Search Results for 'Tellus'

Tellus #24 ‘FluxTellus’

Barbara Moore's essay: 'The Sound Of Music?'Tellus #24 front-cover (picture shows a Yoko Ono performance, 1965)George Maciunas performing 'Carpenter's Piano Piece', 1964Tellus #24 cassette

01 Tomas Schmit ‘No. 13 [from Sanitas – 200 Theatre Pieces, 1962]’ (0:07)
02 George Brecht & James Tenney with George Maciunas ‘Entrance… (excerpt)’ (1:46)
03 Emmett Williams ‘Voice Piece for La Monte Young’ (0:04)
04 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
05 Joe Jones ‘Flux Music Box’ (2:36)
06 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
07 Jackson Mac Low ‘A Piece for Sari Dienes’ (10:03)
08 Tomas SchmitNo 13′ (0:07)
09 La Monte Young ’89 VI 8 c. 1:42-1:52 AM Paris Encore’ (10:33)
10 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
11 Philip Corner ‘Carrot Chew Performance’ (3:29)
12 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
13 Dick Higgins ‘Danger Music Number Seventeen’ (0:26)
14 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
15 George Brecht & James Tenney with George Maciunas ‘… Exit (excerpt)’ (1:45)
16 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
17 George Maciunas ‘Solo for Lips and Tongue’ (1:36)
18 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
19 Yasunao Tone ‘Anagram for Strings’ (6:58)
20 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
21 Alison Knowles ‘Nivea Cream Piece – for Emmet Williams’ (2:41)
22 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
23 Takehisa Kosugi ‘Micro 1’ (2:40)
24 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
25 Emmett Williams ‘Cellar Song for Five Voices’ (12:32)
26 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
27 Larry Miller ‘Lullaby for George Maciunas’ (2:58)
28 Tomas Schmit ‘No 13’ (0:07)
29 Robert Watts and Larry Miler ‘Laff Trace (excerpt)’ (0:53)

Total time 60:00
Cassette curated by Barbara Moore, released by Harvestworks, 1990
(comes with Takako Saito‘s Sound Box, 2 steel ball bearings inserted in the cassette holes, making rattling sounds when shaken)

This is where the Tellus founders paid their dues to LaMonte Young – to whom both Joseph Nechvatal and Carol Parkinson had been assistants – a man who would not let himself be pigeon-holed into Minimalism bullshit or any other genre, while opening doors to Fluxus performances, avant-rock and working hard to make American piano music sound fresh again. The first Fluxus performances and exhibitions took place in New York ca 1961 at George Maciunas’ AG Galery on Madison Avenue, including LaMonte Young, Yoko Ono and Toshi Ichiyanagi. In a way, Fluxus performance art can be considered a tentative to bring avant-garde music out of the concert hall and into the art galery, possibly for mere economical reasons: you’re not gonna sell a lot of avant-garde records, but an art piece can bring an income to the artist. In a Fluxus sound piece, you will experience musical jokes, un-musical sounds from classical instruments, boring situations lasting longer than necessary, (almost embarassing) indetermination, untrained interprets, awkward performances, sarcastic attacks on music establishment. Day-to-day life is brought to you in the art galery: eating an apple or a carrot, moving chairs, coughing, a crying baby, Nivea Cream, cleaning or generally breaking a lot of stuff (all featured in Tellus#24). Some Fluxus composers stick to traditional instruments, but in a way amplifying their out-of-date status or mocking their respectability. Tellus #24 FluxTellus is the Question Marks issue, with key topics like: what is music? what sound is suitable for a music piece? what is Fluxus without Maciunas? (1931-1978). The cassette is structured through Tomas Schmit‘s No.13, a series of blunt announcements from a speaking clock (known in the US as ‘Time-of-Day’ service). Interspersed within these 14 excerpts are various Fluxus historical performances by Fluxus original members. Some of them can be regarded as classical music today, like Alison Knowles‘s Nivea Cream Piece, Joe JonesMusic Box, Yasunao Tone’s Anagram for Strings, or Emmett Williamss monumental Cellar Song for Five Voices, a fascinating sound poetry piece, based on repetitive verses recited by 5 male performers, where the irony of the text is overtaken by the mantra-like quality of the performance.


