Tellus #09 ‘Music With Memory’

01 Nicolas Collins ‘Devil’s Music’ (13:32)
02 John Driscoll ‘Stall (excerpt)’ (16:00)
03 Brenda Hutchinson ‘Interlude from Voices Of Reason’ (8:14)
04 Ron Kuivila ‘Parodicals’ (6:58)
05 Ron Kuivila ‘Cannon Y for CN’ (3:46)
06 Paul DeMarinis ‘Eenie Meenie Chillie Beenie’ (4:18)
07 Paul DeMarinis ‘Yellow Yankee’ (6:03)

Total time: 58:47
Released 1985. Curated by John Driscoll

Memory’s definition is stretched to its limits on Tellus #9, one of the most consistent in the Tellus series. ‘Music With Memory’ is a collection of works based on: personal memories, memories from childhood, works requesting the listener’s own memory and… computer RAM (for Random Access Memory), most participants using computer to create their sound works. But what’s left from memory when music is being reduced to mere bits and raw data, like in Nicolas Collins‘s Devil’s Music, an album of plunder-sonics released 1985 on Trace Elements. On side 2 (of which an excerpt is given here), the raw material comes from live AM/FM transmissions, processed on the spot on computer-triggered, sound effect/processing devices. Using mainly muzzak and classical music as source material – though with a remnant rock feeling in the process –, the result is more physical plunderphonics than John Oswald’s. Somehow, the music instantly erases any reminiscences arising from familiar tunes. Memory of what, then? Music against memory, you would think.

Working on many projects involving interactive media, engineer Phil Edelstein was, among other things, instrumental in the realization of the 1973 version of David Tudor’s Rainforest IV, along Bill Viola and John Driscoll. On John Driscoll‘s Stall, Edelstein designed the computer program controling the rotating movements of a loudspeaker playing electronic music by Driscoll. ‘Stall’ is a piece for spatialized electronic sound waves, whirling around the listener’s ears (when heard on headphones, as requested by composer), and interacting with the architecture’s acoustics. Heard on loudspeakers, the music still displays its sovereign tonalities of electronic washes against reverberant acoustics. Compared to ‘Devil’s Music’ it might sound laid-back, but it’s an impressive sound work.

Composer Brenda Hutchinson have been engineer and instructor at Studio Pass, NY, the facility where many Tellus tracks were recorded. She’s famous for her long tube instrument and Bells Project, but many of her sound works include language, storytelling and personal memories, such as the present ‘Voices of Reason’, a montage of interviews with sound effects. This work was also included in ‘Seldom Still’, a cassette compiling works from 1982-1989, using voice sounds only, be it by friends, strangers or Hutchinson’s own. Tracks included: EEEYAH, Voices of Reason, Attendant’s Theme – from Fly Away, AlStorytime and Apple Etudes. (ref HB-C-1, NY 1989).

Ron Kuivila: A track like‘Canon Y for C.N.’ is clearly alluding to Nancarrow. It’s actually an electronic equivalent of one of his Player Piano studies, appropriately ending in a typical deluge of notes. ‘Parodicals’ is a revival of 1960s Moog experiments, as rendered by an Apple computer. It gets pretty disjointed and far out, in a Morton Subotnik way.

Paul DeMarinis‘Eenie Meenie Chillie Beenie’ is one of the cuttest things to appear on the Tellus series. It is based on the famous children’s counting rhyme ‘Eeny, meeny, miny, moe’, transmogrified through speech synthesis, and an electronic catchy melody to which you can’t help tapping along. Music reverting to child age via counting rhymes memories, as if the basics of digital 0s and 1s were nothing more than a simple game. As if you had to revert to child age to get into digits. An interesting idea.

. . . . . . . . . .

Brenda Hutchinson, Nicolas Collins,
Paul DeMarinis, Ron Kuivila


  • Tellus editor Harvestworks’ MySpace and photo set.
  • Wikipedia entry for ‘Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine’,
    thanks to Joseph Nechvatal and Continuo.

6 Responses to “Tellus #09 ‘Music With Memory’”

  1. 1 Alexéi Luthor June 6, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Thank you again for all your TELLUS posts!!!

  2. 2 vaubu June 7, 2008 at 3:50 am

    Thank you Continuo! This looks great. Do you happen to have Brenda Hutchinson’s “Seldom Still”? I am curious to hear that.

  3. 3 continuo June 7, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Thanks, Alexéi and Vaubu for your comments. I thought people would start getting pretty bored by Tellus material right now.
    Vaubu, unfortunately, I don’t have this tape, just a picture of it. It looks very tempting, admittedly. I might investigate further, though.

  4. 4 Str23 June 8, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    All the collection of Tellus are here too but not the covers:

  5. 5 stuiterballen September 2, 2010 at 8:44 am

    You made me so happy with Paul de Marinis Eeenie meenie…

  6. 6 continuo September 2, 2010 at 8:55 am

    You’re welcome.

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