Wednesday, July 27, 2016

KAORU ABE – Mort À Crédit (2LP-1976- ALM Records-AL-8/AL-9)

Label: ALM Records – AL-8 / AL-9
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Japan / Released: 1976
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Subtitled "Saxophone Solo Improvisations" / Gatefold sleeve
A-1, B-2 recorded live at Aoyama Tower Hall, October 18, 1975.
B-1 and C-1 to D-2 recorded at Iruma Shimin Kaikan, October 16, 1975.
Design [Designed By] – Nobukage Torii
Photography By [Photo] – Masahiro Imai
Includes liner notes in Japanese by Aquirax Aida
Producer – Aquirax Aida, Hangesha, Yukio Kojima
Recorded By – Yukio Kojima

A  -  Alto Improvisation No.1 ............................................................... 26:00
B1 - Alto Improvisation No.2 .............................................................. 11:20
B2 - Alto Improvisation No.3 .............................................................. 12:30
A1 - Sopranino Improvisation No.1 ...................................................... 6:17
A2 - Alto Improvisation No.4 Part 1 ................................................... 20:14
B1 - Alto Improvisation No.4 Part 2 ................................................... 18:50
B2 - Sopranino Improvisation No.2 ...................................................... 7:00

KAORU ABE – alto saxophone, sopranino saxophone

After the Partitas double album (recorded 1973, released 1981), Mort À Credit was to become the last Abe album to be released in his lifetime.

Mort À Credit was the title given to Céline's novel Death On The Installment Plan, not a coincidence and an analogy that makes at least a little bit of sense - Abe was reportedly a major Céline fan, and his solo disks on PSF have Japanese translations of Céline text attached to the songtitles in the CD inserts. It consists of two alto improvs from a show on October 18, 1975, and five more (three on alto, two on sopranino) from another performance a couple of days earlier. Released by Kojima on 2LP in 1976 (the reissue does not appear to contain any unreleased material), it can be said to mark a significant change in Abe's style. Abe is here a little soften from his usual urgency - this can perhaps be in part attributed to the passage of time - and become more interested in spacing and the exact rhythms of phrasing. While never entirely ignorant of these concerns, by now they had come very much to the fore, as is illustrated by the two recordings from the earlier show here, in which roughly cut-off notes are spaced so regularly that their rhythms are like watching a slowed-down strobelight. With run after run of harsh, crude and almost bawdy staccato honking, Abe speedily races through the octaves in ascending and descending anti-order cadence. He breaks regularly into very shrill squeaks and squeals (and the occasional bold wail-melody) and references non-existent simplistic and just about jokey tunes. The eventuall effect is like having someone tapdance on stilletoes on your temple. Some passages are about 50% clearer than others, and at more than one point the fidelity swings sharply, moving from distant, muffled high-pitch screeching tones to furoious forehead-centre blowing gusts in virtual machine-gun arc.

Of the three alto tracks from the October 16 performance, the first is the most impressive. Again beginning with twisting, dancing note clusters that somersault forth from the speakers, Abe soon moves into the increasingly familiar technique of aching, wrenching bursts of heavy shrieking alto, separated by stopwatched periods of silence. Dwelling almost exclusively in the upper register, Abe sets upon the sounds lying within a limited tonal range and squeezes hard, eking an incredibly broad range of textures from an ostensibly small palette. He continues to work thus in the following two pieces, nodding throughout to the temperately expressionistic style he would employ so effectively on the Nord duo with Yoshizawa, and further impressing the change that had by now come about in his playing. Though at this point still slightly unfocused in parts, these recordings offer a significant development of his earlier playing that's simultaneously evolved and honed down/devolved, and are crucial from a historical perspective, showing Abe to be almost out on his own at this point (and also helping to contextualise the efforts of present-day practitioners like Masayoshi Urabe and Tamio Shiraishi). The two sopranino cuts hint at more history to be dug up, like Abe's pieces on bass clarinet showing him to adapt to the instrument rather than forcing the instrument to adapt to him. The first in particular (though at the time of the show possibly intended as introductory in nature) sends lovely, moving and sustained melodies flowering forth, one after another; the second ups the pace, with Abe improvising in light, feathery strokes - a painfully abbreviated look at another potential big gun in Abe's arsenal, the only other available glimpse being the Graves record, and who knows how often Abe actually employed the instrument in the live setting.

