Thursday, February 10, 2005

sound for the sake of art

During 1989-1991 I spent most nights huddled in my bedroom listening to the radio: 97.7 FM WOXY, Oxford, Ohio; "The Future of Rock 'n' Roll" was their slogan (made famous by Dustin Hoffman in Rain Man). WOXY was my salvation, an endless window into music I couldn't get enough of. Outside of the "modern rock" staples aired during the day, "Gridloxx" became my show of choice. It was a Sunday night affair that delved into the underground of, at the time, what I thought was already underground. My mind was blown every week listening. It was where I got my first doses of Loren Mazzacane Connors, Foetus, Derek Bailey, Einstuerzende Neubauten, even Mudhoney.

One fall night in 1990 I heard a selection of pieces from Artsounds, a dbl LP from 1985 featuring visual artists making music. It was truly bizarre to me: sound collages, misshapen pop music, interviews about architecture, field recordings. I didn't understand it and was never able to find the album or much information about it.

Now, UbuWeb has brought it to the public domain. As their site states: UbuWeb was founded in November of 1996, initially as a repository for visual, concrete and, later, sound poetry. Over the years, UbuWeb has embraced all forms of the avant-garde and beyond. Its parameters continue to expand in all directions.

The album, included with all of its extensive liner notes on each artist, features the sonics of Marcel Duchamp, Minneko Grimmer, Philemona Williamson, Jeff Gordon, Tony McAulay, Jonathan Borofsky, Les Levine, Philip Johnson, John Burgee, Italo Scanga, Thomas Lanigan-Schmidt, Bob Gruen, Jennifer Bartlett and five others. It is hard to pick a favorite, so I suggest downloading the entire album here.

If you just want a sampling, go for Tony McAulay's "Collaborative Poem," with its tinkling jazz piano backing and recitation of famous duos (i.e. Abbot and Costello, Derek Bailey and Even Parker, etc.); Jonathan Borofsky's harrowing yet soulful vocal/amp buzz "Take Your Dreams" (the image above is Borofsky's, Counting From 1 To 3227146 Hand Written On 8 1/2" x 11" Sheets Of Paper With Pen Or Pencil 1969 / 1976); Les Levine's collage "Hereditary Language" of youngsters talking about their future and how they see their world; "Air de Paris" soundpiece by Marcel Duchamp; and rock 'n' roll's photgrapher of choice Bob Gruen doing a pretty straight version of "When You're Smiling."

Marcel Duchamp - Air de Paris
Jonathan Borofsky - Take Your Dreams
Tony McAulay - Collaborative Poem
Les Levine - Hereditary Language
Bob Gruen - When You're Smiling


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