Tellus #25 ‘Site-Less Sounds’


  1. Shelley Hirsch
  2. Gregory Whitehead
    How To Pronounce Prosthesis
    + M Is For The Million Things
    + This Is Not A Test
  3. David Moss
  4. Jacki Apple/Keith Antar Mason/Linda Albertano/Akilah Nayo Oliver
    Redefining Democracy in America (10:05)
  5. David Wojnarowicz & Ben Neil
    The Collapse Of The Illusory One-Tribe Nation (10:39)
  6. Constance Dejong & Brenda Hutchinson
    Vanishing Act (6:39)

Total time 55:36
CD released 1991 by Tellus
Curated by Claudia Gould, Carol Parkinson and Helen Thorington
Cover art & text: David Wojnarowicz

TELLUS issue #25 looks like a continuation from previous endeavors, namely #9 ‘Music With Memory’, 1985 (especially for the Brenda Hutchinson‘s interviews collage ‘Interlude from Voices Of Reason’) and #18 ‘Experimental Theater’, 1987, which included impressive readings on gender issues by Spalding Gray and Jerri Allyn, amongst others. Tellus #25 ‘Site-Less Sounds’ is a theater of voices with all contributions based on reading, sound poetry and language, as well as extended use of recording studio facilities (including Studio Pass on tracks #1 & 6). The works on this CD mingle semantics with politics, mirroring racial, political and gender issues with semantics/phonetics. Language is considered the tool of oppression itself (via media overload, political blabber and daily prejudices) and the means of liberation at the same time, providing composers and the people use it as a weapon. Which more or less sums up the political point of view of Tellus producers and allies. Additionally this issue of Tellus can be considered a testament to their creative ethos: a cleverly curated project with well chosen contributors given absolute artistic freedom and access to up-to-date technology. One of the 3 curators for Tellus #25 is Helen Thorington, a US sound artist and New American Radio producer who started her carreer as a writer. As a matter of fact, several contributions on the CD are based on literature. It all starts with the sexy voice of Shelley Hirsch reading from Angela Carter’s Dr. Hoffman’s Infernal Machines Of Desire (1972) with added processed breathing. David Moss‘s Conjure is based on Italian writer Italo Calvino. David Wojnarowicz (1954-1992) was a gay writer and performance artist. His ‘Collapse Of The Illusory One-Tribe Nation’ is a shatteringly powerful track in which Wojnarowicz unleashes endless, angry rants on politics and gender issues amid a complex web of noise and sound treatment, apparently the result of many studio hours. Track #4, a collective collage work conducted by Jacki Apple, describes prejudices that prevailed under Ronald Reagan, even if his second term ended way back in 1989. This is an excerpt from a longer work commissioned by New American Radio. It is at times hilarious, and at times scary. At 6:36, a young black contributor says: ‘Make me President tonight’, while at 9:00, a woman says: ‘A woman will be President’. History is only half-way to fulfill these dreams.


. . . . . . . . . .

H. Thorington:
D. Wojnarowicz:
Jacki Apple:

TellusTools 2xLP set

01 Nicolas Collins ‘Devil’s Music 1 (excerpt)’ (3:26)
02 Louise Lawler ‘Birdcalls’ (6:30)
03 Isaac Jackson ‘Messages (excerpts)’ (6:28)
04 Kiki Smith ‘Life Want To Live’ (1:40)
05 Alan Tomlinson ‘Floor Polish Tango’ (3:26)
06 Joe Jones ‘Flux Music Box’ (2:28)
07 Christian Marclay ‘Groove’ (5:06)
08 Alison Knowles ‘Nivea Cream Piece’ (2:32)
09 Ken Montgomery ‘ICEBREAKER (excerpt)’ (6:49)
10 Catherine Jauniaux & Ikue Mori ‘Smell’ (4:56)
Break beats:
11 David Linton ‘Shattering Glass’ (0:43)
12 Gregory Whitehead ‘Eva Can I Stab Bats In A Cave’ (0:35)
13 The League Of Automatic Composers ‘Micro-Computer Network’ (0:40)
14 Maurice Lemaître ‘Lettre Rock’ (0:38)
15 Jerry Lindhal ‘The Indian Elephant’ (0:35)
16 Tim Schellenbaum ‘Tarantela’ (0:37)
17 Jack Goldstein ‘The Weep’ (0:35)

Total time: 47:40
2xLP released 2001, Harvestworks TE-LP01

Curated by Taketo Shimada.
Gatefold cover art by Christian Marclay.
Limited edition of 500.
25 were sold for $450 with original audio tape photogram by Christian Marclay (pictured left)
and now sells for $2,500 at Printed Matter, NY.
My edition is the ordinary issue, alas.

