Friday, 30 May, 2008

Terry Fox - ATARAXIA : Works with Sound (1979-1981)

"Sound is a means of communication, a universal language. It enters the healthy ear without impediments of language or prejudice it is perceived by every culture in the same way: via the auditory canal. It enters the ear without consent of the listener. It vibrates the eardrum. It requires no intellectualization. No intelligence is necessary. No common language need be spoken. Illiteracy is irrelevant. Sound pauses as pulses in the air.

Performance is, for me, an attempt to discover a language or method of communication which bypasses these barriers as sound does. The most important aspect of performance is the elimination of media or mediating or condition. The action is performed live and in front of its receiver. It exists only on these terms and in this context and no other: like eating. My work with the labyrinth led increasingly to the almost limit less sculptural possibilities of sound."

—Terry Fox

"In the field of the now quite famous (at least to the more attentive "Blow Up" readers) "Wire Music", the name of Terry Fox is probably less celebrated that the ones of Ellen Fullman or Paul Panhuysen and his rare incisions on vinyl are really hard to find, and a cult object for collectors. But this Seattle artist is a veteran of the genre, and a seminal figure for the performance and sound installation world. For these reasons, this first edition on CD is almost an event! As a true nomad, Fox has lived in various parts of the world, also in Italy (Rome, Bologna, Napoli, Firenze), realizing his installations in various strange places. "suono interno", the first excerpt of this cd, only 2'50'', is taken from three six-hours performances that the artist gave in the former Santa Lucia Church in Bologna, 1979. In the completely empty and abandoned church, two piano wires of the church's lenght were stretched from a point of the big wooden door. The audience was looking at the performance from a single hole in the door. The same door was also working as resonance projecting the sound outside. Also in the other tracks site-specificity is a key element. The almost 25 minutes of "Berlin attic Wire" are a great example of pure sound art, this time the piano wires exploring the resonances of the attic of the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. What seems incredible is the fantastic electronic character of the pieces, also because no electronics at all were used, except the use of a microphone for recording! The exceptional side in Terry Fox's sculptures is in the ability to transfigure sound sources and space, creating an art textured for the moment and the sound space achieved events convey minimal, but with very strong emotions."

in "Blow Up", Italy, July/August 1999.
ATARAXIA - Works with Sound (79/81)

1 Suono Interno (2:50)
2 Rallentando (2:50)
3 Lunar Rambles (9:24)
4 Culvert (9:24) (Featuring - Bill GIlbert , Bootz Hubbard)
5 Berlin Attic Wire, Beating (24:44)
6 Berlin Attic Wire, Bowing (15:07)

link1 | link2@320

Wednesday, 28 May, 2008

John Zorn - New Traditions in East Asian Bar Bands (1997)

1. Hu Die (25:09)
Fred Frith - guitar
Bill Frisell - guitar
Zhang Jinglin - narration
Text - Arto Lindsay
Recorded by Karmer in 1986

2. Hwang Chin-ee (16:41)
Joey Baron - drums
Samm Bennett - drums
Jung Hee Shin - narration
Text - Myung Mi Kim
Recorded by Oz Fritz in 1988

3. Quế Trân (30:46)
Wayne Horvitz - keyboards
Anthony Coleman - keyboards
Ánh Trần - narration
Text - Lyn Hejinian
Recorded by Steve Rosenthal in 1990

Artwork by Kim Su Theiler
Released by Tzadik in 1997


Friday, 23 May, 2008

Hassan Tabar - Dastgâh-e Segâh (1996)

In Iranian classical music, the terms dastgâh and âvâz replace the word maqâm, an arab word normally used to signify a modal system in the musical traditions of the Mediterranean and Caspian regions. The word dastgâh seems to have been employed for the first time in the book of Forsat Shirâzi (1852-1920) ‘’Bohûr ol-Alhân’’. Hûmân Assadi, in his ‘’Aspect of musical life in 19th century Persia’’ opines that the word dastgâh appeared in the middle Séfévides' era (1502-1722) and that it was used with the same sense as maqâm. Farhat states that no document attests the existance of a dastgâh system before Qâjârs' era (1786). We can therefore infer that the idea of a system of dastgâh-s started to take shape at the time of the Séfévides, slowly ripening till it fully emerged during the reign of Nâssereddin Shâh (1848-1896).

