Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Gen Ken Montgomery - Live at Auricular Records

September 29, 1991
Auricular Records
San Francisco, CA

A fantastic live in-store performance by Gen Ken Montgomery at Auricular Records.

Unlike most artists in his field, Montgomery doesn't come from art school circles (be them musical or visual). Untrained, he came to music from enthusiasm. He arrived in New York City in 1978 and soon got involved in the mail art and cassette underground scene, exchanging sound collage tapes with like-minded experimenters around the world.

Considered a pioneer of independent noise/concrete music within the cassette culture, Gen Ken was also founder of the Generator Sound Art Gallery, NYC, (1989-1992) and Generator Sound Art Inc. Possibly one of the nicest fellows in the noise/experimental scene at the time and worked hard to expose his fellow artists as best he could to the world of mail-art, DIY releases, live experimental music and good old noise.

From Francois Couture in All Music Guide:

"In 1989, Montgomery opened the first sound art gallery in New York City, Generator, where he exhibited mail art from his penpals and attempted to stimulate local awareness to the cassette movement. The experience was short-lived, but gave birth to other projects such as the co-founding of the labels Pogus Productions (with Al Margolis) and Generator Sound Art Inc. (with Scott Konzelmann, aka Chop Shop). Meanwhile his art began to attract some international attention, leading to the release of LPs on small German and Spanish labels in the late ‘80s, and more self-produced vinyl and CD artifacts in the ‘90s, including the 7" The Sound of Lamination (1994) which documents Montgomery's work with a laminator, a conceptual sound/installation/interactive project he presented throughout the decade. In 1995 he was even appointed Minister of Lamination by the Kingdoms of Elgaland-Vargaland, Leif Elggren and Carl Michael von Hausswolff's utopian virtual nation-cum-conceptual art project.

With the rise of sound art in academic circles at the end of the ‘90s, Montgomery began to work more, curating exhibitions and enjoying artists residencies (including one in 1999 at the Spritzenhaus in Hamburg, Germany). The release of Pondfloorsample in 2002 constitutes an encouraging step in the slow recognition of his unique work."

Listen now

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Merzbow - Live at Kaleidoscope Records

September 5, 1990 Kaleidoscope Records (aka Auricular Records) San Francisco, CA

In 1990, Masami Akita and Reiko A. graced the United States with a tour of performances of their singularly unique noise. For many this was the first chance to see Merzbow live and the first chance to be engulfed in the absolute ocean of sound that is a Merzbow performance. There is no Merzbow recording ever produced that can even come close to what the live experience is. Listening back to the live performances on recordings can not even capture the pure sonic ether that Masami and Reiko were capable of producing in most any environment. During their stop in Nortehrn California, Merzbow performed on several radio stations, in a Santa Cruz warehouse space, and a multi night stint at the Armpit Gallery in San Francisco with Haters and Big City Orchestra (those shows will be forthcoming). This particular recording comes from Kaeleidoscope Records in San Francisco. Masami and Reiko performed approximately 30 mins as a preview to what could be expected at the upcoming local shows.

enjoy a little noise soup from Merzbow

Friday, June 5, 2009

Daevid Allen Live at Auricular Records

Daevid Allen: Spoken Word
Live at Auricular Records - Aug 1, 1991
San Francisco, CA

There is no one quite like Daevid Allen (Gong, Soft Machine, Magick Brother etc etc) and there is certainly nothing like spending an afternoon, or evening, with the man. He is one of those people of an indescribably personality - a king amongst pixies and a pixie amongst men. When Daevid came through San Francisco in 1991, I not only got to meet a life long hero of prog rock and possibilities, I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with him; at live shows, in the studio recording and of course in our record store, Auricular Records. I played chauffer to Daevid and Magick Brother for about 2 weeks and it is a time I will not soon forget. While he was in town I had to have him do an instore - unfortunately, we could not coordinate a performance of Magick Brother - although I snuck Mark Robson away from Daevid long enough to perform with Nux Vomica. Daevid showed up in the store with his friend Tom the Poet and armed with just a single microphone kept a store full of us entertained with his wit, glee, songs and stories for an entire afternoon. This recording is a small portion of the antics of the day caught on tape.

enjoy Daevid Allen live at Auricular Records

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Ophelias - The Ophelias

Strange Weekend Records

Thinking back to 1987 boggles the mind sometimes, however, pouring over the collection of vinyl the other day I pulled this from the shelf and a lot of that time period came rushing back.

The Ophelias were a San Francisco based band led by multi-instrumentalist and singer Leslie Medford. Pulling influences from all over the place, with a special nod to prog rock and the works of Peter Hammill, The Ophelias were one of the more refreshing and original bands around the San Francisco Bay Area at the time.

This LP features their first released material and what was often the foundation of many a live show. The self-titled LP was self produced by the band. I got my copy from Leslie himself as, at the time, we both were working at the same record store in Berkeley. This was one of the few co-worker bands I stood behind ever - attended numerous shows and really really liked.