A legendary twin-release, TellusTools was a 2LP set meant as a Tellus resumé and a DJ tool, albeit purposedly intended for ‘perspective DJs’ (according to liner notes). Basically, this is a Tellus survey conceived by curator Taketo Shimada, with 7 Tellus sound excerpts added at end of side 2 for break-beat purposes. Both discs have the same content to allow creative mixing on 2 turntables. A New York resident since the late 1980s, Taketo Shimada graduated from MIT in 1997. A visual artist and musician, he was then a member of the band Messages along Tres Warren. He has worked with Herbert Huncke, Henry Flynt, Rammellzee, Cory Arcangel, Lary 7 and Alison Knowles, a.o. He organized the Fluxsweet event performances at Harvestworks, NYC, 2005, taking part in performing sound art pieces by Alison Knowles, Joe Jones and Larry Miller, along performers Kirby Gookin, Beckett Gookin, Jessica Higgins, Alison Knowles, Nancy Hwang and Noura Al-Salem. The TellusTools’ cover art by Christian Marclay is gorgeous, an arrangement of spread out Tellus cassettes and dischevelled audio tape. Musically speaking, the choice is clearly aiming at sound art – no electric guitar here, no improvisation, no theater–, and participants are mostly US sound artists from NY’s early 1990s art milieu. Basquiat even found his way – along Rammelzee – on Isaac Jackson’s radio show excerpt from 1982, for an exqusite early hip-hop session. Other tracks include concrete/plunderphonic experiments, avant-song and performance pieces.

I can’t help regret there were no regular Tellus issue on vynil and they jumped directly from Tellus cassette #24 (FluxTellus) to their first CD, without further experiencing the LP format. The music on TellusTools is less focussed than previous thematical Tellus issues, but the choice of tracks is faultless, all being masterpieces of one kind or another. The pressing quality is impressive, with sounds spurting from the speakers in vivid stereo, a pleasure not exactly experienced with previous tape releases. Additionaly, I felt I had to try my hands at mixing or something. So included in the download file is a mini-mix I made with Audacity with samples from the TellusTools mp3s. No djing proper, but an hommage to the Tools’ possibilities.

Note: my Tellus cassettography incorrectly stated TellusTools was released 1992, which was wrong. I updated it with the proper info (confirmed by a Carol Parkinson email). I corrected the Wikipedia page as well. May I suggest the UbuWeb staff to update their Tellus archive page accordingly?

Download TellusTools.

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.

Tellus #20 ‘Media Myth’


01 Randy Greif ‘The Rift In The Earth’ (8:15)
02 Pierre Perret ‘Gaïa, La Terre (excerpt)’ (3:45)
03 The Psychic Workshop ‘Apocalypse from Transmissions of Decadence’ (2:26)
04 Social Interiors ‘Russian Around’ (2:32)
05 If, Bwana ‘The Sound Of…’ (2:55)
06 Crawling With Tarts ‘Plowing And Tilling’ (5:21)
07 Violence and The Sacred ‘Teddy Bear Stinks Real Bad Now (Excerpt)’ (2:47)
08 Art Interface ‘Music For Fans #1’ (5:17)
09 Minoy ‘Tango’ (5:34)
10 Nicolas Collins ‘Devil’s Music 1 (Excerpt)’ (3:15)
11 Silent, But Deadly ‘What’s New Pussy?’ (3:42)
12 JPM Studios ‘#5’ (2:41)
13 Joseph Nechvatal ‘Psychedelic Hermeneutic’ (1:37)
14 A Place To Pray ‘Thelema (excerpt)’ (5:13)
15 Maurice Methot ‘Overture From La Dolarosa’ (2:08)
16 Michael Chockolak ‘Skomorokhi’ (2:59)
17 Dance ‘Nagasaki’ (4:20)
Total time: 64:38
Published 1988. Curated by Joseph Nechvatal.