The gûsheh (literally angle, corner) is a short melodic sequence of less than three minutes that constitutes an element of the dastgâh and it must always be in the same modal structure of the dastgâh to which it belongs. A dastgâh is thus an ensemble of gûsheh-s that have a modal realtionship between them modal and that are organized according to their degrees of the chosen range; a dastgâh always includes one opening gûsheh (darâmad) based on the first degree, one gûsheh on the highest degree (owj) and one concluding gûsheh (forud).
Hassan Tabar

1. Pish Darâmad (Darvish Khan)
2. Darâmad
3. Chahâr-Mezrâb (F. Payvar)
4. Kereshmeh
5. Pish Darâmad-e Janj (Shanazy)
Chahâr-Mezrâb (Hossein Sabâ)
Pish Daramâd
Chahâr-Mezrâb (Hassan Tabar, extract)
6. Zâbol Jomleh-e Rabti (Zâbol-Bé Mokhâlef)
7. Mokhâlef
Chahâr-Mezrâb (H. Sabâ)
Masnavi-e Mokhâlef
8. Eshefan (Âvaz-Owshâq-Chahâr-Mezrâb)
Forub-e Zarbi
9. Zang-e Shotor (H. Sabâ)
10. Hodi
11. Do-Zarbi-e Segâh

Hassan Tabar - Santoor
Sâber Kâkâvand - Tombâk

Recorded in Tehran, 1994, at Studio Belle
Released by Al-Sur in 1996


Tuesday, 20 May, 2008

Bill Dixon - Son of Sisyphus (1990)

"Bill Dixon's Soul Note exploration is typically thoughtful, introverted and often downbeat. Two duets on piano with bassist Mario Pavone ("Silences For Jack Moore" and "Sumi-E") both put as much emphasis on space as on the sounds. The other pieces find Dixon's tonal distortions on the trumpet often joined by moaning long tones from the tuba of John Buckingham, the competing ideas of Pavone and the often-fiery drums of Laurence Cook. "Schema V1-88" uses a single sound as the basis for the group improvisation while other pieces feature the musicians reacting quite freely to each other. These lyrical explorations move forward without a pulse and, once one gets used to the "style" (or lack of), they reward repeated listenings." by Scott Yanow, in All Music Guide

Bill Dixon - Son of Sisyphus (1990)

1. Silences for Jack Moore 2'18''
2. Vector 1'55''
3. Son of Sisyphus 7'19''
4. Schema VI-88 3'10''
5. Fusama Codex 5'23''
6. Mandala per Mandela 3'50''
7. Sumi-E 2'58''
8. Negoro Codex 4'28''
9. Molti Molti Anni Fa... 7'40''

Bill Dixon - trumpet, piano
John Buckingham - tuba
Mario Pavone - double bass
Laurence Cook - percussion

All compositions by Bill Dixon

Recorded June 28 and 29 of 1988 at Barigozzi Studio, Milano, Italy
© Soul Note 1990


Saturday, 17 May, 2008

Michel Pascal - Puzzle (2000)

Puzzle is the culminating project of a residency done by the group Studio Instrumental at the CIRM. Studio Instrumental is a modular ensemble that explores how today's musical instruments change through their connection with the capabilities offered by new technologies, while empowering the soloist with significant gestural control in the electronic domain. This control remains within the realm of instrumental technique developed by the performer. Therefore, a new type of musician, interpreter, or producer, emerges: one who controls the acoustic and electronic aspects, in real time, within a living concert.

Portraits: Composed mostly in collaboration with the instrumentalist using improvised sound recordings, they form the "genetic card" of the musician and his instrument in a short span of time. Playable in the normal way, these portraits serve as the reference, as instrumental links from the acoustic to the electronic. (...)
Solos: Two sampler solos build an inverted bridge from electroacoustics to the living instrumentalist. A few elements from the sound matter are captured through this medium that allow for the creation of playing modes characteristic of the electronic keyboard in real time. Michel Pascal, CD liner notes.

