“How to begin? No beginning... never ending reverberation,” Antoine Beuger writes in the accompanying notes to Leo Svirsky’s River Without Banks. Dedicated to his first piano teacher Irena Orlov, River Without Banks is a mesmerizing, emotional collection of pieces that are simultaneously complex and fluid. Arranged for two pianos with accompaniment from strings, trumpet, and electronics, Svirsky overlays romantic musical gestures to create a lush unfamiliarity. No sooner than each track begins the next moment unfurls beneath it, cascading time and blurring perception of past and present. River Without Banks is less an album of songs than songs of a singular, unlocatable album.
In essence, the sound of the piano comes in two parts: its attack and its decay. The striking of a hammer is followed by the resonance of a string or strings. (Much the same might be said about the vibraphone, as it happens.) This dual quality of sound comes to mind when listening to Moments by New York-based composer Michael Vincent Waller. Performed by pianist R. Andrew Lee and vibraphonist William Winant, Moments − his third album, following Trajectories (Recital, 2017) and The South Shore (XI, 2015) − draws on Western classical music tradition in its most archetypal forms through its use of modal melodies, triadic harmonies and metered rhythms. Yet the emotional heart of the music is not in attack, but resonance. The afterlife of sounds. Those elements that can’t be grasped and placed into easy historical categories. Behind his surface attacks Waller finds hazy, edgeless zones that draw us downwards, into introspection – an “inward gaze.” Waller’s music is often compared to that of Erik Satie, and there is certainly something Satie-like in its concision, its subtle asymmetries and its lack of ornament. But where Satie’s Gnossiennes, Nocturnes and Gymnopédies were blank canvases, deliberately signifying nothing, Waller’s pieces are vessels to be filled. That is partly an effect of titles: Waller’s pieces on this disc are all ‘moments’ of autobiographical poignancy – memorials, birthdays, homecomings; friends, teachers, family members. We are clearly invited to invest certain emotional expectations into these sounds. Liner notes by Tim Rutherford-Johnson and “Blue” Gene Tyranny. Mastered by Denis Blackham for digital and compact disc. Mastered and cut for vinyl by Rashad Becker.
"Trust in Rock" documents the last evening of an epic concert series held at Berkeley’s University Art Museum in November 1976, featuring an all-star ensemble of the Bay Area’s most unclassifiable musicians performing works by Peter Gordon and “Blue” Gene Tyranny. This band, and this concert, played at the nexus of New Music, jam bands, “pattern music,” and punk. Tyranny had quit Iggy Pop’s band in 1973; Gordon had already moved to New York and began playing with Arthur Russell and Rhys Chatham. Tyranny’s direct and profound songs are “concerned with influence, trust, self-reliance, and having to re-do what is true for you;” Gordon’s songs, with lyrics by then-partner Kathy Acker, give the performance a sexual and political edge, complimenting the intensity of his instrumental works. Though some of the works on Trust in Rock also appear on Gordon’s Star Jaws and Tyranny’s Out of the Blue, many others are available here for the first time. At this performance, Gordon, Tyranny, and their band were not afraid to take the time to “listen to the interior state of something,” as Tyranny later put it: they put their trust in rock.
I have always been searching for a way to articulate the intangible area between the recognizable and the unfathomable, a feeling perhaps informed by some long-abandoned experiments with psychedelics. This has been a continued pursuit starting with my tape experiments in the 1970’s until the present, with technological evolution driving new ways of expression.
