 1986. (curated by Joseph Nechvatal, with Maybe Mental, Merzbow, Amor Fati, If, Bwana, Rhys Chatham, Psyclones, Blackhouse, Joseph Nechvatal, Master/slave Relationship, Maybe Mental, Architects Office, Controlled Bleeding, Mojo, Coup De Grace, Le Syndicat, Mitch Corber, F/i)

Tellus #14 cassette ‘Just Intonation’ 1986. (curated by the Just Intonation Network and with Harry Partch, Ralph David Hill, Carola B. Anderson, David Hykes, Lou Harrison, Jon Catler, David Canright, David B. Doty, John Bischoff,+Jim Norton+Tim Perkis, Ben Johnston, Erling Wold, Susan Norris, James Tenney, Larry Polansky, Alexis Alrich, Jody Diamond)

Tellus #15 cassette ‘The Improvisors’ 1986. (live ‘improvisions’ by Chris Cochrane, Anthony Coleman, Carol Emanuel, Tom Cora, Bill Frisell, Bobby Previte, Lindsay Cooper, Fred Frith, Irene Schweizer, Christian Marclay, Bill Horvitz, David Weinstein, Denman Maroney, Samm Bennett, Jim Staley, Ikue Mori, John Zorn)

Tellus #16 cassette ‘Tango’ 1986. (with Carlos Gardel, David Garland, Chris DeBlasio, Keeler, Brenda Hutchinson & Gerald Lindhal, Alan Tomlinson, Elodie Lauten, Jo Basile & Orchestra, Robert Scheff, Molly Elder, Matthew Nash, Jo Basile & Orchestra, Christopher Berg, Fast Forward, Mader)

Tellus #17 cassette ‘Video Art Music’ 1987. (Curated by Peer Bode with works by Woody Vasulka, Peter Chamberlain ‘5 Minutes Up’, Richard Kostelanetz, Shelley Hirsch, Joe D’Agostino, Julie Harrison, Kjell Bjorgeengen, Sorrel Hays ‘Unnecessary Music from Love in Space’, Eric Ross ‘Cadenza from Concerto for Orchestra (Op. 24)’, Megan Roberts, Jean-Paul Curtay ‘Senses, senses’ & others)

Tellus #18 cassette ‘Experimental Theater’ 1988. (works by Spalding Gray, Ann Magnuson with Vulcan Death Grip, Mike Kelley with Sonic Youth, Jerri Allyn, Ann Magnuson & Lydia Lunch)

Tellus #19 cassette ‘New Music China’ 1988 (contributing editor: R.I.P. Hayman, with: Ji Gong, Wang Li, Zhang Xing, Tiao Ba Tiao Ba, Zui Jiu, Hao Yuchi, Electronic Dirge, Xian Percussion Ensemble, Miao Love Chant, Liu Dehal, Gong Yi, Fred Houn, Chen Yi, Ge Gan Ru, Zhou Long, Wu Wen Guang, Tan Dun, R.I.P. Hayman, Jing Jing Luo)

Tellus #20 cassette ‘Media Myth’ 1988 (curated by Joseph Nechvatal, with Randy Greif, Pierre Perret, The Psychic Workshop, Social Interiors, If, Bwana, Crawling With Tarts, Violence and The Sacred, Art Interface, Minoy, Nicolas Collins, Silent But Deadly, JPM Studios, Joseph Nechvatal, A Place To Pray, Maurice Methot, Michael Chockolak, Dance)

Tellus #21 cassette ‘Audio By Visual Artists’ 1988 (works by Joseph Beuys, Maurice Lemaître, FT Marinetti, Raoul Hausmann, Antonio Russolo, Marcel Duchamp, Kurt Schwitters, Lawrence Weiner, George Brecht, Patrick Ireland, Richard Huelsenbeck, Arrigo Lora-Totino & Fogliati, Jean Dubuffet, Mimmo Rotella, Joan Jonas, Christian Boltanski, Ian Murray, Terry Fox, Jonathan Borofsky, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Richard Prince with Bob Gober, Martin Kippenberger, Jack Goldstein, John Armleder, Terry Allen, Gretchen Bender, Y Pants, Ed Tomney, Susan Hiller, Murray)

Tellus #22 cassette ‘False Phonemes’ 1988. (curated by Ellen Zweig and featuring : Remko Scha, Larry Wendt, Brian Reinbolt, Mark Rudolph, Alice Shields, Paul De Marinis, Paul Lansky, Jon English/Jim Pomeroy, Ron Kuivila, John Cage)

Tellus #23 cassette ‘The Voice of Paul Bowles’ 1989 (audioportrait incl. Bowles early compositions like ‘Music for a Farce’, ‘Interlude and Prelude # 2’, and moroccan field recordings)