Fortunately enough The Ophelias were signed to Rough Trade (where I then worked) and a small handful of other albums and some of the fancy new Compact Disc thingies, with better production (and some still readily available) were released. The Ophelias followed me through a large portion of my early years in California and I still appreciate and enjoy their music some 20+ years later and realize there are not many bands out there that did or could do what they did. Amazingly enough they produced a video that appeared on MTV's 120 minutes - a cover for Moby Grape's Lawrence of Euphoria. While not indicative of their talents or style this was still a great treat at the time.

Although there were several line-up changes, including David Immergluck of the Monks of Doom and the Counting Crows and New Zealand's Keith Dion (Producer, band leader for Noel Redding from The Jimi Hendrix Experience 1997-99 and Producer for Arthur Lee and Love's release "Electrically Speaking"), this represents the stew that started it all. The band was ranked as one of the best local SF groups in their day and shared a unique time period where the San Francico sound had been reborn and offered a unique and varied listen. I still love this album and I long to hear it one day remastered - who knows - stranger things have happened!

have a listen to The Ophelias

Friday, February 6, 2009

Iancu Dumitrescu

Alternances Bas-reliefs Apogeum Reliefs

Electracord ST-CS 0191

Bucharest, Romania

Avant-garde composer Iancu Dumitrescu was born July 15, 1944 in Sibiu, Romania.

Dumitrescu studied composition in Bucharest under Alfred Mendelssohn. He studied conducting and philosophy with Sergiu Celibidache who led Dumitrescu who gave him generous lessons in the principles of phenomenology.

He began composing his mature works in the early 1970's. In 1976 he founded the Hyperion Ensemble, which he describes as "a multimedia group dedicated to experimental music."

Dumitrescu has composed a large body of works for acoustic instruments and ensembles as well as works combining acoustic and electronic sounds and works composed entirely using tape or computer.

Dumitrescu describes his music as "acousmatic" but disclaims a relationship with the Acoustmatic Music of French musique concrete pioneer Pierre Schaeffer. His comositions are based on the acousmatic aesthetics by virtue of whichthe sound is subjected to analyses and dissociations (harmonic multisons - diagonal sounds) which confer it a genuine force of suggestion and penetration. He accepts the "spectralist" label, though he distinguishes his work from some others in the spectral school in that it is not serial. Dumitrescu has been quoted as saying, "I think of myself as a spectralist, but in completely different way from the French."

Dumitrescu is married to fellow composer Ana-Maria Avram (born 1961); they have more than 20 joint CD releases on their Edition Modern label. Recordings of Dumitrescu's works have also been released by Edition RZ, ReR Megacorp, Generations Unlimited, and other record labels.

The following recordings were composed between 1967 and 1972. Vinyl noise from the original Romanian LP release has not been removed so as not to compromise some of the more subtle sounds in the compositions which could have been lost in doing so.

listen to Iancu Dumitrescu

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

New Music: The Alternative 10 - Volume II, 1984

Various Artists: Art of Noise, Romeo Void, Hoodoo Gurus, Robert Gorl, Split Enz, Jimmy and the Suspects

Radio Free America

Marilyn Pittman's radio television career span over two decades. From rock jock in Albuquerque to work as talk show host, stand-up comic, and commentator in San Francisco she is a versatile and dynamic media personality.

Marilyn didn't want to be a waitress at the age of 40, so she got into radio and spent four years in classic rock and pop radio. In 1980 and '81, she was a radio and television news anchor but decided she would pursue comedy instead.

Due to the lack of comedic outlets in Albuquerque she reinvented herself as an independent radio producer and created Radio Free America's "New Music: The Alternative Ten", a half-hour mix of new wave music and interviews nationally syndicated on over 300 college station in 1983-'84.

This particular episode Volume II, 1984 featured Music by the Split Enz, Hoodoo Gurus, Robert Gorl, Jimmy and the Suspects and a few special treats as well. Deborah Iyall, singer and lyricist for Romeo Void chats with Marilyn Pittman about the then new "Instincts" LP and how it came to be.

Also included in the show is a unique "collage" of the Art of Noise's LP "Who's Afraid of the Art of Noise" and Producer John Riegler's experimental sound adventures through the Jungle's of El Dorado.

All of this is brought to you courtesy of the new (in 1984) Today Contraceptive Sponge!

have a listen to "New Music: The Alternative 10 - Volume II, 1984"

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Peyote Healing Chants of the Native American Church

As Sung By Ralph Turtle
1972 Canyon Records C-6094

Phoenix, AZ

From the jacket notes by Robert Nuss:

"Peyote chants are generally uniform from one tribe to another which make them unique in American Indian Music. They are also unlike any of the traditional songs of the Plains Indians where the native American Church developed. The high degree of tension, breaks, quavers, and accents typical of Plains music are absent. They are sung in quiet unstressed style similar to the tribes of the Sonoran Desert and parts of Mexico. The drum and rattle are played at a constant tempo and beat in eigth notes top give the impression of a rapid tempo. A majority of peyote chants are sung within a range of a fifth to an octave and as with most Indian music have a descending melodic pattern. A phrase is usually composed of several small downward intervals occurring between phrases. There are a few variations which are due to some tribal differences in musical style during the early formative years of the peyote ritual in the 1870's and 1880's.

