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Juxtaposition Ezine

Many years ago, I started a blog named Juxtaposition Ezine. Here’s a column I from a series I was working on, until I finally folded the blog.

Visitation #11

New Gamelan/New York
Gamelan Son of Lion
(GSOL CD-1)

Gamelan Son of Lion is both a New World gamelan and a new music group. Not only are GSOL continuing tradition, but they are contributing and extending it by writing new music for the ensemble. Although the entire CD is noteable, here’s some highlights:

  • Laura Liben’s Piece for Peace in the Middle East features tuned bamboo angklung rattles in different time signatures.
  • Mark Steven Brooks contributes some short movements in Four Dances for Balinese Angklung.
  • A digital gamelan of sampled wine glasses perform Kebyar Leyak by David Simons. Spooky vocal sample snippets from a TV documentary on UFO’s are included (I recognize this material!).
  • The clarinet in co-founder Daniel Goode’s Slendro Clarinet makes one forget that the clarinet is from Europe!
  • Jody Kruskal, David Demnitz and co-founder Barbara Benary also contribute pieces.

One of few ways of exposing yourself to the percussion ensemble music of Indonesia as filtered through the West. Highly recommended.

Hopefully someday the Gamelan in the New World lp’s on Folkways will be re-released on CD.

Writhing to the Occasion
Mark Steven Brooks
(Elaterium Records EL-6)

Gritty improvised electronics from the producer of the Gamelan Son of Lion CD (see first review, above). Cubic (in three parts) for computer generated sound brings us electronic night life and various other alien landscapes. In Prelude and Solo #3 for digitally processed theremin, Brooks caresses the instrument to produce sliding tones and then releases them into the ether, echoing and blooming into a cloud of processed reverb. No Still Point and Threnody are both for digital synthesizer yet seem influenced by his work with the theremin. A refreshing leap beyond the usual. Jump in – the electronic soup is great!

Spin-17
(Quodlibet QLCD001)

50:56 minutes of pure fun and mayhem. A free wheeling skip through rock, jazz, free improv, music concrete, dj turntable frennzy, skronk opera, studio manipulation, toy instruments and anything/everything else…twisted electronics, 20th century clarinet, heavy guitar, tapes, tape manipulation and turntable acrobatics by Ed Chang vs. vocal extremities, turntable gymnastics, toys, gizmos and more heavy guitar by Motoko Shimizu. Includes a nod to John Cage with a performance of Aria. Not for the weak of heart – nothing stays the same for more than a few seconds – take a step beyond and fall off the edge. Recommended.

Original Masters – Night Passage
Alan Lamb
(Dorobo 013)

These last three new recordings are by people who have been reviewed on this site before. Telegraph wire sound artist/musican Alan Lamb’s Night Passage has finally been released, the de-mixes by studio wizards Ryoji Ikeda, Thomas Köner, Lustmord and Bernhard Günter having been released a while back. Lamb’s music is found on abandoned telegraph wires and recorded.

The best stuff is edited in to these recordings without any studio manipulation. What you hear is the original recording of wires shifting in the wind. See the Juxtaposition Ezine review of his Night Passages de-mixed for more info.

O°C
Ryoji Ikeda
(Touch TO:38)

Ryoji Ikeda is back with his follow up to his +/-, this one is called O°C. Zero degrees centigrade? Minimal reverb, minimal samples. Full of beating, beeping, ticking, ambient moments that give way to thumping electronics. A truly gifted use of silence and hard edged electronics. His last cd made Juxtaposition Ezine’s Notable releases of 1997. “Sine tone madness. Extreme beep music. Really high notes. Really low notes. Really cool too.” “I love it. Zen techno rock garden of boops and drones. Sort of like a friendly MRI.”