Tellus #24 cassette ‘FluxTellus’ 1990. (curated by Barbara Moore, incl. a 16 page accordion 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. (contains ‘political and personal views as expressed through new audiotext works” by David Wojnarowicz and Ben Neill, Shelley Hirsch, David Moss ‘Conjure’, Constance Dulong, Brenda Hutchinson ‘Voices of Reason (Vanishing Act)’, Gregory Whitehead and a collaboration with Jacki Apple, Linda Albertano, Keith Antar Mason and Akailah Nayo Oliver)

Tellus #26 CD ‘Jewel Box’ 1992, (with Anne LeBaron, Laetitia Sonami, Sussan Deihim, Bun Ching Lam, Catherine Jauniaux & Ikue Mori, Sapphire, Mary Ellen Childs, Michelle Kinney)

Tellus #27 CD ‘Mini-mall’ 1993 (incl. Brenda Hutchinson ‘Long Tube Trio’, Jin Hi Kim ‘Electric Changgo Permutations’, Pauline Oliveiros with Fanny Green ‘Time Piece’)

Tellus Tools 2xLP (TE-LP01), 2001. (curated by Taketo Shimada. Incl. selections from previous issues: Isaac Jackson, Alan Tomlinson, Joe Jones, Christian Marclay, Ken Montgomery, Catherine Jauniaux, Ikue Mori, David Linton, Gregory Whitehead, The League Of Automatic Music Composers, Maurice Lemaire, Jerry Lindahl, Tim Schellenbaum & Jack Goldstein)

4 Responses to “Tellus updates”

  1. 1 Carlo McCormick March 21, 2008 at 4:48 am

    Tellus: Time Loops Our Sonic Stigmata

    As one of the primary stages upon which seemingly all of the ongoing cultural spectacle comes to take a turn, it is surprising just how dismal the New York City music scene’s track record has been in terms of mainstream popular culture. Whereas in other forms of production we enjoy a certain preeminence, somehow the music we make and listen to is by and large disregarded by consensus opinion elsewhere. No matter how much it may thrill us, or even the degree of institutional and critical support it may receive, we can usually be sure that whenever we try to export it anywhere our bands and musicians will fall upon deaf and antagonistic ears. We just don’t quite get it. When everyone else wants melody, we churn out noise. When tastes veer towards the ornate, we go for a brutal minimalism, or conversely, when simplicity is the way of the day, we pile up unwieldy multiple layers of sonic overload. When love is message, we release our rage, and yet when people are finally ready to rock, we retreat into self-reflexive abstraction. And of all our commercial sins, the music out of that New York City downtown/underground/vanguard nexus is always just too damn arty, smart, experimental, self-indulgent, process-oriented, atonal, conceptual, stylized, smugly diffident and all the rest. And even if history may prove kind to such a legacy in the end, this is the stigma which every band or single performer from this town must face each time they go on tour or sit down with a record company. It is a stigma that Tellus wears exceptionally well.

    When it came time to gather together some of the music we were hearing in town for Tellus in the mid Eighties, this was an unmistakable fact about which we had no delusions. We were not in the business of making pop stars then, any more so than we are today. Working in nightclubs and performance spaces at the time, I understood that there was no audience per se, just a community of participants. In retrospect, what may have seemed like a curse then, was in reality a blessing. Now, it’s hard to imagine what any of this stuff could possibly sound like to an actual audience. Perhaps the context in which this music was made is much closer to contemporary experience than it might have been in its own time. The thing with New York was that, by the very nature of this urban beast, silence was a rare commodity and linearity a near impossibility. To be at home or in the studio was to have not just the sounds of one’s own thoughts, but a myriad of street noises- cars, sirens, people yelling, garbage trucks, and radios spitting out a ceaseless pastiche of international pop vernaculars. Perhaps the neighbors would be having another fight, the kids selling dope on the corner a new brand name to extol, the television is on, as is the stereo, and you’ve not quite put that book down to pick up the phone. This overlapping, all-subsuming, surfeit sensory saturation is the condition in which much of the music here was made. And what we hear of it today is inevitably either the denial or embrace each artist must determine in their relationship to the din of existence.

    Carlo McCormick

  2. 2 Gregory Whitehead July 29, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    ahoy continuo! fantastic work you are doing here — can I make one little correction? the radio issue of TELLUS, somehow I am missing — but was there, on the cassette. Interesting days in radioland, those.

    FYI, also, as I gradually upload stuff:

    cheers and I will definitely “follow” this deep resource.


  3. 3 continuo July 29, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Hi, Gregory, thanks for dropping by. Sorry if I omitted your name from the Tellus radio issue.
    It’s a great idea to make your early works available again through your website.

  4. 4 Gregory Whitehead July 29, 2012 at 10:30 pm

    No worries! I welcomed that particular TELLUS; good company, and rich polyphony. Everything still seemed possible, during those days. We’ll get there again – in time. Cheers, GW

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