01 Puzzle 96: Répété
02 Puzzle 96: Portrait Du Trio À Cordes De Paris
03 Puzzle 96: Diffractions
04 Puzzle 96: Portrait De Raymond Boni
05 Puzzle 96: Portrait De Bernard Vitet
06 Puzzle 96: Portrait De Michel Godard
07 Puzzle 96: Vents
08 Puzzle 96: Portrait De Brigitte Sylvestre
09 Portrait De Daniel Kientzy
10 Ram (live solo on sampler, M. Pascal)
11 Portrait De Pierre-Yves Artaud Aux Six Flûtes
12 Centuring (live solo on sampler, M.Pascal)
13 Portrait De Michel Lethiec
14 Puzzle 99: Rondes
15 Puzzle 99: Portrait D'Alexandre Ouzounoff
16 Puzzle 99: Trois Temps
17 Puzzle 99: Portrait De Gérard Frémy

Pierre Yves Artaud: Flutes
Jean Querlier: Oboe
Michel Lethiec: Clarinet
Alexandre Ouzounoff: Bassoon
Daniel Kientzy: Saxophone
Patrice Petitdidier: Horn
Vinko Globokar: Trombone
Bernard Vitet: Trumpet
Michel Godard: Tuba
Pablo Cueco: Zarb
Gérard Frémy: Piano
Elisabeth Chojnacka: Harpsichord
Brigitte Sylvestre: Harp
Raymond Boni: Guitar
Charles Frey: Violin
Michel Michalakakos: Viola
Jean Grout: Cello
Barre Philips: Double Bass

part 1 : part 2 @320

Friday, 16 May, 2008

Bravo Clippings #32

SERIAL NUMBER JOP 2731JJ4. Issued in 1987.

Wednesday, 14 May, 2008

Steve Lacy - Clinkers (1977)

"If anyone ever wonders what the hoopla was in the 1970s about Steve Lacy's solo performances, he or she needs look no further than this album. While it encompasses less than 45 minutes of recording time, and constitutes just half of a live concert (where is the other half?), Lacy is perfectly splendorous, with solos that rival his best on disc. The saxophonist is alone and his playing is terrific, with each piece a mini-masterpiece. "Trickles" opens the set, contrasting Lacy's excellent version of the same tune elsewhere with trombonist Roswell Rudd. "Duck" is an apt title, with the quacks and squawks reminiscent of the animal. "Micro Worlds" focuses on laser-like streams of sound distorted here, twisted there. The perfect intonation, symmetrical melodies, and warped interpretations lead to altered expectations, as Lacy winds his way across terrain uniquely his own. One of the few instrumentalists who can sustain a solo performance for seemingly indefinite periods, the saxophonist's cool and restrained yet radical style is fully displayed without a moment's lapse." ~ Steven Loewy, All Music Guide

Steve Lacy - Clinkers (1977) released in 2000 © Hat Hut Records
Edition of 3000 CD's

1. Trickles 10'05''
2. Duck 7'02''
3. Coastline 7'49''
4. Micro Worlds 7'15''
5. Clinkers 11'59''

total time: 44'10''

Recorded live June 9, 1977 by Hanspeter Ehrsam at Restaurant "Zer alte Schmitti", Basel/ Switzerland.


Monday, 12 May, 2008

David Moss Dense Band - Live in Europe (1988)

1. Two to Three to Tango
2. Re-Shuffle
3. Day to Climb
4. Full Step
5. Glider
6. Neural Sense
7. Song of the Possible
8. Slant Lines
9. Slow Talking
10. Miniscus
11. Swayaway

David Moss: Drums, Vocals
Wayne Horvitz: Dx7 & DX100 Synths, Harmonica
Christian Marclay: Turntables, Records
Jon Rose: 19-String Cello, Violin
Jean Chaine: Bass 

All tracks by Moss & Frith, except #10 (Cora, Moss, Frith), #8 (Moss, Chaine), #9 (Moss) 
Recorded at "Musique Action 87" in Vandoeuvre, France, on May 23, 1987. 
Tracks 10 & 11 do not appear on the vinyl version.
Cover art: "The Entymologist", by Nick Lawrence. 
Released in 1988 by Ear-Rational Records.


Sunday, 11 May, 2008

Bud E. Weyser - Tintin in Thailand (1999)

Tintin in Thailand is a parody of the The Adventures of Tintin books by Hergé, released in 1999. It is written and designed to emulate a volume of the Tintin books, but is the author's own story. It was deemed to have violated copyright laws and thus its publication is illegal.
Tintin in Thailand emulates the style and format of the original Tintin books, with some key differences. With the exception of the cover, the entire volume is in black and white. The characters are imitations of the originals, and are presented as acting out of character, such as by using profane language. Bud E. Weyser is listed as the author, and there is a one page foreword in French.