Outland III
Pete Namlook & Bill Laswell
(FAX PW 37)

And last, but not least…is the last in the Outland trilogy of collaborations between FAX label guru Pete Namlook and bassist/producer Bill Laswell – Outland III. Some signature Namlook beats…some timeless floating ambient. Not quite up to the standards of Outland I, this sounds like Laswell wasn’t there for the mix down, his trademark thumpy bass just isn’t thumpy enough. Is this the end of the union of Namlook & Laswell? Let’s see what happens…stay tuned.

dB
8/4/1998

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Harold Budd and Jon Gibson
in NYC: April 24, 1997

Harold Budd and Jon Gibson, two principle figures of ambient music and minimalism, played at the Merkin Concert Hall in NYC on Thursday, April 24, 1997. Budd is perhaps best known as a collaborator with Brian Eno and the Cocteau Twins, and his controversial work “Madrigals of the Rose Angel” (1972), performed by a topless female chorus, harp, percussion, celeste and lights. Gibson is a saxophonist/flautist who has played with all four “major” minimalist composers: Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Steve Reich, and Philip Glass.

Set List:

Gibson- CHROME I (1996; World premiere)
Budd- NOVE ALBERI (New York premiere; poem “The Butterfly” by Michael McClure)
Budd & Gibson- CUIDADES (1996; World Premiere)
Budd- MORE THAN THIS [the Roxy Music song]/ CAROUSEL AT THE END OF THE WORLD [Francesco Landini] (New York Premiere)
Budd & Gibson- FLAGS: Parallel Eagles-Jagged-Dance of the Cubes-Stan I- Stan II-Lambda Halved-Lambda Squared-A Rose It Isn’t-Pleasure [by Steven Brown]-The Night is Remiss- Parallel Eagles (World Premiere)
Budd- FRAGMENTS FROM “1000 CHORDS” (for John Foxx) (New York Premiere)
Gibson- MUCH ADO (World Premiere)
Budd & Gibson- CONSTELLATION OF SPIRES (World Premiere)

Gibson started the set out with “CHROME I”, a piece comprised primarily of merely five notes, with long, extended, hold-your-breath-till-it-hurts trills frenetically played on saxophone. His fingers could be heard audibly tapping the valves of the instrument, almost like a telegraph. Very interesting work.
Budd then came out and delivered “NOVE ALBERI”, a very haunting piece very reminiscent of Laurie Anderson’s work, with a pre-recorded backdrop and Budd’s sparse piano drifting unnoticably in and out of the atmosphere. Budd delivered the poem deep and dark, almost as if in a trance. Really captivating stuff.

The two came out and then played “CUIDADES”, a very simple work with Budd playing two ascending riffs (improvising each time by dragging out the spacing or by omitting notes), while Gibson played a beautiful some beautiful stuff over it.

Budd’s next piece, a combination of Bryan Ferry’s “More Than This” (so transformed as to be virtually unrecognizable) and Francesco Landini’s “Carousel at the End of the World” was a highlight of the evening: spritely and energetically delivered.

“FLAGS” was the evening’s crux, with many varied sections. “Parallel Eagles” was a broad ‘n’ brooding, legato piece while “Stan” had an upbeat, jazzy feel to it.

“FRAGMENTS from 1000 CHORDS” made heavy use of the Budd trademark: the “hazy”/”languid” chords (usually sevenths, ninths, augmenteds, diminisheds) that he executes masterfully on his most beautiful pieces.

“MUCH ADO” brough Gibson back on solo, for a wild performance of heavily echoed flute cadenzas.
The duo closed with “CONSTELLATION OF SPIRES”, another hauntingly beautiful piece to enamour the audience.

I really enjoyed the performance, and hope that some of this stuff, if it isn’t already, gets recorded (I think, though I could be wrong, that “Nove Alberi” is already on Budd’s latest studio album “LUXA”). One thing you took away from the performance was Budd’s us of spacing; listening to him play live, it gives the illusion that each note he plays has travelled a few light years to get from the piano to your ears! That’s seriously what it seemed like to me: watching a starry sky at nighttime.

