Archive for the 'sound art' Category

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There won’t be any more posts on this blog. Time to move to other projects.
Thanks to all the people who have supported the blog during these 5 years.

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Various – Walrus compilation

Walrus compilation 2xLP front cover
Walrus compilation 2xLP back cover
Walrus compilation 2xLP Oosterlynck side
Walrus compilation 2xLP Eric de Visscher side

Including Walloon- and Flemish-based composers from the Brussels area (Bierges, Archennes, Leuven), this double LP set, the sole compilation to appear on Lawalrée’s Walrus Records, is also the most experimental release on the label. Dominique Lawalrée‘s own contribution, a static, elongated electric organ drone punctuated with pointillistic electronic ornaments, is more radical than other works I posted previously. The only work on this disc to make use of musique concrète sounds, extensive sound processing and studio treatment, Baudouin Oosterlynck‘s disturbing, S&M soundtrack Suite for a Bondage Room was included in the 4-CD box-set retrospective on Metaphon in 2008. The minimalist piano music of With Hidden Noise (after Marcel Duchamp) was recorded by Eric de Visscher when he was only 23-years old and is his first record release. A composer, music theorist and John Cage specialist, de Visscher became director of IRCAM in 1997 until 2003 when he became director of Musée de la Musique in Paris. Born in 1938, Robert Fesler may be the oldest composer on this compilation, yet his music sounds like contemporary electronica. Fesler was an electronic engineer who built his own synthesizer, in this case the “RPF 756”.

01 Dominique Lawalrée Still Life (18:55)
02 Baudouin Oosterlynck Suite for a Bondage Room (21:42)
03 Eric De Visscher With Hidden Noise (19:00)
04 Robert Fesler Tristesse (12:20)
05 Robert Fesler Le Temps des Poissons Touche à sa Fin (9:50)

Total time 1h 21mns
2xLP released by Walrus, ref. WLS 12 & 13, Brussels, Belgium, 1984


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Various – The Inaugural Perth Festival of Improvised Music

Inaugural Perth Festival of Improvised Music LP front cover
Inaugural Perth Festival of Improvised Music LP back cover
Inaugural Perth Festival of Improvised Music LP side 1

Inspired by Jon Rose’s first Relative Band Festival held in Sydney in 1984 – where Ross Bolleter, Tos Mahoney, Mark Cain and Richard Ratajczak all performed–, the first Perth Festival of Improvised Music took place in April 1985 at Praxis Gallery in Fremantle, Western Australia, and was directed by flautist Tos Mahoney, half of the Fremantle-based Alone Together duo with Ross Bolletter, whose first cassette also appeared in 1985. The musicians performing during the 1st Perth Festival formed the nucleus of free music improvisation in Western Australia during the 1980s and, to a large extend, still do today. The festival also included performances by saxophonist Steve Moore and singer Gillian McGregor, both visiting musicians from Great Britain. There was a 2nd edition of the Perth festival in 1986.

Instead of documenting the festival’s proceedings in chronological, successive solos, duets, trio, etc, producer Robbie Muir chose to create a continuous mix from the individual tracks he recorded. He completely succeeded in recreating a collective performance incorporating music theatre, invented instruments and contemporary music elements. The musicians themselves favor abstract sound textures, long held notes and extended techniques, which all melt effortlessly in Muir’s mix. Ross Bolleter is well-known today for his ruined piano outdoor performances, but at the times he was merely using inside-the-piano techniques in his music.

01 Perth Festival of Improvised Music (24:14)

  • Gillian McGregor
  • Ross Bolleter & Tos Mahoney
  • Mark Cain & Steve Moore
  • Richard Ratajczak, Gillian McGregor & Tos Mahoney
  • Ross Bolleter, Richard Ratajczak & Mark Cain
  • Tos Mahoney & Mark Cain

02 Perth Festival of Improvised Music – continued (23:58)

  • Richard Ratajczak
  • Ross Bolleter & Steve Moore
  • P.F.I.M. Ensemble

Ross Bolleter, piano, piano accordion
Mark Cain, woodwind, didgeridoo
Gillian McGregor, vocals
Tos Mahoney, flute
Steve Moore, soprano saxophone
Richard Ratajczak, double bass
The P.F.I.M. Ensemble = all the above

Total time 48:12
LP released by Impro Records, Perth(?), Australia, 1985

Download or download (alternate link)

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Joan Fontcuberta & Das Synthetische Mischgewebe – El Jardi de les Delicies

El Jardi de les Delicies booklet cover
El Jardi de les Delicies booklet page
El Jardi de les Delicies 7-inch record side 1
El Jardi de les Delicies 7-inch record side 2