Mort À Credit shows Abe in a fascinating period of transition, moving forth to something complexly and identifiably new, yet intransigently rooted in what had come before. Alan Cummings reports that the general consensus in circles there within which Abe's work is known and appreciated is that he was at his best ca. 1970-1973/74, a view I don't think I could ever really significantly disagree with. But for me the period summarised by Mort À Credit is also highly salient. While his earlier recordings focused on energy and an almost self-conscious encompassing of the saxophone's entire range and sonic potential (like some deliberately comprehensive inventory of Sounds You Can Make With An Alto), the material here shows Abe audaciously experimenting with a smaller range of sounds - those inherent in the instrument's upper limits - and pushing them further, narrowing his scope and coming up with improvisations which, in what they attempt to achieve, are arguably even further 'out'.
(– Review by Nick)

If you find it, buy this album!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

FAUST – Faust (LP-1971)

Label: Polydor – 2310 142
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Translucent / Country: UK / Released: 1971
Style: Krautrock, Art Rock, Avantgarde, Experimental
Side A studio recordings
Side B recorded live at Wümme, September 21, 1971.
Composed By – Faust
Engineer – Andy Hertel, Kurt Graupner
Producer – Uwe Nettelbeck
Special radiography cover
Made In Germany [on record labels]
Printed in England [on cover]
A Product of Sound Packaging Partnership UK & World Patents Pending.
Incorrect track durations given on this release are:
Side A: 18:32 / Side B: 17:55

A1 - Why Don't You Eat Carrots ................................................. 9:31
A2 - Meadow Meal ..................................................................... 8:02
B - Miss Fortune ....................................................................... 16:34

Hans Joachim Irmler – organ
Rudolf Sosna – guitar
Gunther Wüsthoff - synthesizer, wind
Jean-Hervé Péron – bass, guitar, trumpet, vocals
Arnulf Meifert – drums, percussion
Werner Diermaier – drums, percussion, conductor

"Faust" is the debut full-length studio album by German Krautrock/psychadelic/avant garde rock act Faust. The album was released through Polydor Records in late 1971. The members of Faust were brought together by leftist-journalist Uwe Nettelbeck (who alledgedly was also associated with the infamous Baader-Meinhof movement), who had been asked by Polydor Records to find a German band, who could rival some of the contemporary commercially successful British artists (needless to say they were not impressed by the outcome). The label provided the band and Uwe Nettelbeck (who acted as producer on the recording project) with enough money and time, for the band to spend most of 1971 writing and recording the album.

Faust's first album is one of the most psychedelic and experimental albums ever released, the sounds this band creates are not of this world! Faust sufficiently blends groundbreaking electronic effects and 60's psychedelia into one insane combination. The album packaging was just as weird as the music, the vinyl being clear and a sleeve with an x-ray hand on it. Many bands were experimenting with electronic sounds at the time, but Faust took it farther than anyone else, elevating the traditional psych/hippie-folk song to insane new levels.

As an album "Faust" usually has the reputation that it´s a very difficult and avant garde listening experience, and while that is certainly true to some extent, the sometimes crazy sounding experiments actually work well together and the music isn´t completely devoid of hooks either. The album for instance features several great psychadelic rock parts and to make a comparison I don´t find the music on this album much more inaccessible than the most experimental output by 60s Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention.

