Californian performer and audio artist Jackie Apple produced the Soundings radio show on KPFK-FM Los Angeles Public Radio from 1981-1995, where she aired experimental music and sound art and commissioned numerous new radio plays from US sound artists. Between 1983 and 1995, she was a contributing editor to the quarterly journal High Performance founded by Linda Frye Burnham in Los Angeles (1978-1997). One of Jacki Apple’s first release was the artist book Trunk Pieces, published in 1978 by Visual Studies Workshop Press, Rochester, a collection of found photographs used to create a semi-autobiographical narrative – a process similar to her use of archive recordings and found sounds in her audio works. Apple’s soundwork Black Holes/Blue Sky Dreams was included in the Airwaves compilation LP on One Ten Records in 1977 along Meredith Monk, Laurie Anderson and Terry Fox, a.o. Jacki Apple is professor at Pasadena College of Design since 1983.
♫ The Mexican Tapes was Jacki Apple’s first full-length disc release. It was published in 1980 by One Ten Records – who put out Laurie Anderson’s O Superman single in 1981. The soundtrack to a Super 8 color film, The Mexican Tapes is a complex combination of archive recordings, fictionnal investigation and spoken word interwoven into a multi-layered narrative. It is actually a polyphony of male and female voices reading simultaneously from a variety of sources including Mayan and Aztec sacred texts, diplomatic and CIA papers, US presidents speeches, Cold War propaganda, excerpts from Octavio Paz or Roland Barthes books, Trotsky’s stay in Mexico, the 1968 Mexico Olympics, etc. At times, there’s an exquisite underlying ambient music soundtrack made of small percussion, whistling, flute and sound effects, an allusion to Ancient Mayan music in the way Jorge Reyes did, just much more minimal. But I must confess I struggle to grasp the meaning of this collage or to reconstitute a coherent narrative in The Mexican Tapes.
01 The Mexican Tapes (24:54)
02 The Mexican Tapes – continued (26:20)
Total time 51:14
LP released by One Ten Records, ref. 003, New York, N.Y., USA, 1980