After he curated ‘Power Electronics’ (Tellus#13) back in 1986, Joseph Nechvatal was back 2 years later with a more ear-friendly but no less challenging compilation tape in the Tellus series. A founding member of Tellus (and Harverstworks?) he also contributed artwork to issue #4 and, as a composer, appeared several times on various Tellus issues. ‘Media Myth’ is devoted to composers using mass-media quotations and audio-samples, and favoring sound-surgery as a composing method, that is: sampling, collage or concrete music.

The Michael Chockolak track (actually ‘Chocholak’) is a beautiful sampler lullaby using ethnic chant as source material, a bit like a slowed-down version of Roberto Musci & Giovanni Venosta. There’s another beautiful electronic instrumental melody by Californian Minoy, a kind of valse. Several composers like Art Interface, Crawling With Tarts or Pierre Perret [+] choose soothing sounds to achieve their de-construction of our sonic environment, the latter delivering his personal take on concrete music out of field-recordings. Wether concrete music is collage music or social commentary is open to discussion, though. More often than not on this tape, composers will unceremoniously sample from pop songs, famous operas, preachermen, porn material or public announcements (Maurice Methot, A Place To Pray (Rune Brøndbo and Olav Hagen from Germany, see their homepage). I assume the goal is to put everything into perspective, to create ironical conflagrations of nonsensical sound bits – especially in the Silent, But Deadly track, a risqué play on ‘What’s New Pussycat’. The name of the band says it all, I guess. The band included the famous NY dj Special Ed, worth checking out on WFMU. The Nicolas Collins’ sound concatenation is even more cruel, where the needle-like precision samples are so short as to erase any meaning the sound excerpts might have for the listener, and you’re left with pure meaningless aural stimulus – arguably what the composer think of mass media muzzak. Canadian collective Violence And The Sacred use Maoist-era chinese samples to good effect, in a juxtaposition with media idle chatter. Aussies Social Interior achieve similar surreal effects with russian language – the most exhilarating track on Tellus #20. It seems participants consider language as something to de-construct, to reduce to bits, to pulverize anyhow.

On his blog, Joseph Nechvatal posted this article called ‘Towards a Sound Ecstatic Electronica’, written 2000, including theoretical afterthoughts on the two Tellus cassettes he curated. He starts with describing the political and moral context of the Reagan era (1981-89), the so-called ‘reaganomics’. A time of media hysteria and massive information overload where huge amounts of phantasmagorical data are flooding from every possible medium. At the heart of his theory is the assumption that artists politically react to this media overload with ‘anti-social phantasmagoria’, at best ultimately reducing the information to its bare ‘nerve energy’. Nechvatal assume electronic technology can be an antithesis to the controlling technical world. It is thus the electronic composer’s responsibility to be aware of his environment and to make us conscious of its wickedness. We’re talking here about the 1986-88 period, while Reagan was still in charge. This was also the time when Lloyd Dunn’s ‘Photostatic’ magazine (1983-93) was published in Iowa, advocating xerography as a political graphic weapon ; supreme ironist Negativland released their ‘Escape from Noise’ LP in California in 1987 ; John Oswald released his Plunderphonics’ EP in 1988. So this was definitely a time for cultural terrorism in the US. Nechvatal’s writing is infused with french theory. We find echoes from Baudrillard’s excess of signs theory and the copy-replacing-the-original motto. Jacques Attali’s ‘Noise’ (translated in the US in 1985) comes to mind as well, where he considers music as a mere industrial sector but still pop music as a strain of subversion. These ambitious post-structuralist references enhance the impact of the 2 cassettes Joseph Nechvatal curated (Tellus #13 & 20), and I have yet to read a more challenging piece of writing on humble cassette releases.