After the show, I talked with him for a bit- he’s really a great guy, again (like Terry Riley, who I had seen maybe a month ago), very approachable, friendly, easy to talk to. If you do talk to him, however, be warned that he prefers not to shake hands (though someone else there did and he didn’t scowl at them or anything 😉 )-apparently, I think his left hand may be slightly injured (?). I asked him about his experiences with making “THE MOON AND THE MELODIES” album (with the Cocteau Twins), to which he said that he enjoyed making the album with them, though they went into it completely in the dark, not knowing what to do or expect; although he doesn’t consider it a perfect album, he’s overall happy with it (at least we both agreed that “Memory Gongs” was a great song! 🙂 )…and what were the Cocteau Twins like, I asked? “Oh, they are absolutely wonderful people! Totally unpretentious, no egos, or..you know…*none of that crap* !! Plus, she [Elizabeth Fraser] has an absolutely beautiful voice…” “Is Brian Eno like that, too?” “Oh yes, most definately…” (!!) 🙂

Joe McGlinchey
Sun, 27 Apr 1997

Note: I was at Harry Partch’s Oedipus across town so I missed this rare appearance by Harold Budd in NYC. Good thing Joe was there! This review originally appeared in the USENET newsgroups and appears here with the authors permission.

db
10/2/1997

Originally published online at Juxtaposition Ezine.

OM_MANI1In 1996, I had a day job in the magazine business and I saw the editors always getting lots of promotional compact discs. I thought…hey I could do that. And so Juxtaposition Ezine was born. I had some major surgery on my leg and had a bit of time on my hands, so I wrote a bit, eventually including reviews of shows I went to. I stopped writing after a while because didn’t have time. Later I wrote reviews for the Downtown Music Gallery Newsletter.

dB
12/31/2012

Here’s what I wrote about the review of my site from the Wire in 1998.

The Wire is an internationally distributed new music publication published in London. In the June 1998 issue, Rob Young reviewed Juxtaposition Ezine for his Multimedia feature. How about that! The only thing they got wrong was the authorship of the NewBand article – that was by Philly tuning theorist Joe Monzo. I don’t know about Joe but I can live with that. Anyway… thanks to The Wire for noticing my efforts.

The Wire review:

Lots of articles here on a wide range of New Music, with emphasis on Just Intonation and microtones, but with a strong penchant for the exploits of (former) Prog rockers (there’s a recent live review of Bill Bruford and Tony Levin’s Upper Extremities at New York’s Knitting Factory). Webmaster David Beardsley has his ear to the ground in the States – he reviews a live soundtrack to the Murnau film of the Last Laugh by Newband leader Dean Drummond, performed on the instruments of Harry Partch; and he traces the interface of gamelan on the Fouth World fusions of Bill Alves. Other names that rase an eyebrow among the ever growing archive of profiles, live reviews and ruminations include Cluster, Eno, Deep Listening Band and Ornette Coleman, and there’s the odd side trip into the world of multimedia installation by the likes of sound sculptor Harry Bertoia. Plenty to mull over for browsers trying to escape the summer sun.

Pretty cool, eh?

db, 5/31/1998

Music for Airports
Brian Eno’s seminal ambient masterpiece
as performed by Bang On A Can

also Annie Gosfield, Glen Branca and Arnold Dreyblatt
Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center, NY, NY.
March 7, 1998

I first heard about the Bang On A Can transcriptions on Brian Eno’s Ambient 1: Music for Airports last year when I endured the annual BOAC marathon. A transcription many people asked. Why? Dumb question. Cash for Eno. Cash for BOAC. Homage. Whatever. I went for the other composers anyway (more on that later).

The transcription is a bit more then that: also a re-orchestration, there were a few parts that weren’t on the original. A repeated microtonal ornament by the cellist, an out of tune trumpet in 1/1. During 1/2, the percussionist whipped out some brake drums and played them by rubbing something around the inside rim like a tibetan bowl. This resulted in a cool shimmering scraping sound like Superman lifting a manhole cover but what was it doing in 1/2??? What was that all about? Halfways through the tour, DJ Spooky will probably be up there spinning records.

Despite those problems, the BOAC arrangement (at least on cd) is stunning. The percussionist’s gong, vibes, marimba and tubular bells – among other instruments – with the piano, lend an almost Harold Budd atmosphere to the proceedings. Bowed vibraphone always lifts music to heaven and it’s use during 2/2 did just that.