The work of Spanish photographer and conceptual artist Joan Fontcuberta, born 1955, confronts a pseudo-scientific approach to a highly aestheticized pictorial technique. His photos and installations document the results of an imaginary biological or historical research with fake animal species or freaks out of a cabinet of curiosity – like in the 1980 boardgame Quirks. In a way, he applies to photography the same processes as Gregory Whitehead applied to language – focusing on dereliction, combining opposites and applying a distancing effect. Fontcuberta had been showing his work in art galleries since the early 1980s when he sat up this exhibition, held at Centre d’Art Santa Mònica gallery in Barcelona in 1990. Titled El Jardi de les Delicies, or The Garden of Earthly Delights, it was an installation of photographs, stuffed animals, slide projection and sound. The 20pp catalogue came with a 7-inch record by Das Synthetische Mischgewebe, then based in Barcelona and comprising Isabelle Chemin, Guido Hübner and Carlos Jovellar for this project.

As the El Jardi de les Delicies exhibition included a number of frottograms, that is, negative Polaroid films rubbed against the actual object/animal represented on the film, the Das Synthetische Mischgewebe trio have recorded the rather physical process and came out with an immediate, vivid composition they called “frotto/fonos”, as they also presumably actually rubbed the microphone on stuffed animals or a serpent’s skin. Between noise and musique concrète, their soundtrack deliciously sounds like a microphone searching its way inside a fox’s earth!

01 The Growing (1:30)
02 Of the Results (3:27)
03 Into the State (3:41)
04 Of Hyperreality (1:21)

Total time 9:59
Catalogue+7inch record released by Generalitat de Catalunya and Centre d’Art Santa Mònica, Barcelona, Spain, 1990


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Peter Van Riper & Georg de Christal – I Am I Am I Am I Am

Peter Van Riper & Georg de Christal k7 cover
Peter Van Riper & Georg de Christal k7 side 2Peter Van Riper & Georg de Christal k7 side 1

Supposed to be a collaboration with one “Georg de Christal” (who he?), this cassette is more probably a regular solo effort, albeit a rare occurrence of Peter Van Riper heard singing along his usual metallic resonances from percussion. Or so it seems listening to side B, since side A was completely silent on my copy of this tape. On Nook & Cranny, Van Riper produces simple chords from low resonance metallic objects, over which he musters a mysterious, wordless incantation that is more mystical than we are used to from previous works.

On a side note, I heard The Kitchen archive project is about to be put online and might include digitized recordings from performances as well as films, pictures and documents. I hope this might include some Peter Van Riper footage since Rhys Chatham told me he invited Peter Van Riper several times to perform at The Kitchen while he was music director of the venue (1972–1973 and 1977–1980). There was even a series called “Dancing in The Kitchen” where contemporary dancer and Van Riper collaborator Simone Forti might have been invited to perform.

[Thanks to Giuseppe for this cassette]

Nook & Cranny (9:10)

Total time 9:10
Self-released cassette, Brooklyn, NY, [1986?]


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Peter Van Riper – Direct Contact

Peter Van Riper - Direct Contact k7 front cover
Peter Van Riper - Direct Contact k7 back cover
Peter Van Riper - Direct Contact k7 side 1

The undated Direct Contact cassette collects various excerpts from performances and improvisations where Peter Van Riper explores room acoustics and resonances from a variety of percussion instruments. The montage enhances the peculiarities and contrast between each instrument’s resonance properties, the latter including, among others, wooden stick and rattle, cow bell, sea shells, triangle, bar chimes and, of course, aluminum alloy baseball bats, the Van Riper trademark. Also used are a variety of metal rods, glass jars, found objects and junk materials. A dog is heard barking on track #1 near 14:50. Nothing happens in terms of rhythm and melody, the focus is on resonances and a minute attention to reverberation and echo. In this respect, Direct Contact perfectly sums up Van Riper’s methodology and approach to sound art. The “official” website (actually a Tumblr blog maintained by a Van Riper enthusiast) offers some information on this cassette, including individual track titles and instrumentation, as well as pointing to the “double hearing” concept, which, I suppose, refers to hearing one instrument and its echoed image at the same time.

01 Direct Contact side I (22:36)
02 Direct Contact side II (19:25)

Total time 42:01
Self-released cassette, Brooklyn, NY, [1994?]


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Various – Lovely Little Records

Various - Lovely Little Records box front cover
Various - Lovely Little Records box back cover
Various - Lovely Little Records box set
Various - Lovely Little Records, John Bishoff side B
Various - Lovely Little Records, Paul DeMarinis side B
Various - Lovely Little Records, Maggi Payne side A

Avantgarde music company Lovely Music, Ltd was founded by Robert Ashley’s wife Mimi Johnson in New York in 1978. Apart from Ashley’s magnum opus Perfect Lives in 1983, Lovely published Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Pauline Oliveros or Annea Lockwood, among others. Still active today after almost 35 years, Lovely is a major avantgarde music label.