In addition to the more "regular" rock parts on the album, the music on "Faust" features lots of studio tricks like tape manipulations and experiments with electronic devices. The vocals on the album which are in English are rather unique. Sometimes almost chanting and other times reciting the lyrics. It sounds like complete madness at times but it´s ultimately very charming, only features 3 tracks: "Why don't you eat carrots", "Meadow Meal" and "Miss Fortune". The two former were featured on side 1 of the original LP and the latter was featured on side 2. The album is very short with it´s 31:24 minutes playing time but with music as extreme as this I think it´s a suitable length.

The sound production is hands down fantastic. All those sounds collages and tape tricks must have been a real challenge handling in the studio and keeping in mind that the album was recorded in 3 days, there is a time pressure factor here too that makes it an even more incredible achivement. The spontaneity and laid back approach to the recording process that these musicians had could have resulted in a terribly bad and sloppy end product, but as Faust were incredibly talented musicians, they could pull something as bold as this off with conviction. They also fully understood that avant garde rock has to have some degree of accessibility and some memorable parts to be entertaining to the listener and therefore this weird experiment works wonders.

Faust is arguably. arguably?. evidently and unabashedly!!. the most extravagant and multicolored band in the krautrock movement. But after the initial hesitation, cannot but admit publicly that their best recordings are essential in any good prog collection. This is, precisely, the case of their amazing debut album, which serves, most of all, as a manifesto of distorted hard rock, uncompromising psychedelia, radical pastiche, Dadaist humor and electronic avant-garde in a very cohesive progressive amalgam. The fact is that this musical offering preserves its inner myriad of sonic contrasts in a unitary whole. While not having the finesse of Can's musicians nor portraying the raw energy of ART or Guru Guru, the truth is that Sosna, Irmler, Wüsthoff, Peron & Diermaier together make up a very tight ensemble. Each one of the three pieces in the album's repertoire comprises an open field for diversity - two of them are 8+ minute long and the other, 16+. 'Why Don't You Eat Carrots?' starts with brutal slide guitar layers upon which samplers of The Rolling Stones' 'satisfaction' and The Beatles' 'All You Need is Love' appear; then, a semi- chamber grand piano section is accompanied by the sound of an angry man giving orders in an almost sick crazy way - go figure! The two main motifs that follow combine the dexterity of jazz-rock and the peculiar joy of circus fanfare, both of them seasoned by Zappaesque vocalizations and more slide guitar effects. I don't know how they managed to do it, but they did: this is an opus of musical aggression that bears no sign nor clear evidence of sheer aggressiveness. 'Meadow Meal' has two distinct parts: the first one is pure late 60s-early 70s psychedelia; the second one consists of eerie dual organ layers surrounded by the sound of rain. 'Miss Fortune' is the suite that fills the B- side of the vinyl edition, and it pretty much reiterates the band's penchant for complex psychedelic rock and unpredictable nonsense as exhibited in the previous two tracks. A specific note regarding this track: the acoustic guitar based coda bears a buoclic beuaty in its simplicity, but it is preveneted from becoming "romantic" by the presence of a double voiced soliloquy. If you're a listener whose aesthetic feel is in tune with Faust's demanding musical ideology, then this is a record that you will surely enjoy and may even find essential (as I personally do).

(Reviews by Cesar Inca and UMUR / ProgArchive)

If you find it, buy this album!

FAUST – The Faust Tapes (LP-1973)

Label: Virgin – VC 501
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK ( Released: 19 May 1973
Style: Krautrock, Experimental, Free Jazz
Sleeve design [Cover] – Uwe Nettelbeck
Liner Notes – B.D., Christian Lebrun, Ian MacDonald, John Peel, Léon Naje, Philippe Paringaux,S teve Peacock
Painting ["Crest"] – Bridget Riley
Photography By [Photograph] – Robert Horner
Matrix / Runout (Side A Runout stamped): VC 501 A-1U
Matrix / Runout (Side B Runout stamped): VC 501 B-1U

