Various ‘Sound Art’


Pictures above:
Christian Marclay’s 1989 ‘Footsteps’ exhibition in a Zürich galery ;
Annea Lockwood 2005 ‘Piano Transplant’ ;
Charlemagne Palestine ‘Overtone Study For Voice’, 1970.

SoundArtBanner01 Bill Fontana ‘Harmonic Bridge’ (11:17)
02 Steve Roden ‘Rust’ (3:43)
03 Jean Dubuffet ‘Terre Foisonnante’ (6:38)
04 Destroy All Monsters ‘Jam Smear’ (6:01)
05 Anthony Burr & Charles Curtis ‘Still and Moving Lines of Silence…’ (16:55)
06 Bernhard Gal ’57A’ (7:14)
Total time: 51:46

Gorgeous book published 2007, notable for a collection of invaluable photos from rare performances by little exposed composers/artists, among which I was thrilled to find pictures of Hermann Nitsch, Harry Bertoia, Bernhard Leitner, Maryanne Amacher, Bill and Mary Buchen that were all unknown to me (the pictures, that is). Emphasizing sound by visual artists, the book focuses on music out of art galeries in the guise of sound installations, happenings, sound sculptures, Fluxus performances, etc. The inclusion of no-wave NY bands (like Gray, Menthol Wars, 3 Teens Kill 4) is a dubious choice, though it brings fresh air in the art-saturated galery spaces. The drawback of the book is to limit itself to art galeries, so that artists’ records, self-releases, anti-music, collective experiments, radio art are not even mentionned. Of course Licht has extensive knowledge of what happened in New York art galeries during the last 20 years and he has access to additional material from the 1970s and 1980s. His enthousiasm and curiosity for all kind of sound experiments make for a great trip through sound art history. Chris Cutler reviewed the book for his mail-order catalogue, you can read it here.

The book’s companion CD is obviously meant as an introduction to some of these experiments and I think it works well introducing music by hard to find composers like Bill Fontana, Anthony Burr & Charles Curtis, Bernhard Gal or Jean Dubuffet. The longest track by Anthony Burr & Charles Curtis (an excerpt from their CD ‘Alvin Lucier’ on Antiopic) is made of subtle, soft electronic drones, very pleasant to listen to, actually. A marvelous piece by composers that were new to me. Austrian Bernhard Gal contribute a beautiful track build on urban field recordings with electronic treatments, the resulting music being as close to a lullaby as contemporary music can get. It’s an excerpt from his ‘Relisten’ CD on Intransitive. The Jean Dubuffet is an excerpt from his ‘expériences musicales’ from the 1960s (the rest is on Ubu).


4 Responses to “Various ‘Sound Art’”

  1. 1 howsthatsound April 9, 2008 at 7:36 pm

    marvelous! thanks much.

  2. 2 Stas April 11, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    Great! Any chance of getting hands on the book itself in ebook format?

  3. 3 continuo April 11, 2008 at 5:50 pm

    Chances are… nil, on my behalf at least, I’m afraid. Besides, this is a 300 pages book.
    Thanks to both for commenting, anyway.

  4. 4 Jochen May 21, 2008 at 4:46 pm

    Dear Continuo,

    my regards for your archival work! I’ve got some 80ies cassettes as well waiting to be digitized (DDAA “En Concert”, Architects Office etc.) and I see your efforts as a deep respect to those obscure artists.

    I’m not happy with this download here because it’s quite an actual release, easily available for purchase. I was glad to get informed by your post, but I preferred to order the book (at 32 Euros in Germany) instead of downloading the CD.
    I received it just today, but from what I can see, it seems to be worth every Euro spent – look at the amount of pictures alone.

    A small correction to your notes above: Anthony Burr & Charles Curtis are not composers, at least not on this record, but instrumentalists interpreting the music of Alvin Lucier, who is a really outstanding composer of conceptual (electronic) pieces, most of them published by Lovely Music.

    And a small note for all who love cassette culture: Robin James did a wonderful book back in 1991, published by Autonomedia, called “Cassette Mythos”. The book is long out of print, but can be accessed freely at
    Unfortunately, this is mere text, so if anybody sees a printed copy it’s worth investigating …

    Kind regards & go on with your great work! (I love your comments, too.)

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