With the exception of Xé May, which is performed on an Elektron Octatrack, these pieces were constructed for live performance using a laptop computer running programs I have built in the MAX programming language. Okajouki and Xé May were composed in 2011, all the rest are from 2018. The pieces use a technique of time slicing that I first started doing back in the 90's, notably with my piece MOM's, wherein sound files are metaphorically shattered in time like glass and then reorganized into mosaic patterns. The technique used to require laborious preparation outside of real-time before the files could be brought onstage. Now not only can it be done spontaneously while performing, but also with a degree of flexibility that I find quite liberating. They are a lot of fun to play and hopefully to listen. - CS
First-ever LP reissue. “Blue” Gene Tyranny’s debut album Out of the Blue — newly remastered with original cover art — which was among the first to releases on Lovely Music in 1978 alongside Robert Ashley Private Parts, David Behrman On the Other Ocean, Jon Hassell Vernal Equinox, Meredith Monk Key, and Peter Gordon Star Jaws. Disarmingly direct, funky, and profound, Out of the Blue is an equanimous, wide-open exploration of Tyranny’s musical world: equal parts song cycle, tone poem, keyboard fantasia, and avant-garde pop record. Recorded and mixed by Tyranny at Mills College, this album emerged following the legendary 1976 Trust in Rock concerts, where Tyranny and collaborator Peter Gordon presented New Music for rock band. “Next Time Might Be Your Time” and “For David K.” were co-produced by Gordon, and also feature Mills’s Maggi Payne on flute as well as Oingo Boingo’s Steve Bartek on guitar; “Leading a Double Life” is sung by Lynne Morrow and Jane Sharp, accompanied by Tyranny on piano and polyMoog synthesizer; “A Letter from Home” is a half-hour electro-acoustic narrative meditation on “the Doppler effect as a metaphor for the development of consciousness.” Out of the Blue lives up to its name: it is both surprising and familiar, revealing for the first time something that was always already there.
I’d Rather Be Lucky Than Good is a new recording collaboration of
Sam Ashley and Werner Durand. Sam Ashley’s mystic parables
imbued with benevolent humor are drawn from a lifelong pursuit of a
present-day shamanism. Werner Durand’s wind work on invented and
traditional instruments stems from the minimalist tradition, routed
through his own unique studies of obscure world musics.
Laurie Spiegel’s second full-length album, Unseen Worlds, arrived just over ten years after her debut album. Having realized the pieces found on The Expanding Universe (1980) on an instrument no longer available to her, the GROOVE System at Bell Laboratories, Spiegel moved on to composing and developing for the Alles Machine, alphaSyntauri, McLeyvier and various other instruments before creating an instrument entirely her own. Spiegel created “Music Mouse - An Intelligent Instrument” on a Macintosh 512k so that she could have an instrument that was not general purpose but a small, specialized, and well defined musical instrument for and by her that she did not have to compromise on or risk losing access to it. While it was a very personal instrument for Spiegel, demand among friends and colleagues nevertheless grew until “Music Mouse - An Intelligent Instrument” became a commercial product for the Macintosh, Amiga, and Atari personal computers with a devoted popular following that continues to this day, despite the obsoletion of those platforms. At the time of her Unseen Worlds album’s original release in 1991, the issuing record label turned out to be going out of business, dissolved and disappeared, sending the album immediately into obscurity.
The Expanding Universe is the classic 1980 debut album by composer and computer music pioneer Laurie Spiegel. The album is reissued here for the first time in a massively expanded two-CD set, containing all four original album tracks plus an additional 15 tracks from the same period, nearly all previously unreleased. Some of the already well-know works included in this set are "Patchwork", the complete "Appalachian Grove" series, and "Kepler's Harmony of the Worlds", which was included on the golden record launched on board the Voyager spacecraft. The pieces comprising The Expanding Universe combine slowly evolving textures with the emotional richness of intricate counterpoint, harmony, and complex rhythms (John Fahey and J. S. Bach are both cited as major influences in the original cover's notes), all built of electronic sounds.