A - Side One ............................................................................ 23:34
B - Side Two ............................................................................ 20:10

Performer [Uncredited] – Gunther Wüsthoff, Hans Joachim Irmler, Jean-Hervé Peron, Rudolf Sosna, Werner Diermaier

Text panel at the top of the front cover:
"The music on this album, drawn from Faust's own library of private tapes, was recorded informally and not originally intended for release. However, since British interest in the group has been unusually great, it has been decided to make some of this unofficial material available to the public in this country. These tapes have been left exactly as they were recorded - frequently live - and no post-production work has been imposed on them. The group wish to make it clear that this is not to be regarded as their third album, but a bonus release - on sale at the current price of a single - to mark their signing with Virgin Records, for whom they will shortly be recording their next official album. The Faust Tapes reveals Faust at their most personal and spontaneous. It's a unique glimpse behind the scenes of a group which European and British critics have hailed as one of the most exciting and exploratory in the world. Virgin Records"

The rest of the front cover text is made out of press quotes from: Best, Rock & Folk, Sounds, Disc, Extra, Pop Music, and New Musical Express.

Black & white 'twins' Virgin labels indicate Side One and Side Two without any track titles, some parts were specified on later reissues. Musicians are uncredited.
The cover has a 'fluted spine' (pinched at both edges).

. "The Faust Tapes" is yet another Faust masterpiece in which their collage-oriented ideology meets a more robust and aggressive expression than in their debut album (which was, indeed, quite intense). Even the more conventionally pop sections and the calmer passages intrinsically bear that typical Faustian bizarre feel, since there's always that impending doom that signals at the possibility for an abrupt change to bring in some sort of insanity - you just can't stop keeping the whole picture in mind (either retrospectively or prospectively) while listening to a specific section. Let's check over what happens during the first 14 minutes: random piano chords on reverb - tribal drumming accompanied by a Zappaesque choral arrangement - an acoustic ballad that reminds the listener of Dylan and The Byrds - singers struggling to gradually reach their highest tone, which is followed by aleatory washes of piano, trumpet, guitar, harmonica, percussion and demented chanting - a half French/half English-sung rocker that states a compromise between The Rolling Stones and The Grateful Dead, with hints to Barrett-era Pink Floyd. All this and more in a most bizarre (at times ,verging on the intolerable) 44 minute pastiche! Once again, I find myself granting a very high rating for an album that I can't honestly recommend to all prog fans alike. While this album is patently designed to draw the unfriendly listener away (miles away, to be more accurate), that won't detract me from regarding it as essential in the history of prog rock, and of course, the history of krautrock. Well, if krautrock was in itself a world apart within the world of prog, Faust created their own world within the aforementioned world apart, and this album certainly epitomizes the most accomplished qualities of their hyper-subversive style. Once I've stated this conclusion, I hope I made myself clear about why I see myself obliged to give this album 4 stars (4 1/2 stars in my mind).
(Review by Cesar Inca / ProgArchive)

While the first Faust albums were definitive Krautrock statemernts, their collaboration (Dream Syndicate) with a minimalist obviously perverted their spirit and Tapes is the real result: one of the very first RIO album (avant-la-lettre, though) that boggles the mind, but can also disturb unaware/unwarned listeners. This often-phantasmagoric soundscape is one of its decade's most influential albums, obviously heard by the Henry Cows and others. Rather hard to describe, the music often is just "bruitages" and montages of almost-industrial noises, but has some rather more accessible (almost easy) moments and some downright strange/disturbing "tunes", rendering the whole mix quite unnerving. Quite a strange but sometimes-wonderful trip. Bassist Jean-Hervé Peron to the French-sung finale the album is over. Incredibly madness.
Are you going to press replay immediately?
(Review by Sean Trane)

