First established in 1973 to document artists’ interviews and, according to founder William Furlong, generally propagate the human voice as an ‘organic sculpture’, Audio Arts Magazine only occasionally dealt with music as such, and the present Vol 4 Number 2 was only the second installment to proclaim the word music on its cover during the 1970s, after the 1976 Recent English Experimental Music compilation (with Howard Skempton, Christopher Hobbs, Gavin Bryars, Michael Parsons and Michael Nyman, a.o.). During the 1980s, Audio Arts devoted more cassette issues to sound art and music, including the Accent for a Start LP, Bill Johnson Everybody’s Doing It cassette, or the Dieter Roth and Roger Doyle works.
♫ The program of this issue starts with forefathers of sound art, at least one of the firsts to be recorded. Composed by Luigi’s brother Antonio Russolo, Corale and Serenata, scored for orchestra and several Intonarumori, were published on a 78rpm disc in 1924 by the Italian Grammofono company. These are the only genuine recordings of Futurists performing the Art of Noise as they saw it proper – as all so-called “Luigi Russolo recordings” are fake, made during the 1977 Venice Biennale Intonarumori exhibition. These 2 short tracks are a perfect introduction to what follows.
A member of conceptual-cum-social activists Artists’ Placement Group, contemporary British artist Ian Breakwell (1943−2005) started writing and drawing about the Glaswegian Hengler’s Circus in the early 1970s. The Hengler’s Circus was a phenomenal attraction in Glasgow in the early 20th century (1904–1924), complete with gun shots, dynamite, theater flooding, bridges and ships smashed to pieces by tidal waves, etc. The soundtrack to an exhibition of the same name, Breakwell’s Circus is based on readings from Breakwell’s notes on Hengler’s Circus, incorporated into an electroacoustic montage of location recordings, interviews, piano, synthesizer and tape manipulation. The musical aspect is directed by British composer Ian McQueen (see here).
Recorded during a 1978 live performance at Riverside Studios, where Audio Arts held many events and exhibitions, Improvised Music is a stunning 30+mns improvisation by Hugh Davies & David Toop. Also a member of Artists’ Placement Group (like Paul Burwell, see previous post), live electronic music pioneer Hugh Davies (1943-2005) plays a self-build, detuned guitar producing grotesque industrial sounds, in addition to various self-build or found instruments. Toop plays his usual array of third world flutes and noise-making objects. Their music is formless, indefinable and unpredictable – and always makes you look forward for what will follow.
[Thanks Giuseppe for this great cassette]
01 Antonio Russolo Corale (2:05)
02 Antonio Russolo Serenata (2:42)
03 Ian Breakwell & Ian McQueen Breakwell’s Circus (25:03)
04 Ian McQueen Insight Into the Night (5:24)
05 Hugh Davies & David Toop Improvised Music (35:48)
Total time 71:02
Cassette released by Audio Arts, UK, 1979