May I conjecture, though, the 1980s material abundance served to hide the increasing formidable US debt under Reagan. Might one then not ask what the accordingly excessive information overload of the 1980s served to hide? I think this would be a valid question, and the answer might come as an inflatable hollow structure holding nothing but its own lack of substance – this is the Myth from the cassette title, after all, and myths are created by artists. Jacques Attali again: ‘Music runs parallel to human society, is structured like it, and changes when it does.’ The media frenzy opening on total intellectual void, I suspect addressing the media overload is like addressing a mirage. My point is this: the artists on ‘Media Myth’ were more taking part in the media overload than reacting against it. Just because you use a sampler doesn’t make a cultural theorist out of you, at least not much more than the use of a banjo. But admittedly on ‘Media Myth’, unlike the media dumkopfs they vilipended, composers delivered exciting and engaging music.


Tellus #12 ‘Dance’


01 Bill Obrecht ‘Untitled’ (1:30)
02 A. Leroy ‘Arcade’ (3:12)
03 Richard McGuire ‘You’ (2:43)
04 Carol Parkinson ‘Heavybeat’ (4:12)
05 Linda Fisher ‘Send Forth A Current’ (4:30)
06 Lenny Pickett ‘Dance Music for 4 Saxophones #3’ (5:36)
07 Anita Feldman and Michael Kowalski ‘Riffle’ (2:35)
08 J.A. Deane ‘The Beats’ (2:45)
09 Gretchen Langheld ‘Desire Brings You Back Again’ (4:59)
10 Bruce Tovsky ‘Field’ (2:04)
11 Brooks Williams ‘Demented Folk Tune’ (2:17)
12 Jim Farmer ‘Emperor’s Clothes’ (4:18)
13 Hearn Gadbois ‘GAHT MAYH MOH8 JOH3 WOYKIHN’ (3:14)
14 Liquid Liquid ‘Grove To Go’ (4:17)
15 Al Diaz ‘What’s In A Name’ (3:32)
16 David Linton ‘L’eau d’artifice’ (4:20)
Total time: 56:20
Cover artwork: Barbara Ess
Release date: 1986

Curated by Gretchen Langheld and Bruce Tovsky, ‘Dance’ is a gathering of 1) works comissionned by choreographers, 2) instrumental songs based on dance rhythms or even 3) plain, unadulterated dance music. This Tellus issue include the most straightforward music to be found in the entire series. Some of the contributions sound like Gray or Liquid Liquid, or anything on the Anti-NY compilation, that is, bleak white funk on heavy beats & bass. All very energetic and making creative use of the studio facilities. Most surprising for me were the sax/trumpet crazynesss in Bill Obrecht and Lenny Picket instrumentals; the speech synthesis in Hearn Gadbois‘ cover of Muddy Waters’s ‘Got My Mojo Working’, which wouldn’t be out o place on Tellus #22 ‘False Phonemes’. It’s a delight to have an unreleased live track by Liquid Liquid, a drum/synth-based song in primitive mood and chorale singing. And everything in between, from drum machine tracks, to mambo (Al Diaz), to romantic violin. Beautiful contribution of saxophone and FM guitar on Gretchen Langheld‘s Desire.


Tellus #23 ‘The Voices of Paul Bowles’


  1. Le Coran Cheikh ‘Sourat Yassine’, performed by Abdel Samad (01:15)
  2. Paul Bowles, narrator ‘Allal’ (26.38)
  3. Cheikh Hamed bel Hadj Hamadi ben Allal and ensemble ‘Reh Dial Beni Bouhiya’ (03:00)
  4. Paul Bowles ‘Music for a Farce I’, 1936, performed by Chicago Pro Musica (01:10)
  5. Paul Bowles, narrator ‘Points in Time IV’ (05:40)
  6. Cheikh Ayyad ou Haddou and ensemble ‘Oukha Dial Kheir’ (03:10)
  7. Interlude: conversations at Hotel Rif and ‘Prelude #2’ from six preludes for piano performed by Bennett Lerner, Etcetera (02:00)
  8. Paul Bowles, narrator ‘The Garden’ (07:45)
  9. Rais Mahamad ben Mohammed and ensemble ‘Aouda Trio’ (02:55)
  10. Paul Bowles ‘Secret Words’, 1943. William Sharp: baritone; Steven Blier: piano (02:30)
  11. Paul Bowles, narrator ‘Points in Time XI’ (01:20)

Total time: 56:30
Curated by Claudia Gould and Stephen Frailey
Released 1989

    . . . . . . . . . .