Annie Gosfield’s been getting an increasing number of performances in NYC and tonight’s performance of “The Manufacture of Tangled Ivory” was another example of her fascination with detuned piano. In the first section, various studio enhanced samples of piano are pounded abstractly – early 20th century angst – on a keyboard. Followed by a thrashing band unison section where the guitar player would mute and slash at the strings and the cello and acoustic bassist abuse one note or drum on the bodies of their instruments. Likewise, the drummer, who sounded incredible in this hall, pounded out time on the toms. A regular uptown/downtown jungle/20th century angst fest.

When I got the promo post card from BOAC, I doubted that Glenn Branca was still a microtonalist. I thought that Branca abandoned just intonation, but apparently the BOAC commission “Movement Within” does the trick. Reviving his home made instruments: two keyboards, an organ, a guitar, a hammered dulcimer and a approximately 9 foot long steel guitar – all microtonal harmonic series tunings – this was the jaw dropping work of the evening. Nice stereo mix too, I was sitting in the back of the hall and the two keyboards seemed to be panned left and right, huge harmonic chords making the room pulse back and forth.

Arnold Dreyblatt’s “Escalator” is based on recordings of malfunctioning escalators. The band would hammer away on one note while the drums pounded with Beefheartian rhythms. Tense harmonies abruptly gave way to gentler sections while still maintaining typical Dreyblatt rhythms. “Escalator” sounded less like a malfunctioning escalators than an insanely mad town orchestra. BOAC should commission more works by New York City microtonalists like Branca and Dreyblatt.

db
3/9/1998

Originally published online at Juxtaposition Ezine.

Litany for the Whale
Theatre of Voices
John Cage, Paul Hillier, Terry Riley
Harmonia Mundi HMU 907187

Paul Hillier is mostly known for his performances of early music, although he has recorded the music of Ingram Marshall, minimalist composer Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt and others. On this CD by radical avant gard American composer John Cage (1912 – 1992), Hillier is joined by his ensemble Theatre of Voices and special guest early minimalist Terry Riley. There’s a wide range of vocal music by Cage on this disc.

A pastoral duet between Theatre of Voices members Alan Bennett and Paul Elliott on Litany for the Whale opens the disc. 26 minutes of Cageian vocalese based on the word whale where two voices sound as one. I listened to this piece a few times and read the liner notes before I realized there was more than one person singing.

Aria No. 2 starts with thunder and a kiss, Paul Hillier explores vowels and consonants from five languages: Armenian, Russian, Italian, French and English. On the late Cage piece, Five, five voices blend harmoniously. Hillier’s solo voice on The Wonderful Widow of Eighteen Springs is accompanied by closed piano. One can hear him tapping about on the piano while singing text from Finnegan’s Wake. Solo for Voice from Songbooks, is split up between two performers who make textural breathing sounds that are in turn electronically processed.

Soloist Andrea Fullington sings Experiences No.2 based on e.e cummings “III,” Sonnets-Unrealities, Tulips and Chimneys (1923). This sweet ballad serves as an introduction to conversational tone of: Mesostics re and not re Marcel Duchamp as performed by Paul Hillier and Terry Riley. Back and forth: Riley recites and Hillier sings through various digital sound processing devices.

Aria (for Cathy Berberian) is a theatrical festival for seven voices and electronics. Hillier arranged the piece for multiple voices to cover the different vocal styles. The electronics give the listener an added colorful element of enviroment . Bells, breaking glass, water, the surf and other sounds illustrate the work.

A satisfying and frequently unpredictable survey of Cage’s vocal music as performed by Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices. Highly recommended.

David Beardsley
7/22/98

Originally published online at Juxtaposition Ezine.

Catler Bros.
Knitting Factory Alterknit Theater, New York, N.Y.
March 16, 1997

Just Intonation is a way of tuning instruments to intervals of whole number ratios. This is common in most non-western musical traditions. When mass production of the piano was started in the 1800’s, tuning was standardized to 12 tone equal temperament in the western world. In this century, modern post-classical composers like Harry Partch, La Monte Young and Ivor Darreg showed the way for composers interested in expanding their musical resources beyond 12 tet tuning.