In 1918 several independent tribal churches joined together to form the Native American Church, a formal non-profit corporation for the purpose of presenting a strong united front to meet the hostility of the outside world. Several states were attempting to outlaw the use and possession of peyote through formal lawmaking. The organized Native American Church was better able to lead the way for the smaller local groups in court cases over the legality of the use of peyote in prayer meetings. The Church's arguments are based on constitutional guarantees of freedom of religion and on differences of opinion between Church and states on the effects of peyote as it is used in prayer meetings."

listen to Peyote Healing Chants

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Strafe für Rebellion: Vögel

1989 Touch Music
London, England

Germany has always handed us a myriad of remarkable, unique and unexplainable musicians throughout the years. Prog, electronic, space rock, techno, punk, industrial - none of these genres would be complete without a chapter in their book about how this German band or that German band perfected the genre and left the playing field an impossible-to-navigate minefield for all others who tried to attempt it. This seems to apply right down to albino pop music (but I will save Heino for another day).

To be the best of a genre is one thing, but to actually manage to rise above multiple genres, sound itself, philosophy and ideology and strike your place as masterful sound artists and manipulators of field recordings in a truly post-Cageian fashion, yet not dull your accessibility with academia, is a beautiful achievement. Strafe für Rebellion has stood out for the better part of 25 years in their sound accomplishments. With their ability to paint entrancing landscapes of sound from bits of wire and foam and birds and trains and squeaky wheels, the engulf a listener in a world, or universe unlike any we are used to, in which every step through it carries a small bit of joy, fear, trepidation, chaos, and infinite beauty.

Strafe für Rebellion's 1989 compilation Vögel contains pieces dating back almost ten years into the ensembles past. The duo of Bernd Kastner and Siegfried M. Syniuga have existed since 1979. Over the course of several albums, they have developed a style of abstract instrumental music that owes a lot to their use of home-made instruments, found objects and field recordings. In the 1993 interview with Brian Duguid, they described their musical techniques as follows:

"As you probably know we do not use any electronic music instruments. We do not condemn electronic music instruments at all, it is just not our approach. One central aspect of our work is the use of field recordings, either wild or domesticated animals, machines and all kinds of noises that we think are peculiar in some way. We go searching for sounds during trips, we occasionally find them or we consciously go looking for special sounds (visiting a zoo, for example). When we do field recordings already some compositional elements come into being - they go beyond the pure documentary sounds and beyond the quality of our normal archive. We also use 'normal' music instruments and 'prepare' them, there are also self-made music instruments or noise machines. But we never use anyone else's pre-recorded sounds; we have never used samplers nor rhythm machines."

Oddly enough this particular compilation contains cover versions of Patsy Cline's "Crazy" and "Walking After Midnight" as well as Leonard Cohen's "Sister's of Mercy". At first these covers are indiscernable, however, they slowly unfold into what may be the most unique interpretations of any pre-existing song ever attempted.

Enjoy listening to Vögel

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

HWYL: The Intimate Texture of Sound

Various Artists

1987 HWYL Records

While sometimes bordering on new-agey, don't let this release fool you. This compilation of atmospheric music released by Steve Parry in 1987, is best described by his liner notes:

"For many years I have been interested in the concept of atmospheric music. HWYL has been created to promote and release original music from a musical idiom employing classical, primitive, jazz, folk, minimalism, instrumental modern to future forms of music. Music conceived through emotion to evoke emotion. As are the creative and compositional boundaries of this music limitless then so are the listeners interpretation of them.

Sound is ever present, at times we are simply unaware of its being. Silence has characteristic qualities unto its own.

This music encompasses both sound and silence. Music to create or enhance an atmosphere. Perceive then this sound as your own."

Steve Parry, Director HWYL York 1987

1.Side A Trevor Stainsby , Richard Hall Desert Sunrise (1:22)
2.Side A Gilbert Isbin When It's Over (3:37)
3.Side A Steve Jadd* Solitary Lands (4:46)
4.Side A Gary Caulfield Sanctuary (3:35)
5.Side A Dafydd Pierce Wood Nymphs (Tylwyth Teg) (2:29)
6.Side A Trevor Stainsby Full Moon Over Still Waters (4:11)
7.Side A Gramophone Society, The Patagonia (3:18)
1.Side B Martin Coles Heaven's Gate (3:56)
2.Side B Max Inca Dreaming In The Azure Forest (4:01)
3.Side B Tranceport Chrona (3:24)
4.Side B Kevin O'Neill Intimations Of Immortality (4:07)
5 Side B Jenny Curtis Dolphin (4:48)
6.Side B Myth Gestalt Surrounded By Shadows (4:16)

take a listen to HWYL