    Till the age of 40, Paul Bowles (1910-1999) was a composer and music critic, composing for Broadway musicals, Hollywood movie scores, incidental music for ballet. He once aknowledged to be a composer of ‘hotel music’, though his serious music calls to mind that of Copland, Virgil Thomson, Francis Poulenc or Satie. It is actually when he get tired of writing easy music that he turned to writing literature.

    Curated by Claudia Gould and Stephen Frailey, ‘The Voices of Paul Bowles’ is an audio portrait combining some of the composer’s music with readings from his own texts, morrocan traditional music and location recordings from Tangier and Morroco where he lived from 1947. The most striking device is the handsome and warm voice of Bowles reading through his writings. Also notable are the lively field recordings of folk local music Bowles made himself in 1959 (tracks #01, 03, 06 & 09). The simoon (my conjecture) heard at the end of ‘The Garden’, track #08, is a short but evocative recording of a North Africa typical wind. Bowles own compositions are exquisite vignettes full of humour and wit.

    A microcosm in itself, a day in the life of Paul Bowles, the tape starts with the muezzin’s morning call to prayer and ends with dogs barking at sunset, an amazing barking chorale recorded amid the rising desert wind. A poignant conclusion to an utterly beautiful tape.

    . . . . . . . . . .


    Tellus #26 ‘Jewel Box’


    Tellus Jewel Box, 1992
    A Harvestworks 15th anniversary production
    Cover art by Kiki Smith

    01 Anne LeBaron ‘Blue Harp Study 1’ (4:39)
    02 Laetitia Sonami ‘Story Road’ (10:00)
    03 Sussan Deihim ‘Navai’ (5:50)
    04 Bun Ching Lam ‘EO-9066’ (15:21)
    05 Catherine Jauniaux & Ikue Mori ‘Smell’ (4 :10)
    06 Sapphire ‘Boys Love Baseball’ (2:30)
    07 Mary Ellen Childs ‘Ruler Etude: a work in progress’ (2:15)
    08 Michelle Kinney ‘Coordinated Universal Time’ (12:25)
    09 Anne LeBaron ‘Blue Harp Study 2’ (6:57)

    Anne LeBaron, Laetitia Sonami, Sussan Deihim
    Bun-Ching Lam, Catherine Jauniaux, Ikue Mori
    Sapphire, Mary Ellen Childs, Michele Kinney

    Harvestworks’ Artist-In-Residence program allowed edible artists using sound to benefit from a New York professionally equiped studio called Studio PASS, whose technicians in 1992 were Alex Noyes and Brian Karl. This is were the pieces on this CD were conceived, some making full use of the studio facilities (rerecording, sampler), so that the ‘Jewel Box’ of the title might as well be the studio itself.

    Teheran born Sussan Deihim‘s Navai is an a cappella song making full use of the rerecording technique to create a small choir duetting with Deihim’s own leading vocals. Her warm voice sends chills to one’s spine, as in the landmark 1986 album ‘Desert Equations: Azax Attra’ (with Richard Horowitz). Bun-Ching Lam‘s EO-9066 is another vocal exploit, using fragments and sampler recombinations of voice samples. With wind sounds a permanent feature, the soundscape thus created is bleak and depressed, though actually an elegy to the internment of Japanese americans in the US during WWII. The most complex and ambitious piece on this CD. Ikue Mori deploys her usual devilish drum machine programing on her duo with belgian singer Catherine Jauniaux delivering a poem of her own on the subject of odors and… Smell. There’s something of Jean Dubuffet in these experiments with words and sonorities. I had never thought a humble plastic ruler would produce such gorgeous sounds, as in Mary Ellen Childs‘ Ruler Etude. It sounds like musique concrete’s basic experiments from the 1940s (Pierre Schaeffer: Etude aux objets, Etude aux chemins de fer, Etude aux casseroles).

    Several contributions on Jewel Box are based on storytelling of one kind or another. From the plain text reading by Sapphire, to the elaborated Laetitia Sonami narratives (from texts by writer Melody Summer), it is interesting to notice how much these composers refer to the oral tradition of story telling. I might conjecture they were trying to emancipate themselves from the forefathers of US experimental music to explore lesser known territories with less references. This should be the rule for any musician, as far as I’m concerned.


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