Copies were printed in Thailand to be distributed in Belgium, where Tintin in Thailand was thought to have been in circulation since December 1999.
Thousands of copies in both French and English were also distributed in Thailand. The quality of the Thai copies was later found to supersede that of the Belgian copies.

In February 2001, the Hergé Foundation heard about Bud E. Weyser's attempts to market Tintin in Thailand as an unknown Tintin book for sale to distributors in Belgium. The Belgian police organized a sting operation, with an officer pretending to be a prospective buyer, and two arrests were made in Tournai. They then arrested the designer in Antwerp. The three confessed to producing more than 1,000 copies for sale in Belgium, and 650 copies were seized. All three suspects were subsequently released.
As of July 2007, copies of Tintin in Thailand could still be found in Bangkok. The Hergé Foundation has continued to take quick action to have copies that are posted online removed." from Wikipedia

Forgers send Tintin to Sleazy Bars of Bangkok

Tintin, the boy reporter of comic strip fame, has been caught up in a new adventure and the Belgian police are not best pleased. About 650 forged copies of "Tintin in Thailand" - a lewd tale of Tintin touring sleazy bars in Bangkok - have been confiscated and at least three people arrested, it emerged yesterday.
In Belgium, where the comic strip character with the quiff is something akin to a national hero, the episode has attracted considerable attention, and has been condemned as inbeing poor taste as well as illegal.

Tintin's Belgian creator, Hergé, dreamed up 24 separate adventures for the roving foreign correspondent and his white fox terrier Snowy, but none involved a trip to Thailand and all were considered suitable for children.
In the unauthorised Tintin in Thailand album, however, Tintin is seen with his friends Captain Haddock and the absent-minded Professor Calculus drinking beer at a lap dancing bar in Bangkok. He has abandoned his schoolboy vocabulary for a more colourful one inappropriate for young children. In another scene that is likely to anger fans of the comic strip, Tintin is pictured in a gay escort bar called "Sexy Boy", where he is propositioned by two male Thai hosts. The album also contains graphic scenes of sodomy involving Snowy and Tintin's Chinese friend Chang.

A police unit which specialises in investigating counterfeiting mounted an elaborate sting operation in which officers posed as potential buyers and chatted with smugglers in the town of Tournai, near the French border, before revealing their true identities.
Two men were arrested, and a third from Antwerp, after they confessed to having produced around 1,000 copies of the unauthorised tome in Thailand for resale in Belgium.
Ironically, unscrupulous Thai forgers decided to copy the copy and produced thousands of fake albums which investigators claim are of superior quality to the Belgian version". (14/2/2001)


Thursday, 8 May, 2008

Iannis Xenakis - Electronic Music (1997)

"This is a collection of compositions from electronic music pioneer and 20th century legend Iannis Xenakis, deceased in the early half of 2001 after a lifetime creating one of the most significant bodies of European art. The great Greek-born Frenchman's extraordinary work covered early electronic music and post-serialist composition, architecture, and mathematics, and his mastery of diverse mediums informed his work in music composition, securing his place as one of the most important composers of avant-garde classical music. Those familiar with Xenakis the architect will know him for his pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair (1970), while instrumental classical musicians will know of his complex and abstract percussion and string works. In electronic music he is known not as the inventor but as the composer who shaped the medium into one of the most progressive and complex mediums of the late 20th century. Hence, New York's Electronic Music Foundation released this compilation of his works dating from the late '50s, when at a Paris studio he produced these artifacts that take the primitive electronics of the time into stunningly sophisticated realms. On hearing this CD in the new millennium, it is hard to believe that these abstractions were not made in the late '90s, judging from their futuristic use of electronic effects. Xenakis' work was always considerably more abrasive than that of his contemporaries, and is comparable only to the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, who was similarly interested in noise and sonic phenomena during the '60s. The works on this CD such as "Polytopes" and "Concrete PH" are concerned with "clouds of sound" where the density is extreme, giving these tape works complex textures that can be examined for hours and at different volumes, presenting effects from curious ambience to engaging and rigorous sound worlds. This archival collection comes highly recommended. It is more than a footnote in the history of electronic music, as many reissues can be; rather, this is a vital document in the shaping of late-20th century music." by Sylvie Harrison, in All Music Guide
Iannis Xenakis is without a doubt one of the major figures in the development of music in the 20th century. In 1957, he joined Pierre Schaeffer and others at the GRM (Groupe de Recherches Musicales) in Paris, and it was there that Xenakis composed his early works for electronic tape.
Xenakis' distinct sound is already apparent in 'Diamorphoses' (1957) which incorporates sounds of distant earthquakes, car crashes, jet engines, and other 'noise-like' sounds. His distinct sound is also apparent in 'Concret PH' (1958), based on the sounds of burning charcoal. 'Concret PH' was played along with Varese' 'Poème Electronique' in 1958 in the Philips Pavilion at the Brussels World's Fair , which Xenakis (also architect, mathematician and engineer) designed. 'Orient-Occident' (1960), commissioned by UNESCO as music for a film by Enrico Fulchignoni, uses the sounds of bowed boxes, bells and metal rods, sounds from the ionosphere, and a speed-altered excerpt from Xenakis' orchestral work 'Pitoprakta' are combined to create a work suggestive of the themes of the film, which tracks the development of civilization. 'Bohor' (1962), was composed mostly with the sounds of Middle Eastern bracelets.