At the Knit, Jon Catler, Brad Catler and Jonathan Kane showed that these tuning concepts can be used in the loose improvisational context of rock and jazz fusion. Not the lame Love Boat/Doctor’s office fusion of Kenny G. but a loose fusion of East/West jazz & Hendrix blues rock. Sort of like-raga-but-not-raga: modal.

The majority of the set was filled with tunes from the new Catler Bros. Crash Landing cd. Using a guitar with interchangeable fret boards, Jon Catler played mostly frettless guitar and occasionally 49 tone just intonation fretted guitar. Brad Catler played fretless bass with a truly gritty rock and roll tone and Jonathan Kane provided rock solid drumming through out the set.

For me, one of the revelations of the evening was Jon’s extended solos on fretless guitar. Apparently his fingerboard is made of steel like the Indian sarod. This enables him to get a harder tone than I’ve heard from guitars with a wood fingerboard. He could control feedback in a unique way by sliding around. Unlike a guitar with a vibrato arm where the strings go slack and the strings change tone, the strings on a fretless instrument retain their tone. Two of the non-album tunes covered by the band were Jimi Hendrix’s Little Wing and Ornette Coleman’s Free.

The Catler Bros. have been around New York for years with their own special blend of tuning and guitars. This version of the band is also known as La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band appearing on Just Stompin’: Live at the Kitchen (Grammavision). Both Jon and Brad have been frequent performers at the American Festival of Microtonal Music and will return for this season’s concert series. In April 1997, Jon Catler will be playing Harry Partch’s original Adapted Guitars I & II in the Newband’s production of Oedipus at the Modern Museum of Art.

David Beardsley
Originally published online at Juxtaposition Ezine.

Spirit World
Tisziji Muñoz

Anami

Guitarist Muñoz owes a lot to the modal ecstatic jazz of Impulse! records period John Coltrane. At one time the replacement for Sonny Sharrock in the Pharoah Sanders band, he is here joined by saxophonist Sanders – another influence in his composing – Rashied Ali (percussion), Bernie Senenski (piano), and Don Pate (bass).

Clean burning guitar lines with a real nice distorted tone reminiscent of Sharrock (Ask The Ages on Axiom), early ’70’s Mahavishnu John McLaughlin or the *spiritual* Carlos Santana (without the latin percussion and specifically on Illuminations with Alice Coltrane). I know I’ll be looking forward to other releases by Tisziji Muñoz. (Pronounced: Tiss-see-jee Moon-yos)

Rainforest (Versions I & IV)
David Tudor

Mode
Mode 64

In a way, there were two David Tudors. There was the pianist who premiered many pieces of New Music for piano (Stockhausen, Cage, Feldman, Young). There was also the electro-acoustic composer/performer who conceived the music on this cd.

Objects are rigged with contact microphones, fed in to Tudor built filters and a mixing board. The results are then amplified through speakers. The objects pick up these vibrations creating a feedback loop of sound that is controlled by the composer and/or assistants. And yes, at times it does sound like an alien electronic rainforest with strange creaking and groaning. A classic before it was even released.

Columbia-Princeton Music Center
New World Records
80521-2

An excellent sampling of electro-acoustic music that came out of the legendary Columbia-Princeton Music Center from 1961 to 1973. Composers include: Bülent Arel, Daria Semegen, Ilhan Mimaroglu, Ingram Marshall, Alice Shields and Charles Dodge (who’s classic Earth’s Magnetic Field is reissued here for the 1st time on CD).

Includes extensive liner notes with an article by Alice Shields detailing the center, Sound Sources in the Classical Analog Studio, Analog Sound Manipulation, notes on the music, biographical information on the composers, selected works and recordings by the composers and a selected bibliography.

Highly recommended.

db
11/16/1998

Originally published online at Juxtaposition Ezine.

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