This concrete Adonis is built on hairpin turns through already strange, experimental, diverse, and unique musics and sounds and even some peppered in studio talks for that "In My Time of Dying" feel two years early. I can hear free jazz, noise, and proto- industrial alongside the snippets of more familiar krautrock kraziness. A happy surprise comes in the form of some pieces being long, providing some wonderful extended jams that are also respites from the insanity. This is more than just a representation of track skipping/channel hopping in intentional musical form, this is "Breathless" in album form. This defies category; it isn't even really concrete as we'd generally identify it; just mumble 'avant garde' and run. Excellent music in a groin smashing format. For the progheads who like surprises. I need to lie down.
(Review by LearsFool)

If you find it, buy this album!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

LA MONTE YOUNG / MARIAN ZAZEELA - The Theatre Of Eternal Music – Dream House 78'17" (LP-1974)

Label: Shandar – 83 510
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: France / Released: 1974
Style: Modern Classical, Drone, Minimal
Cover [Label, Design, Calligraphy] – Marian Zazeela
Photography By [Cover Photo] – Robert Adler
Liner Notes – Julian Cowley, La Monte Young
Matrix / Runout (A): 83 510 A
Matrix / Runout (B): 83 510 B

A - 13 I 73 5:35-6:14:03 PM NYC ............................................................... 39:03
       trombone – Garrett List
       trumpet – Jon Hassell
       voice – Marian Zazeela
       voice, Electronics [Sine Waves] – La Monte Young
B - Drift Study 14 VII 73 9:27:27-10:06:41 PM NYC .................................. 39:14
       electronics [sine waves] – La Monte Young

Side A - 13 I 73 5:35 - 6:14:03 PM NYC is a sub-section of Map Of 49's Dream The Two Systems Of Eleven Sets Of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery, begun in 1966 as a section of the even longer work: The Tortoise, His Dreams And Journeys which was begun in 1964 with The Theatre Of Eternal Music. Performed 17 January 1973 at La Monte Young's private studio.
Side B - Drift Study 14 VII 73 9:27:27 - 10:06:41 PM NYC Three sine waves. Frequencies and voltages of the sine waves determined and tuned by La Monte Young using oscillators custom designed by Rober Adler to generate specific frequencies and voltages of great stability. Performed 14 July 1973 at La Monte Young's private studio.

For the maximum fidelity on Side 2, reduce the treble controls on your pre-amplifier to minimum. Since the sine waves have no harmonic content, and all are below 202.5 Hertz, this will reduce the surface noise which is normal on most discs. Note: Be sure to keep the treble controls normal on Side 1.

Sleeve Notes:
“Frequencies and voltages of the sine waves generators were determined and tuned by La Monte Young using oscillators custom-designed by sound technician Robert Adler to generate specific frequencies and voltages of great stability. The sine waves produced are such that they interfere with each other, creating changes of volume both in time and space that can be experienced either walking within the room or staying put. If one chooses to walk, he will change the sound experience of other people in the room by moving the molecules of air.”

Dream House 78’17” was originally released by Shandar in 1974. I touch on the label’s history in my piece on Steve Reich’s Four Organs / Phase Patterns. Of all the releases in the label’s catalog, Young’s is the most sought after. It contains two single-sided works. 13 I 73 5:35 – 6:14:03 PM NYC is a sub-section of Map Of 49’s Dream The Two Systems Of Eleven Sets Of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery, which extended from the iconic The Tortoise, His Dreams And Journeys. The recording features a later incarnation of The Theatre Of Eternal Music, with Garrett List on trombone, Jon Hassell on trumpet, Marian Zazeela singing, and La Monte Young singing and playing electronics. It’s pretty mind bending – with Young and Zazeela’s vocals droning away over the sustained electronics and horns. The tonal relationships between the five elements are hypnotic and totally engrossing. One of the first things you’ll notice about the piece is that it stretches a shocking 39:03 – almost double the standard length of an LP side  – but, they are managed the impossible.