early & late, performed by Silvia Tarozzi , Deborah Walker, Rhodri Davies, Philip Corner
| October 12, 2018
Extremes are extreme, extremely. For Philip Corner, a lifelong commitment to extremes - extreme expression, extreme beauty, extreme noise, extreme silence - developed a mastery of expression, any one extreme may result in all of the others. In gripping new recordings by the duo of Silvia Tarozzi, violin, and Deborah Walker, cello - with assistance from Rhodri Davies, harp, and Philip Corner, piano - Corner's early ensemble works from 1958 are paired with newer, late works from 2015-2016. The works from 1958, "Two-part monologue" and "FINALE,” were composed while Corner was teaching at City College and still finishing his Masters at Columbia University under Henry Cowell and Otto Luening. Extremes being extreme, they were too extreme for Columbia. Yet, Corner completed his degree and continued to stretch on, creating works somewhere between the supercomputer-refined micro-tunings of James Tenney and the ecstatic enactments of Malcolm Goldstein, his Tone Roads bandmates. Now, with the world (somewhat) caught up, we can appreciate Philip Corner’s EXTREEMIZMS, early and late, together.
American composer Philip Corner likes Satie too well not to object to how he is played. From the time of his participation in the first performance of Satie's "Vexations" he realized that here was, lurking under the travesties of the 1st Gymnopédie, one of the greats of this or any other century... a "secret genius" who masked with humility and seeming conformity a profoundly innovative thorough-going critique of the limitations and pretensions of our High Culture as it has come down to us. A 44 page booklet of commentary and and additional 16 page booklet of graphic analyses set out to demonstrate this - with implication for performance of the works. As the record title "Satie Slowly" shows, the indication "lent" is taken at its full value. An ample selection of piano pieces, spread across 2 CDs, come from his early period, music with great spiritual content.
Electronic Music from the Eighties and Nineties presents the soothing, hallucinatory side of Stone’s slow-evolving, time-bending composition. While we can’t always identify the source, we can hear that his sounds come from somewhere, and that there is a “correct” or “complete” version of them in theory; and so we can hear when they are being changed. What drives Stone’s music is the flow that he draws out of those differences: the way an Indonesian gamelan morphs into a chorus built from one female vocalist over the course of “Mae Yao”’s twenty-three minutes, the surprise emergence of a Mozart chorus out of the synths and skip-glitches of “Sonali,” or the slow, ambient evolution of “Banteay Srey”. “Woo Lae Oak,” issued in a single side edit for the first time, is an exception. Its samples – a tremolo string and a bottle being blown across the top like a flute - are simple in the extreme. Yet the Stone hallmark is clearly present, he locates the inherent emotional properties of the sounds – the tingling anticipation of the string and the calm nobility of the wind – and takes them into unexpected expressive territory.
This 3LP set contains a selection of seven early works by American composer Carl Stone, all previously unpublished except for “Shing Kee,” which appeared on the 1992 New Albion CD release, Mom’s. Notorious, formerly elusive recordings like "Sukothai," "Shibucho," and "Dong Il Jang" exemplify how Stone masterfully guided his art through the transition period when New Music exited the loft scene of the 1970s for a stab at commercial presence in the 1980s, satisfying both impulses by fusing his compositional ambition with systems of live performance that were simultaneously pop savvy, commercial suicide, and technologically and aesthetically forward thinking. His live performance practice, documented here in a carefully restored archival recording of “Kuk Il Kwan” at The Kitchen in 1981, has merged seamlessly with today’s computer-driven methods. The earliest works of this collection, “LIM” and “Chao Praya,” realized on the Buchla 200, date to the early 1970s while Stone was a student of James Tenney and Morton Subotnick at CalArts, a rare glimpse of Stone working with purely electronic source material.
First time available since its original release on the Italian Ri-Fi label, Maria Monti's 1974 LP Il Bestario is a rare item even in its native country. Monti is an Italian singer and actress with a noteworthy career, performing as a cabaret singer in the 60s, an ambitious avant-garde folk artist in the 70s, and starring in films by directors such Sergio Leone (Fistful of Dynamite) and Bernardo Bertolucci (1900) all the while. In addition to lyrics by the infamous poet Aldo Braibanti, Il Bestiario features arrangements and synthesizer from legendary avant-garde composer Alvin Curran, as well as the soprano saxophone of jazz-great Steve Lacy. The music of Il Bestiario is a prime example of "the new art-song" of the 1970s, as Alvin Curran calls it - lush, dynamic and full of intelligence and beauty.
