US independent radio producer Jim Metzner was born in New York, graduated from Yale School of Drama in 1969 and received a BA in ethnomusicology from University of Massachusetts in Amherst in 1975. He started producing radio features around this time, the first being Voices in the Wind for National Public Radio, followed by You’re Hearing Boston (1979-80) for WEEI-FM (CBS), You’re Hearing San Francisco (1982) for KYUU (NBC) and You’re Hearing America (1983-84), distributed on a network of 50 radios across the US. In the 1980s, Metzner specialized in daily, short format series of typically 2-mn programs like You’re Hearing America. He’s also a believer in binaural recording and multichannel diffusion. Since 1989, he’s the respected producer of Pulse of the Planet.
In the mid-1970s, Metzner published three issues of his Sound Image music magazine LPs. The series included archive sounds, field recordings, sound art on the LP, and photographs and essays on the accompanying portfolio. Today’s post is Vol. 1, while Vol. 2 was about Greece and Vol. 3 about Brazil, titled Bahia–Traditional Music of Brazil with photographs by Jay Maisel.
♫ This LP is a baffling collection of microtonal music, musique concrète, electronic sounds, field recordings, ethnic music, free jazz, poetry reading and… balloon music. The disciplines of sport, science, ethnomusicology or literature are covered, typical from Metzner’s wide ranging interests as a radio producer. There’s admittedly some bravura in the juxtaposition of all these different styles and themes, yet it coalesce somehow thanks to Metzner’s skillful mixing. It starts with two aeolian harp recordings from an instrument build by Paul Dixon. These lovely sounds remind Harry Bee and Chuck Hancock’s The Wind Harp – Song from the Hill 1972 double LP anthology, save for the addition of electric guitar and the sound of children playing in the background on #2. The wonderful #3 Squash is harpist Julie Haines playing recorder and xylophone in a reverberant squash court, making the best of the room’s resonant acoustics, much like Peter Van Riper will do in the late 1970s. Track #5 offers a demonstration of balloon music by Margaret Rebar, from Hampshire College, Mass., yet more as a joke than what Judy Dunaway would do in the 1990s. Doctor Dick Manchester is a pioneering pulsar hunter, and tr. #6 offers an early recording. Metzner himself contributes several sound collages in addition to his aeolian harp recordings. Daniel Pinkham‘s August Landscape is an electronic music piece.
Photographers appearing in the black & white portfolio, included as a PDF in the d/l file, are: Burt Glinn (cover art), John Goodman, Lotte Jacobi, Marc Orlove, Ralph Gibson, Andre Kertesz, Gus Kayafas, Minor White and John Gutmann.
Sound Image – A Magazine of Aural and Visual Arts, Vol.1:
01 James Metzner Aeolian Harp – solo harp (6:17)
02 James Metzner Aeolian Harp – with guitar (3:42)
03 Julie Haines Squash (3:15)
04 Bill Cole Walla Walla, Washington (2:23)
05 Margaret Rebar Sonata for a Spring Afternoon (1:34)
06 Richard Manchester Pulsar PSR 083-45 (1:18)
07 James Metzner Freeze Madagascar (1:23)
08 James Metzner Running With The Indians (1:45)
09 Robert Francis Like Ghost of Eagles + The Hawk (2:36)
10 Daniel Pinkham August Landscape (3:19)
11 J. Rainbow Who Sings The Song In Your Heart? (2:29)
12 James Metzner Baseball Transformation (0:53)
Total time 30:54
LP released by Sound Image Inc., Amherst, Mass., 1975