The second side finds the third issue of Young’s Drift Study – in this case 14 VII 73 9:27:27 – 10:06:41 PM NYC. Two shorter versions were released during the late 60’s in Aspen, and S.M.S. This is its definite rendering – stretching to 39:14. Drift Study is built from three sine waves which are precision tuned and run through oscillators. If you’ve ever been to the Dream House in NY, this is the same technology (though in the record features a higher frequency). It can be incredibly dislocating. My first few hours in the space (of countless hundreds) were spent trying to work out how the sounds were fluctuating and changing. It messed me up. It’s the closest auditory equivalent to Brion Gysin’s hallucination-inducing Dream Machine. The tonal shifts are created by altering your physical proximity to the waves – thus where in their path or reflection you encounter them. I’ve spent untold hours moving around the Dream House like a turtle, trying to grasp its totality. The recording goes a long way to recreate this experience at home, making Dream House 78’17”.
(Review by Bradford Bailey)

Though I’ve seen reissue of La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela & The Theatre Of Eternal Music’s – Dream House 78’17“, I didn’t hold my breath. Every fan of Young knows of his refusal to grant his blessings for reissues, and of the scarcity (and extremely high price) of originals. Aguirre Records, the label responsible for its return, somehow obtained the record’s license – though I’d be surprised if La Monte gave his permission, making it a curious ethical line.  Since the label did their due diligence, and it’s hard to know what La Monte’s thoughts are (not to mention the fact that he can be a pain in the ass), I’m letting my excitement get the better of me, and giving this one a plug.

If you find it, buy this album!

Monday, July 11, 2016

LA MONTE YOUNG and THE FOREVER BAD BLUES BAND – Just Stompin' (Live At The Kitchen) - 2CD/Gramavision-1993

Label: Gramavision – R2 79487
Format: 2×CD, Album, Gallery edition / Country: US / Released: 1993
Style: Experimental, Avantgarde, Blues, Minimal
Cover, Typography [Calligraphy], Design – Marian Zazeela
Lighting Director – Marian Zazeela
Liner Notes – La Monte Young, Robert Palmer
Product Manager [Design] – Marika Blossfeldt
Mastered By – Chris Muth
Photography By, Cover – Jim Conti
Recorded By, Mixed By – Bob Bielecki
Matrix / Runout (Disc 1): 3 R2 79487-2.1 SRC#01 M1S1
Matrix / Runout (Disc 2): 3 R2 79487-2.2 SRC#01 M1S1

American premiere performance series, The Kitchen, New York, January 14, 1993.

01 CD-1 - Young's Dorian Blues In G (Part 1) ................................ 61:54
02 CD-2 - Young's Dorian Blues In G (Part 2) ................................ 60:23

Composed By – La Monte Young

LA MONTE YOUNG – Korg Synthesizer in just Intonation
JAN CATLER – Just Intonation and Fretless Guitar
BRAD CATLER – Just Intonation and Fretless Bass

"Just Stompin' " was released as a two-CD set from Gramavision Records. It consists of just one piece--"Young's Dorian Blues in G"--recorded live at the January premiere of the piece at the Kitchen in New York.
An album of instrumental, roadhouse blues may seem something of a departure for Young, a revered original, the seminal influence on both minimalism and the Fluxus movement and creator of a highly personal body of work. It makes, however, a clear, relatively compact and accessible expression of his obsessions with extended durations and just intonation, the acoustically pure tuning based on the natural harmonic series. It is also music with a long gestation period, going back to his student days in Los Angeles.

Young has played alto saxophone since he was 7, with his father as his first teacher. He went to John Marshall High School here, studied with William Green and then went on to Los Angeles City College, where everybody told him he should play in the dance band. The first-saxophone chair there was already tied up, but he auditioned and beat out Eric Dolphy for the second-chair position.
He and Dolphy became friends, and both played clarinet in the orchestra, where Dolphy was first chair. Other jazz musicians Young performed with in clubs and sessions at that time included Billy Higgins, Don Cherry, Ornette Coleman and Don Friedman.