A limited-edition 12” and download featuring an unearthed, late-‘70s collaboration between Laurie Spiegel, ElectroComp 101 synthesizer, and Don Christensen (ImpLOG, The Contortions), drums, on the A-side and an alternate version of Spiegel’s classic The Expanding Universe track “Patchwork” on the B-side.
A new album of piano driven ambient music from British composer Robert Haigh. Following in the path of his albums for the Japanese Siren label, Creatures of the Deep is an underground vantage of a meeting between the musical worlds of Harold Budd and Erik Satie. With a storied musical career that has ranged widely in style — from his industrial-avant-garde works on Nurse With Wound’s United Diaries label as SEMA to his legendary ambient drum and bass records as Omni Trio on Moving Shadow — Robert Haigh's work occupies a space between music and mystery. With Creatures of the Deep, Haigh is at the peak of his powers. Among noir, minimal, neo-classical landscapes are robust scatterings of bright reflection and a musical expression that is subtle and elusive yet uniquely Haigh’s in its voice and masterful execution. The closer we examine, the more is revealed, and the less is defined.
Privately pressed to LP in 1978 under the name J. Jasmine and made especially for the Ann Arbor Film Festival, with artistic collaboration from the festival’s founder and Once Group artist, George Manupelli, My New Music is the debut album by Jacqueline Humbert and David Rosenboom. Featuring a cast of Mills College personalities like David Behrman and Sam Ashley on backup vocal duties, this song cycle is at every turn boundary-pushing and gender-busting, yet still hilarious, sweet, and genuine, all delivered in a post-genre, art-song, cabaret musical style that happens to boast some serious avant-garde chops, courtesy of Rosenboom. If it weren’t so spot on, you’d swear it was a guilty pleasure. As J. Jasmine writes, My New Music is a collection of personal stories and private desires, exposed, articulated, performed and dedicated to the hope that one person's fantasies can contribute to another person's freedom. Get lost in J. Jasmine’s world for a little long while, and be free.
Daytime Viewing (1979-80) is an extended narrative song, based on a casual analysis of daytime television drama and the audience phenomena such programming addresses. The piece explores the use of fantasy as a survival mechanism against loneliness, illustrating the human compulsion to inflate the mundane to mythological proportions. A central female character weaves tales, using threads of personal experience and the idea of TV as friend, as mantra, and as transformational window between imagined spectacle and the pedestrian plane.
FRÜHE JAHRE is the first time reissue of C-Schulz’s early work from late 1980s and early ‘90s. Schulz’s first LP, 10. HOSE HORN, was introduced alongside other debut LPs from Jim O'Rourke and Frank Dommert on Dommert's Entenpfuhl label in 1991. Combining the cathartic sounds of industrial, early techno, and innovative pop with inspiration from acousmatic, New Music, and Dada, Schulz’s music is a prime example of the Cologne experimental music scene of the time. Rhythmic delights, outlandish juxtapositions and a sustained, unresolved, aurally-fascinating tension evoke dramatic, film-like meditations. Liner notes written by Marcus Schmickler, who also co-produced many of the tracks. Remastering by Rashad Becker.
Unseen Worlds presents new recordings of solo piano pieces by Ethiopian composer Girma Yifrashewa, the first release of Yifrashewa's music outside of Africa. Born in Addis Ababa in 1967, Girma Yifrashewa is a worthy new torchbearer of African pianism. His highly personalized approach to the piano likens him to Ethiopian composer Emahoy Tsege Mariam, while his use of Ethiopian pentatonic scale within the Western Art Music format places his compositions in conversation with more academically minded work. Traditionally Ethiopian in melody, cinematic in vision, and deep in beauty, his compositions occupy a lyrical middle ground between classical and jazz that is supremely listenable yet defies easy classification.