'Hibiki-Hana-Ma' (1970, 'Reverberation - Flower - Interval'), composed for the Osaka World's Fair, was composed with the UPIC system, a graphical input device that Xenakis invented, using recordings of an orchestra, a biwa, and a snare drum. And 'S.709' (1992) is the first of two compositions created with the GENDY-N program at CEMAMu (Centre d'Etudes de Mathematiques et Automatiques Musicales / Center for Studies in Mathematics and Automated Music), Xenakis' research center near Paris.

This music is extraordinary! And the CD is an essential part of history.

Iannis Xenakis / Electronic Music

01 Diamorphoses (1957) 6:53
02 Concret PH (1958) 2:42
03 Orient-Occident (1960) 10:56
04 Bohor (1962) 21:36
05 Hibiki-Hana-Ma (1970) 17:39
06 S.709 (1992) 7:03

total time 67'02''

link1 | link2@320

Tuesday, 6 May, 2008

180 D'Gs to the Future: The Music of Negativland (2007)

This is an absolutely jaw-dropping collection of Negativland songs covered by a 5-or-6 piece a cappella group. Every sample is sung, every um and er is included. And it's mindblowing, even if you're not familiar with Negativland.
Formerly the Singing Minnicks, David and his brothers Chris, Don, Mark, Peter and Dick Minnick started out singing in their church and at neighborhood concerts. In 2001, however, their direction changed when David found a copy of Negativland's LP Points in their pastor, Rev. Al "Sugar" Sweet's trailer. Rev. Sweet helped the group to become what we now know as the 180 Gs. After selling out concerts all over their hometown of Detroit, they went to The Closet studios run by Sophocles Jones and recorded their first singles.

Negativland heard these recordings and contacted the Gs to put out their first full-length record on their own Seeland label.

And remember, every number is 180; every letter is G.

Have the 180 Gs ever attempted a Negativland song that you just couldn't get to work?
David Minnick: Yeah, we had a few of those. We could have gotten them to work (in my opinion) but everyone just got impatient. For example: I had written out a transcription of "Potty Air" from Points, but while recording it, a few of the guys felt too silly reading through 5 minutes of fart noises to continue. I had to scrap it to keep a few of the guys from walking off the project (even though it took me over 100 hours of tedious work to transcribe it accurately)... I HOPE YOU'RE READING THIS DON AND PETER!! IT WOULD HAVE BEEN COOL!!!
There were a few other songs ("Oven Noises", "The Playboy Channel") that we nearly gave up on. Whenever we were close to giving up, we'd remember Dad's last words to us, as he walked out the front door for the last time: "Don't give up." We'd collect ourselves, and get back to work. Dad also told me: "If ya get lost, you might have taken a wrong turn a few miles back. Just walk backwards a few miles and then walk forwards down another path and you might not be lost anymore." I had no idea what he meant by all of that, until we had to scrap our first recording of "Oven Noises" and start over. The final result was much better, but it was painful to just throw away 2 months of work. It took a long time, but we eventually got arrangements that we were satisfied with for the songs we wanted.