At the same time, he was studying with Schoenberg disciple Leonard Stein at Los Angeles City College and became extremely inspired by Webern. From the terse, pared-down creations of Webern to Young's own long-spanned music seems quite a reach, but he finds a credible evolution there, where his early music became "like Webern in augmentation."
Augmented indeed. He usually takes five to six hours to perform his solo piano piece "The Well-Tuned Piano," and he confined "Young's Blues" to two hours only because that was the length of the DAT tape available then.

"I think, in addition to my unique piano style, the just intonation and the Dorian mode, ("Young's Blues") is different because it is a very long, complex, evolved form--really very compositional in structure, not just song forms," the composer says. "I'm totally disinterested in short song forms. I'm interested in evolved structures in extended time formats."
"There is no doubt a short work can be profound and very strong," he says, "but a long work has the potential in the end to be much, much more."

Young learned the importance of silence from both Webern and the contrast between the clarity of the rural sonic environment he knew as a child in Idaho and the noise of the big city he discovered when his family moved to Los Angeles. It figures in his idea of "eternal music," but not so much anymore in actual performances.

"I have these enormous silences between performances," Young says ruefully, "so when I get a chance to play, I seem to want to fill it up with sound."

Young is willing to play pieces such as "The Well-Tuned Piano" only under very special and expensive circumstances. He insists on three months on location, one month exploring the acoustical environment and tuning, followed by two months giving weekly performances. With his Theater of Eternal Music Big Band, he had 23 rehearsals before the first concert.

"This is the way I really want to perform, but very few people can afford to present it," Young concedes. "The blues band is a way I can perform without compromising my principals and still fit into the one-night format.

"This blues setting, with these young musicians, is a way I can show off my compositional skills and improvising, in a way that's more affordable for more concert presenters." (The Forever Bad Blues Band consists of Jon Catler on fretless and just-intonation electric guitars, Brad Catler on similar basses and Jonathan Kane on drums, with Young himself playing a synthesizer in just intonation.)

(By John Henken, special to the LA Times, 1993)

"I consider much of my music... to be blues-based," claims La Monte Young, the acknowledged father of minimalism. This might not seem so bizarre considering his early collaborations with jazz musicians and the undoubted minimal qualities of blues pioneers like Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. Like many of his works, Young has been developing the piece here, "Young's Dorian Blues in G," since its inception in 1960, including his work with his Theatre of Eternal Music ensemble with John Cale and Tony Conrad. Here the piece is presented as a two-hour live performance which he did at the Kitchen in New York in 1993 with a guitar/bass/drums line-up headed by Young's synthesizer in his "just intonation" tuning. Beginning with an elegiac opening, the piece soon evolves into a rollicking, driving, gradually-evolving epic featuring Jon Catler's searing guitar runs and Young's keyboard mimicking a barrelhouse piano -- because the two of them trade solo spots so effectively, this never gets tedious or drawn-out. With its extensive liner notes, Just Stompin' serves an excellent introduction to the work of one of the most important composers of the 20th century, especially for anyone interested in Young's work but frightened off by the scope of the 5-LP The Well-Tuned Piano.
(Review by Jason Gross)

If you find it, buy this album!

Sunday, July 10, 2016

LA MONTE YOUNG / MARIAN ZAZEELA – 31 VII 69 10:26 - 10:49 PM / 23 VIII 64 2:50:45 - 3:11 AM The Volga Delta (1969)

Label: Edition X – 1079
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition / Number of this copy – 395
Country: Germany / Released: 1969
Style: Drone, Contemporary, Minimal
Artwork [Cover, Labels, Design, Calligraphy] – Marian Zazeela
Composed By, Producer, Liner Notes – La Monte Young
Matrix / Runout (Side A - "1079" etched, "-A" stamped): 1079-A
Matrix / Runout (Side B - "1079" etched, "-B" stamped): 1079-B