Published in 1980, this box set of single records introduced new artists of the Lovely stable, in addition to early associate “Blue” Gene Tyranny, who already had 3 LPs out on Lovely in 1980. Some of these composers, but not all, will later release full-length LPs on Lovely, like Paul DeMarinis or Maggi Payne. Most composers here (e.g.: Bischoff, DeMarinis, Payne, Gene Tyranny) came from the Mills College Center for Contemporary Music, directed by Robert Ashley in the 1970s, hence the presence of the Golden Gate Bridge on the cover. In any case, as far as I can tell, these tracks are exclusive to this compilation and never appeared elsewhere.

♫ John Bischoff introduces some of his early, hacked computer sounds and DIY circuitry with legendary band The League of Automatic Music Composers, as well as a solo recording mixing car engine sounds and oscillators. Paul DeMarinis‘ two tracks weren’t included on his Music As A Second Language CD on Lovely in 1991. If God Were Alive… is for voice, tamboura and modified Speack’n’ Spell. A classicaly-trained flutist, event organizer and musical activist, Phil Harmonic, aka Kenneth Werner (1949–1992), contributes two tracks of sound collages from street recordings, radio broadcasts, rehearsals, found sounds or conversations. Frankie Mann was a Californian experimental radio producer in the late 1970s, running a show on Berkeley’s KPFA-FM, the radio where Charles Amirkhanian broadcasted his famous avantgarde music shows and interviews. Mann’s 2 tracks here are rather different, the first being a minimalist, new wave-ish song, the other an electroacoustic collage. After a pair of floating, out-of-this world electronic tracks by Maggi Payne, “Blue” Gene Tyranny delivers his portrait of San Francisco politician and gay activist Harvey Milk, based on demonstration recordings, political address and electronic sounds.

John Bischoff
01 Silhouette (6:05)
02 The League Of Automatic Music Composers, December 17, 1978 (8:52)
Paul DeMarinis
03 If God Were Alive (& He Is) You Could Reach Him By Telephone (7:28)
04 Forest Booties (10:56)
Phil Harmonic
05 Phil Harmonic’s Greatest Hits (7:52)
06 WPA/Composite Mix (9:18)
Frankie Mann
07 I Was A Hero From The Mayan Debutante Revue (9:31)
08 How To Be Very Very Popular (Excerpt) (8:59)
Maggi Payne
09 Lunar Desk Lunar Dusk (7:56)
10 Lunar Earthrise (Excerpt) (7:38)
“Blue” Gene Tyranny
11 Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part I – The Action (9:23)
12 Harvey Milk (Portrait) Part II – The Feeling (9:51)

Total time 1h43mn
Box-set with six 7-inch records issued by Lovely Music, NYC, 1980

Download (incl. 28pp PDF booklet)

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Oscar Vargas Leal & David Espejo Aviles – Cromometrofonia No.1 c/w Cometa 1973

Oscar Vargas y David Espejo – Cromometrofonia LP front cover
Oscar Vargas y David Espejo – Cromometrofonia LP back cover
Oscar Vargas y David Espejo – Cromometrofonia LP lado A

This disc pairs two compositions for special harps in 16th tones intervals, known as arpa citera, inspired by Mexican microtonal composer Julián Carrillo (1875-1965). While until the 1920s, Carrillo composed traditional, so to speak, atonal music, after this date, starting with Preludio a Colón, in 1922, he dedicated himself to compose exclusively in microintervals, a goal he pursued until his death in 1965. Carrillo divided the octave into various number of notes, from 16 to as much as 96 intervals for what is known as his Sonido 13 (“Sonido trece”) system, or the thirteenth tone. Between 1926 and the 1950s, Carrillo conceived several models of microtonal pianos and harps, but they weren’t build until 1958 when fifteen Sonido 13 pianos were exhibited during the Brussels World Fair in Belgium.

David Espejo Aviles and Oscar Vargas LealThe pair of arpa citera used on this disc were presumably build around 1973 by Carrillo’s last students and disciples David Espejo Aviles and Oscar Vargas Leal, who also composed the two works recorded here. These vertical harps can play 400 notes with very short intervals. In addition to the strangeness of the tuning, the musicians use a lot of ascending and descending glissandos, decaying tones and, of course, the sounds of the 2 harps also create harmonics and unusual intervals. This eerie and out-of-this-world music will be familiar to people already accustomed to Ivan Wychnegradsky or Alois Hába.

01 Cometa 1973 (11:05)
02 Cromometrofonia N°1 (11:00)

Total time 22:05
LP released by Discos PAX, Mexico, [1973?]


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