Do you find that Negativland songs from a particular era (the earlier, more experimental based stuff versus the more song-based stuff of the later records) work better in an 180 Gs arrangement?
David Minnick: That's really impossible to say because the entire concept of turning Negativland pieces into a cappella vocal arrangements doesn't (or shouldn't) work. Each song on 180 d'Gs to the Future was as difficult as the next. The more experimental, or speech-based pieces demanded that we make up our own melodies/harmonies while still being faithful to the original. In addition, the absence of regular rhythmic patterns in the original pieces meant that we had sing a lot of complicated, irrational rhythms AND not get lost. Our job, however, was to give these pieces a natural, funky "flow". The more song-like pieces demanded that we come up with arrangements that went BEYOND the original so that we weren't just doing straight cover versions. There was really no easy way to do this record and make it hold together.

While doing a bit of research for this interview, I discovered that you can buy Mp3s of the 180 Gs album from Amazon using Pepsi Points -- what do you think about that?
David Minnick: Personally, I think that's just fine. I happen to like Pepsi a lot better than Coke anyway. However, I haven't gotten any Pepsi points yet. I guess it's a good thing I've got the master tapes of the 180 Gs album.

Why is Dick Minnick not pictured on the album sleeve? David Minnick: If we're talking about Dick, I'll have to back into history a little bit: Dick (aside from his incessant theremin playing and his occasional violent temper) was just like the rest of us. We'd sing, we'd play music, we'd joke around, we'd argue from time to time... he was just one of us. Other people had told us that there was something wrong with him (being the 4th Minnick triplet) but we didn't see it.

Read the full interview here.

1. Intro (Everything's Going Fine) (from "Negativland")
2. Christianity Is Stupid (from "Escape From Noise")
3. Helter Stupid (excerpt from "Helter Stupid")
4. Greatest Taste Around (from "Dispepsi")
5. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For (from "U2")
6. Car Bomb (from "Escape From Noise")
7. A Nice Place to Live (from "Points")
8. Seat Bee Sate (from "Negativland")
9. The Playboy Channel (from "Escape From Noise")
10. I Am God (from "Free")
11. Roy Storey Sports Line (from OTE Vol. 4: "Dick Vaughn's Moribund Music of the 70's")
12. Oven Noises (from OTE Vol. 6 - "The Willsaphone Stupid Show")
13. Theme From a Big 10-8 Place (Live) (from "A Big 10-8 Place")

The 180 G's are:
Chris Minnick, Don Minnick, Mark Minnick, Peter Minnick, Dick Minnick, David Minnick
Produced by Leonardo De Vinci Knight & D'Andre Xavier Jones
Engineered by Sophocles Jones
Released by Seeland in 2007.


Monday, 5 May, 2008

Lou Reed - Berlin (1973)

The New York Times, describing Berlin, released in 1973, noted that it was "sometimes called the most depressing album ever made."
Lou Reed refers to it with an understatement that borders on dismissal. “It was just another one of my albums that didn’t sell,” he said dryly at a West Village cafe recently.

But get him talking a little — and a little talk is all one can expect from Lou Reed — and it becomes clear that Berlin, his bleak, Brechtian song cycle from 1973, is a treasured high point in a what has been a lifelong project of pushing at the aesthetic boundaries of rock ’n’ roll.
“It’s a great album,” he said. (He has also called it a masterpiece.) “I admire it. It’s trying to be real, to apply novelists’ ideas and techniques into a rock format.” He mentioned William S. Burroughs, Hubert Selby Jr., Allen Ginsberg and Raymond Chandler as literary models.
“But it sounds so pretentious saying that.” he added. “It just sounds too B.A. in English. Which I have. So there you go.”