Comprised of three balanced examples of his Continuous Music on solo piano, Three Solo Pieces serves as perhaps the best introduction the Ukrainian-Canadian composer Lubomyr Melnyk yet available. “Marginal Invitation” is a subdued work with a deeply rooted melodic sensibility that is rich in overtones, while “Corrosions on the Surface of Life” exhibits a dissonant fury of patterned note play. The final, side-length meditation “Cloud Passade No. 3” is a chordal work in free-time which functions equally well as furniture music and a meditative exploration of pure light.
Detours is “Blue” Gene Tyranny’s first album of new piano works since 2003’s Take Your Time. A beautifully recorded collection of tracks composed between 2004 and 2010, Detours belongs to a rarefied class of supremely listenable and beautiful piano albums that are not encumbered by any new-age shabbiness. It possesses the sort of timeless and elegant romanticism so unpretentious and accomplished it seems to at once effortlessly canonize itself.
First ever reissue of this little known classic from founding Philip Glass Ensemble member Richard “Dickie” Landry. Following two jazz LPs issued on the Chatham Square label (which he co-ran), Dickie Landry released Fifteen Saxophones, a set of 1974 recordings done with engineer Kurt Munkacsi, on the Northern Lights and Wergo labels in 1977. Fifteen Saxophones simultaneously demonstrates Landry’s boundary-pushing saxophone and his understanding of the minimalists’ long-form treatises on sound. Using intricate Revox tape delays, Landry’s strong personality as a player shines through a brilliant wall of sound. It is unsurprising Landry was a fixture in the same New York scene that spawned artists like Richard Serra – something equally monumental exists in the pieces found on this album.
A 2CD collection of piano works by postminimalist composer Elodie Lauten - most of which is available for the first time ever on CD. The albums Piano Works (1983) and Concerto for Piano and Orchestral Memory (1984), both reissued here in their entirety with remastered sound, incorporate found and prerecorded sounds into lyrical, minimalist piano works in a highly personal, even baroque, style. They are deeply meditative and expansive but do not require the epic lengths enjoyed by Glass, Reich, Riley. Contemporary luminaries Arthur Russell and Peter Zummo contribute to the Concerto. Also included in this set is Lauten's performance of her later masterpiece Variations on the Orange Cycle (1991) and other previously unreleased tracks.
CD debut of this 1985 post-minimal landmark by Elodie Lauten, featuring performances by Arthur Russell and Peter Zummo. Lauten has been active in the downtown New York classical and punk scenes since moving from France in the 1970s. The Death of Don Juan is a breakthrough for its bold, lyrical minimalism in concert with a dramatic sensibility that is deeply faithful to the modern existential emotional experience. Originally self-produced and released as a small LP edition on her own label, it has been touted ever since by Kyle Gann, who adds notes to this edition, and was recently included on one of Alan Licht's Minimal Top Ten lists.
First ever CD issue of Carl Stone's debut album work, originally issued on Joan La Barbara's Wizard Records in 1983. Woo Lae Oak is a 54 minute tape piece based around minimal samples of strings and wind which layer, deconstruct and reform into an expansive, shimmering whole. Remastered for CD, with original artwork and new accompanying notes by Phill Niblock.
Lubomyr Melnyk's debut album from 1979, KMH, is an unheralded touchstone of minimalism. Performing solo on piano with a speed that suggests multiple pianos playing together in harmony, Melnyk nearly brings out the full sound of the instrument all at once. His music is lush and maximal yet it possesses the restrained, slowly evolving nature found in music by artists like Steve Reich and Terry Riley. Melnyk developed his unique approach to minimalism while working with dancer/choreographer Carolyn Carlson (who also worked with Igor Wakhevitch) in Paris during the 1970's. Carlson's influence led Melnyk to create music that is dramatic enough for the stage yet meditative enough for deep listening, a version of minimalism with the engimatic traces of Satie.