01 Meredith Monk/Collin Walcott Prologue (2:29)
02 Osso Exotico & Verres Enharmoniques Untitled #2 (7:12)
03 Christina Kubisch Armonica (excerpt) (12:59)
04 Michael Vorfeld Light Bulb Music (4:12)
05 Miguel Frasconi Issue Solos For Glass (22:25)
06 Akio Suzuki Ha Go Ro Mo (15:24)
07 Meredith Monk/Collin Walcott Unison (4:36)
Total time 63:30
Radical Glass Music is a series of specially curated compilations appearing on this blog from time to time and documenting creative use of glass in music, a field that is of particular interest to special tunings and microtonality lovers, but also to those who simply crave magical sounds and continuous music. While previous issues have featured long duration, mesmerizing sounds extensively, this 3rd installment introduces some percussion sounds as well, and I’d like to include more of them, hopefully, in the future
On ‘Our Lady of Late’, recorded 1973, Meredith Monk confronts her voice with high pitched crystal glass tonalities by Collin Walcott, a renowned NY percussionist who played with Miles Davis, Oregon or Don Cherry. The opener ‘Prologue’ (included here) is a minimal solo for crystal glass hit with a stick. On ‘Unison’, the singer tries to adjust her pitch to that of the crystal’s pure continuous tone, producing delicious harmonics on the way.
French duo Verres Enharmoniques, known today as Orbes, teamed with Portuguese drone masters Osso Exotico to record this wonderful disc in 2006 for Phonomena. Using their usual instruments (guitar, organ, percussion), Osso Exotico engage into a risky dialogue with the ambiguous tuned glasses. On this track, the awkward pumping mechanism of an harmonium is heard producing long-held notes, building up on the massive glass tonalities (6 large glasses).
The ‘Armonica’ CD, published 2005, seems at odds with Christina Kubisch‘s usual sound artwork, the latter usually focusing on amplified electric fields in public spaces. Whether she considered the traditional glass harmonica an appropriate tool to reveal room acoustics or simply wanted to indulge into the magical sounds of the instrument, the disc shows the artist obviously delighting in the bath of tones produced by the rotating bowls. The recording enhances the mechanical noises of the Glass Harmonica, appropriately making it sound like the industrial age invention that it originally is.
Michael Vorfeld is a very original German percussionist and sound installation artist. His Light Bulb Music was developed during live performances using a collection of colored amplified light bulbs and electrical apparatus. The electricity is used to make the glass bulbs resonate, however briefly, and the music arises from the multiple clicks and pops of bulbs and electrical switches. Vorfeld plays on the bulb’s fragility on one side, and the danger emanating from his less than secure electric installation on the other. Soundtrack from this video.
Miguel Frasconi is a founding member of The Glass Orchestra, whose first 1978 LP was previously featured on this blog. He’s still a champion of glass music today, with a distinct, un-dogmatic conception encompassing all kinds of glass sounds. This track is a solo from a live performance with John Morton at Issue Project Room, Brooklyn, 2007, available at Archive.org. Frasconi uses a large array of jars, bowls, rods and even water for what sounds like an exploration of the entire range of glass sounds. What the track lacks in focus it more than compensates with original sounds and exploratory spirit.
The De Koolmees is a self-build glass instrument consisting of 6 hollow glass tubes suspended over a frame. Akio Suzuki apparently rubs the glass with his hands from above and bellow, and even sings into it. As often with Suzuki’s music, the process has an organic feel, the composer only revealing latent sounds (or so it seems) from the materials. The result is pure magic. Track from the ‘Odds and Ends’ 2xCD, MIMI, 2002.
Thanks to harps for the Kubisch suggestion.
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