Sometimes called the most depressing album ever made, Berlin is the story of Caroline and Jim, a lowlife couple in the title city — she is promiscuous, he beats her, and they both do lots of drugs — and the tragic dissolution of their relationship. The demimonde of drugs and sadomasochism glamorized in songs by the Velvet Underground, Mr. Reed’s visionary 1960s avant-rock band, is shown with miserable consequences, as in “The Bed,” when Caroline commits suicide and Jim remains bitterly numb:

This is the place where she lay her head/When she went to bed at night/And this is the place where she cut her wrists/That odd and fateful night/And I said oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, oh, what a feeling

The album was made at a high point in Mr. Reed’s career. His second solo record, Transformer, produced by David Bowie and released in 1972, had become a glam-rock keystone, and the song “Walk on the Wild Side,” from that album, was a major hit. (It remains his only song to have reached the Top 40.) Looking to continue Mr. Reed’s commercial success, his record label enlisted Mr. Ezrin, who, though only 23, had already made several hit records with Alice Cooper. “The expectation was that I was going to do something very commercial with him,” Mr. Ezrin said from his office in Toronto. “Sort of Alice Cooper-ish, real mainstream. In reality I had become mesmerized by the poetry and by the art of Lou. Maybe I lost sight of my mandate. Honestly I can look back and say I probably didn’t do what I was hired to do.”

Recorded in London with a group of high-profile musicians including Steve Winwood and Jack Bruce, the songs of Berlin are rock filtered through a Brecht-Weill sensibility, with piano at the center of arrangements for band, horns and strings. Songs like “The Bed” and “The Kids” are among the most joyless Mr. Reed has ever recorded, but also some of his most delicate and intense.
The album has a narrative that stretches over 10 songs, and Mr. Reed and Mr. Ezrin had dreams of staging it. “We were bordering on genius with this work,” Mr. Ezrin said. “We were doing things that you’re just not supposed to do with rock music.”

But the album was, as Mr. Reed puts it, “a monumental failure at the time it came out — commercially, critically, you name it.” Reviewers savaged it. A reviewer for Rolling Stone, appalled at its seediness, called it “a disaster”; one critic described the vocals as “like the heat-howl of the dying otter.” (Not all writers were so cruel, though. John Rockwell of The New York Times praised it as “one of the strongest, most original rock records in years,” and Rolling Stone took the unusual step of publishing a rebuttal to its own review, saying that “prettiness has nothing to do with art, nor does good taste, good manners or good morals.”)
Though it stalled at No. 98 on the charts and drifted in and out of print, over time “Berlin” has built a passionate cult audience.

When asked about the circumstances of its creation, Mr. Reed said, “I don’t remember.”

As for the title, Mr. Reed is typically blunt when asked why he chose to set the story in the once-divided city of Berlin instead of, say, New York. “I’d never been there,” he said. “It’s just a metaphor. I like division.” Ben Sisario, NY Times

Lou Reed: vocals, acoustic guitar
Gene Martynec: acoustic guitar, synthesizer
Dick Wagner: electric guitar, background vocals
Steve Hunter: electric guitar
Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone
Randy Brecker: trumpet
Jon Pierson: bass trombone
Bob Ezrin: piano, mellotron
Blue Weaver, Allan Macmillan: piano
Steve Winwood: harmonium, organ
Tony Levin , Jack Bruce: bass
Aynsley Dunbar, B.J. Wilson: drums

1. Berlin
2. Lady Day
3. Men of Good Fortune
4. Caroline Says I
5. How Do You Think It Feels
6. Oh Jim
7. Caroline Says II
8. The Kids
9. The Bed
10. Sad Song


Saturday, 3 May, 2008

Sei Miguel - The Tone Gardens (2006)

"For Chet and Cage” runs the dedication to Sei Miguel’s 1996 album Showtime, a clear indication as to what to expect from this elusive trumpeter/composer, arguably Portuguese New Music’s best kept secret. The fractured lyricism of his pocket trumpet playing certainly owes much to Chet Baker (and to Miles Davis, Don Cherry and Bill Dixon), but the meticulous methods with which Miguel organizes his material, positioning sound in space and silence, reveal his music to be an extension of the tradition of experimental music which Nyman defined as “a field delineated by certain compositional rules”. Indeed, if much recent New Music has chosen to associate itself with architecture – its aesthetic, imagery and vocabulary – the fact that Miguel has entitled his three extended compositions “Gardens” is significant. The dictionary definition of garden as “a fertile, well-cultivated region” applies equally well to Miguel’s music, and the beautiful, rare flowers he plants in it, be they Fala Mariam’s delicate alto trombone, Rafael Toral’s glistening sinewaves and modulated white noise, or César Burago’s delightfully unconventional percussion instruments, which include seed pod rattles and “dead radios”. Miguel’s raking over the boundary lines between foreground and background, macro and micro-form, the abstract and the figurative – is this a study in complex polyrhythm or the evocation of birds and insects? – is as deceptively simple and unfathomably complex as a shaft of sunlight breaking through the leaves. Dan Warburton, The Wire