A - 31 VII 69 10:26 - 10:49 PM ....................................................... 23:00
B - 23 VIII 64 2:50:45 - 3:11 AM The Volga Delta ........................... 20:15

La Monte Young – voice, electronics [sine wave drone], gong [bowed]
Marian Zazeela – voice, gong [bowed]

Eponymous untitled album popularly known as "The Black Record" or "The Black Album"
The cover is black gloss print on matt black and very hard to read.
Numbered edition limited to 2800 copies of which numbers 1-98 are dated and signed by the artists.
Side A: This work was recorded at the date and time indicated in the title, at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, München 31 VII 69 10:26-10:49 PM - is a section of the longer work: Map Of 49's Dream The Two Systems Of Eleven Sets Of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery. Play this side at 33 1/3 rpm only.
Side B: We recorded this gong duet in our studio in New York City on the date and time indicated in the title. It is a section of a larger work: Studies In The Bowed Disc begun in September 1968. To listen to the live performance, playback at 33 1/3 rpm. However, this side may be played back at any slower constant speed down to 8 1/3 rpm, i.e., 16 2/3 rpm which is available on some turntables.

 La Monte Young / Marian Zazeela

La Monte Young is one of the founding members of the genre of musick called Minimalism (a term which he despises). He is one of the greatest innovators of 20th century composition. His influence is everywhere in the world of modern musick. Unfortunately he is for the most part unheard & unknown outside a small circle of musickians & musick lovers.
Young & Zazeela recorded their first full length album in Munich for Heiner Friedrich's Edition X label, released as a limited edition. Side one is a section of “Map of 49's Dream”, performed by Young with sinewave drone & voice, with vocal accompaniment by Zazeela. Side two is an extract from “Study for the Bowed Disc” featuring the duo bowing a gong given to them by sculptor Robert Morris. Morris had made it for his dance piece “War” & asked Young to play it for the performance. Afterwards Morris presented the gong to Young, who began experimenting on it with double bass bows. Young recommended the listener turn the musick up (PLAY FUCKING LOUD), the resulting low drone being a spiritual tool. For the album artwork, Marian Zazeela embedded her calligraphic lettering & designs in black. The point is to focus on her artwork while concentrating on the vocal/sinewave drones of Young's dream music.

Marian Zazeela (she was born 1940) and La Monte Young (born 1935) are an artist couple from the United States who live and work together since 1962 and have ever since taken part in a multitude of projects too numerous to mention. It is far more than music both create as their repertoire also features installation art and paintings. But since our main focus is the music, we concentrate on their just reissued album named 'The Black Record' from 1969 with two lengthy minimal drones that create the ultimate mind expanding atmosphere by hypnotizing the listener and putting him into a state of physical and spiritual trance afterwards. We hear several layers of voices on a deep dark drone as the first track and I could imagine that this drone is in fact the echo of Mrs. Zazeela's chanting voice but it might also be a harmonium or an organ. It sounds too natural and warm for a synthesizer. Whatever it is, it works as a solid base for the wordless chants of both artists. This piece is in fact a selection from a much longer soundscape recorded in an art gallery in Munich in 1969. The minimalistic structure and meandering voice melodies generate a hypnotic and utterly spiritual atmosphere just as if you would witness an Indian meditation ritual. Turn the vinyl around and you will be swallowed by a black hole of sounds. This piece has been recorded in 1968 in the home studio of Young and Zazeela and it predates the cosmic music and proto industrial sounds of early TANGERINE DREAM or CLUSTER by a few years. This album is certainly made for a small audience of people who can put themselves in a state where leaving the body for a spiritual journey is only the next step. Both pieces are far from regular popular music but that makes them even more captivating and intriguing. A challenge for each listener in case he's not used to TANGERINE DREAM's 'Zeit' album yet. Who dares to join us on this strange trip?

If you find it, buy this album!