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John Cage — Early Electronic and Tape Music (2014)

John Cage — Early Electronic and Tape Music (April 2, 2014)

USA Flag   John Cage — Early Electronic and Tape Music
♦   American composer John Cage, among history's most influential artistic innovators, strove to broaden the definition of music and introduced chance operations into the compositional process.
♦  I believe the use of noise to make music will continue and increase until we reach a music produced through the aid of electrical instruments which will make available for musical purposes any and all sounds that can be heard.” — John Cage, 1937. 
Born: September 5, 1912 in Los Angeles, CA
Died: August 12, 1992 in New York, NY
Album release: April 2, 2014
Record Label: Sub Rosa
Duration:     46:21
Tracks:
1. Fontana Mix with Aria (1958)     13:36
2. Imaginary Landscape N° 5 (1952)     3:01
3. Wbai (1960)     7:00
4. Cartridge Music (1960)     10:02
5. 4’ 33’’  No. 2: 0’’ 00’’ (1962)     2:36
6. Variations I (1960)     10:06
** 180g silver/white vinyl — Historically important pieces documenting John Cage's early electronic and tape practice
Description:
♦   Sub Rosa present a beautiful collection of experimental genius John Cage’s early electronic tape music, with faithful realisations of pieces conceived of from 1952 to 1962 provided by the Langham Research Centre. From the anarchic collaging of ‘Fontana Mix’ and ‘Imaginary Landscape’, which contains one of the first ever instances of turntabilism, to the extended hissing drones of ‘Variations I’, the release showcases the visionary work of the avant-garde composer succinctly and engagingly. Though radical at the time, it is intriguing to note the manner in which Cage’s noisey tape experiments have become commonplace in DIY music cultures since, as much as within the rarified world of avant-garde composition.
REVIEW
Robert Worby, Langham Research Centre (LRC)
♦   Although John Cage occasionally worked in large, sophisticated studios — for example, when he composed Fontana Mix in 1958 — his approach to electronic and tape music was often uncomplicated, makeshift, and pragmatic, employing simple tabletop devices: tape machines, phonograph cartridges, contact microphones, record players, portable radios, etc. He developed a soundworld that was utterly new, radical and demanding. It heralded the age of the loudspeaker, mass communication and Marshall McLuhan’s ‘global village.’ The hiss, crackle and hum of electronic circuits, and the disembodied sounds, snatched by radio from the ether, spoke of the 20th century.
♦   Langham Research Centre works within the tradition firmly established by Cage, using resources that would have been available to him. For the realisation of Cartridge Music, moving iron phonograph pickups were sourced and restored. These have a knurled screw designed to hold a steel phonograph needle and, in the piece, other objects are inserted and amplified: pieces of wire, toothpicks, paperclips, etc. The realisation of Fontana Mix includes the individual mono tracks from Cage’s original tapes created in 1958. These are played using open-reel tape machines. These practices ensure we work within the limitations that Cage experienced and enable us to get close to the soundworld he inhabited. — boomkat
Reviewed by Dave Shim
♦   Although his looming influence extends far beyond music and into the realms of art, poetry and painting, John Cage is perhaps the least understood and above all least heard of all 20th century American composers. Viewed as a radical philosopher-muse who broke aesthetic barriers by introducing non-musical elements such as extended silence ("4' 33" "), indeterminacy and chance, Cage's broader oeuvre is all too often deemed "impenetrable" by even those well versed in avant-garde music. Among Cage's most challenging works of the 1950s and '60s were electronic realizations, performed live with makeshift tools and recording technology of the day. Early Electronic and Tape Music gathers six such Cage pieces in the loving hands of the Langham Research Centre, a UK-based new music troupe specializing in authentic re-creations of classic electronic compositions. Remaining steadfast to the tradition established by Cage collaborators such as David Tudor and Bebe and Louis Barron, LRC utilize open-reel tape machines, portable radios, turntables, and magnetic pickups, using them to coax all manner of noises, from high-frequency squeals and low-end rumbles to fleeting snippets of big band music and disembodied voices. While less adventurous ears and the otherwise Cage averse will likely want to pass over this collection, others with a fancy for electro-acoustic improvisation a la AMM or MEV, or a foothold in the noisier strains of free improvisation (Borbetomagus, Voice Crack), will have plenty of sonic grist to mill here. (April 2, 2014)                     © Example 7: Mosaïques, Transcription of Sketch Showing Row Forms
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John Cage — Early Electronic and Tape Music (2014)

 

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