1. First Garden (17.56)
2. Second Garden (13.40)
3. Third Garden (20.58)

Sei Miguel - pocket trumpet
Fala Mariam - alto trombone
Rafael Toral - computer sinewaves, pocket amp feedback, modulated white noise system
César Burago - small percussion, mainly seeds, fiber, tamborim, metals, dead radios


Thursday, 1 May, 2008

Natasha Barrett - Isostasie (2002)

"Not so long ago, electronic music was the province of those lucky enough to be able to gain access into the squeaky clean labs of IRCAM or similar institutions, where large, impossibly expensive boxes festooned with dials and flashing lights awaited the bidding of the composer. Now that a similar level of wizardry is achievable with just the aid of a laptop, and contemporary electronica made in bedrooms all over the world enjoys cutting edge status, it's tempting to wonder what the point of 'classical' electronic music actually is. Records like this one may be the answer...

A graduate of Jonty Harrison's B.E.A.S.T. project, Natasha Barrett's approach is highly rigorous, borne of compositional rather than improvisational process. Though on paper her methods can seem a little dry, her music is possessed of an overtly sensual and often awesome power that rivals anything else you're likely to hear. Her 'acousmatic' techniques transform field recordings, percussion and voices into restless soundscapes that conjure up strange geographies buffetted by even stranger meteorological phenomena, cosmic forces on a massive scale or hallucinatory rainforests straight out of J.G Ballard.

Barrett's structural precision gives her pieces a strong sense of narrative as well as place. Tiny sonic fictions unravel throughout; footsteps recede over glassy, gong like tones. A door is opened, a cat enters, draws near, purrs and eats from a bowl seemingly placed in your left ear. You're dragged through dense undergrowth packed with insects, or sat in a dripping cave listening to distant machines devouring the landscape. But most of all it's her control of timbre that catches the ear again and again.

At times during the opening "Three Fictions" the immersion factor almost sent me into some deep alpha state, or the abstract sweep of millions of tiny oscillations produced such strange sensations in the small of my back I had to take my headphones off to catch my breath. One of Barrett's interests is in manipulating the listener's perception of time, and it's something she does with consummate ease.

Lush, disturbing and beautiful all at once, Isostasie at once connects with the rich and strange concoctions of classic musique concrete, coupled with a timeless quality lacking in the ephemeral world of contemporary electronica. Stunning."

by Peter Marsh, in BBC experimental review, January 2003

"A former student of Jonty Harrison and Denis Smalley — two important figures of the British electroacoustics school — Natasha Barrett integrates the approach of these two composers into a proposition which recalls both sound ecology and properly abstract composition. Isostasie is full of these poetic, disconcerting environments, impressionistic pictures of various formats, evocative of her country of adoption, Norway. In this CD, one will encounter various meteorological happenings, the midnight sun, Red Snow (a phenomenon due to the growth of algae or diatoms), as well as an ode to the forest, Viva la Selva!. Plenty of illustrations and impressions of the Norwegian landscape, postfaced with an «exploration of spatial musical structure» (The Utility of Space), all fabricated with utmost delicacy by a young composer with an attuned ear, of whom this is the third album already (following two self-produced CDs, Rocks & Wraiths and Chillies & Shells.)"

in electrocd website

Isostasie (empreintes DIGITALes | IMED 0262 | 2002)

Three Fictions (Northern Mix) (2000) 10'34''
1. In the Rain 3'51''
2. Midnight Sun: Midday Moon 3'35''
3. Outside Snow Falls 3'02''

Displaced:Replaced (2001)
4. Fog, light wind 2'46''

5. Red Snow (2001) 15'39''

Displaced : Replaced (2001)

6. Wet and gusty 1'42''

7. Viva la selva (1999) 17'28''

Displaced : Replaced (2001)

8. Gathering wind 2'50''

9. The Utility of Space (2000) 13'25''

10. Industrial Revelations (2001) 11'32''

total duration: 76'41'

link1 | link2@320

(note: track 8 is in the first folder for uploading space optimization)