Monday, December 8, 2014

three lovely records

Robert Ashley
In my quest to check out and listen to every cool LP in the LSU library before my contract dries up in May, I filled my brain with three lovely records from Lovely Music.

From their website:

Founded in 1978, Lovely Music is one of the longest-lived and most distinctive independent labels active in the recording and promotion of new American music. According to label founder Mimi Johnson, the label is “dedicated to releasing the best in avant-garde and experimental music, from electronics and computer music to new opera and extended vocal techniques.” Placing emphasis on the artist’s intent, Lovely Music recordings are always composer-supervised and produced.

  1. William Duckworth  - The Time Curve Preludes

    This is a powerhouse of minimalist piano (the repetitive kind), riffs and swells of notes that curl into the air like tulips taking their steps to the sun.

    The beauty of this work is that it has all the rigor and transcendence one wants  (if you are one that wants such things) but is also infused with humor. The above Prelude XXII has in it the DNA of "The Entertainer" as it does the connection tones of 1970s era phone trunk systems.

    Album at Lovely Music
  2. Alvin Lucier - Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas

    Alvin Lucier is maybe the truest of the experimental composers - his pieces could be performed in a physics lab, yet in some like his landmark I Am Sitting in a Room (a repeated text run through recordings of recordings of itself, gaining reverb of the room each time, to eliminate Lucier's stutter) and Silver Streetcar For The Orchestra (a persistently tinged triangle) there is a humor, albeit desert dry.

    Performed by Nick Hennies of the super cool Austin band Weird Weeds.

    In Still and Moving Lines of Silence in Families of Hyperbolas, one may find merriment in the absurdist persistence of these works - largely about two tones extremely close in pitch - but more likely, annoyance that, if allowed, can transform into enlightenment. If you can swing that move, you have life covered.

    I once had an idea to write a book about phenomena as art, and emailed Alvin Lucier to ask to interview him for a chapter about his music. He responded:

    Dear Alex, I have lost interest in being interviewed for books and articles. It seems to me that you could study my work and write something more interesting that I could relay to you. You should do the work. I never say anything that seems complete and true. Cordially, Alvin Lucier

    Album at Lovely Music
  3. Robert Ashley - Private Parts (The Yard/The Backyard)

    This album is astounding. Robert Ashley's deal is about the spoken voice, almost informal music and the ordinary in our lives, and how when concentrated, they become something extraordinary. A friend of mine studied with him and said his music is "boring, but in a really good way" which has stuck with me forever.

    Robert Ashley, The Backyard

    Im on my third listen to this piece, with its guileless tablas, the digestive melodrama of the organ and ol' Robert droning on about how

    $14.28 is more attractive than fourteen dollars. It's just that way.

    Ashley's hypnotic voice feels magically profound. I want to walk around with those tablas going, narrating everything I see. Had Ashley lived, he could have made an app that just had simple music and his voice describing everything the phone camera sees. I might never turn such a thing off.

    Album at Lovely Music

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