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Akos Rozmann - 12 Stations / Tolv Stationer (1978-2001) (Ideologic Organ)



Man meets different difficulties and sufferings through his wandering. These are forces between which a continuous struggle is going on. He cannot control and preside over these forces. He is being tossed up and down, powerless, like snowflakes in the storm: chaotic thoughts and feelings, gladness and suffering, which flow without intermission like a river that has no beginning nor end. - Rózmann (from the programme notes for the 1984 premiere of the first seven stations). 

Immense.............hellish...........difficult................exhausting..........to represent life's 'difficulties and sufferings' Akos Rozmann had to create a massive work and here it is..................the 'storm' of existence in the form of over six and a half hour's worth of sound.................and it is a struggle to grasp the work in its entirety.....the mind wanders, perhaps................wondering how it is possible to take in such a vast...............thing..........a beast..................a symphony of spliced, twisted, warped material which began as a five-minute tape piece for soprano singer and prepared piano to become this..............the ultimate in remixing raw ingredients...............reconfiguring, cutting, altering speeds, processing and improvising on a sampler keyboard...............how did Rozmann not go insane? He abandoned the project in 1980 having first used the traditional musique concrete technique, to start again in 1998 using new technology to rework the old material.......as if he could not escape what he had started..................trapped by its potential......it's endless potential..............what he saw in those grains of sound..............an eternal transformation.......the river 'that has no beginning nor end'! 

Despite his willingness to entertain the idea of 'gladness' being part of our journey, there is little evidence here that Rozmann wished to represent a great deal of it.............no lengthy celebratory passages of the joy that life can bring to counterbalance the suffering.........no.......................we start in the two-part Property - Room................lost property room, perhaps, wherein would-be seekers of their lost souls appear with much wailing and groaning, accompanied by, amongst other things, the strings of that prepared piano plucked to the point of being shredded..........to determine the source of concrete sound is notoriously difficult, the point being metamorphosis into something else, of course....................here objects appear to collide, crash to the floor and be tortured until they change beyond recognition, reaching points of intense mutation around the halfway mark.............................................a stretching, creaking entity..........fragmented voices fly from ear-to-ear, barely human..............alone, at times, as if crying out for salvation.....there is enough in these two parts alone to occupy the listener for a very long time....and we have yet to experience The Contents and Life of the Black Pit, which is disturbing in the extreme..............harshly distorted, multi-layered vocals are phased in and out of the mix......ripped to shreds in a hell of cross-faded noise...................is that the crack of Satan's whip? 

The Abandonment of Hell hardly offers relief from what has gone before.......................although there's a suggestion of calm to begin with through use of the soprano, a sombre mood is maintained.........that hellhound is still on your trail and will never go away...................it's as if Rozmann's desire to offer a form of release from The Pit was overwhelmed by the ultimate belief that there is no real escape...........even The Awakening is plagued ominous tones.................no 'Hallelujah!' moment..............Rozmann utilising the digital process to maximum effect in the shifting layers of sound which carry further mutations of the base elements.............finally, The Celebrators...................and absolution of sorts..................relative light at the end of this very long, incredibly dark tunnel..................yet Rozmann will not...cannot resist tingeing this with melancholy..................the celestial voice in the vastness of.........................space?..........the returning, ever returning disruption of peace and stability................before, right at the end, respite.................salvation?

This is without doubt a tremendous achievement..........like life, a test of our ability to persevere..........for what we desire or expect of music is challenged here from the start right until the end........if the techniques and, in part, the results may be familiar to fans of Pierre Henry and Francois Bayle, the sheer scale is like nothing else...............................................it's a long 'river'....................


Campylobacter - Dolly Dolly



Following David Yates' superb Antimacassar recording a year ago, this book is a perfect accompaniment to those 21st century surrealist recordings. The spirit of Dada and Max Ernst in particular is alive and well in the form of this collage/text combination. Text sample:

'Artists cry.
When you don't look at them.
They are vain.
And precocious.'

He's right, you know. Witty, absurdist and brilliant. Only 100 copies available here for just £6 plus postage.



ARK.........Words and Images from the Royal College of Art


Great book. Contains every cover (with separate spine binding for that section) and selected articles. Well designed, as you'd expect. Theinhard and Antwerp fonts - very cool. Available here








Music Round-Up: Modern Feelings / Heith / Cage Suburbia


Modern Feelings - Modern Feelings (Sahko Recordings) >>>>>>>>>> warning: not for the faint-hearted or those horses that scare easily......Improv...what do you make of it? Do you long for melody, structure, harmony? Yes? We all like that but..you know....sometimes it's good to jump into sonic waters of the opposite kind...where there's no lifeguard (except the 'stop' button)....and it's all the Deep End......Anton Nikkilä (electronics, guitar), Pekka Airaksinen (piano), Ari Salonen (bass), Samuli Tanner (drums, electronics) 'live' and electro-acoustic..........there is breathing space (on Smooth variations V1) but a lot of crowded cut 'n' thrust between all involved as they bounce off each other like rubber balls in a box being shaken ...........a big box...........made of steel...........oh, you know what I mean...................Improv may not be anybody's everybody's cuppa tea.........but it's a buzz....like electro-shock therapy......and as such, is good for you........but with potentially damaging side effects..............Sahko Recordings





Heith - Silence Will Expire / Cage Suburbia - Argument #02 (HaunterRecords) >>>>
......two EPs from Haunter Records......yes, so what?...they're both very good....Heith heaving in with a 6-track trip to the doomy side of low-end noir artistry..........not quick fix coldness but studies, if I may be so bold, in the sub-strata....where bass frequencies wobble your innards...................and good electro-acoustics (on Directions For Falling, especially) prove that there's life yet in the creeping undead genre........................
Cage Suburbia comes from another angle...........the spiky one...spiky like a mace........a sonic mace embedding itself in your skull.............but you like it....I like it...........the racket, the rabid beats that can't contain what they're carrying.......the bonkers distortion of Port Au Prince with it's whiplash hissing and wild FX........each track's named after a port in Europe, so it's a travelogue of sorts........except....the kind which records a mental breakdown on speed whilst being beaten up by sailors high on crack who then ram a ship's propeller in your ears...........that kind..........evil.............and good.........


Howlround - Torridon Gate (A Year In The Country)


'Sounds must play for we don't play with instruments, we play with soundtrack, with editing, filtering, reverberation. These games must use all kind of possibilities. It's about transformation, the magic of transformation of sounds is important. I've always thought of music as a way to let things come out. Many sounds, and also many ideas. It's an animation, an animation of sound talk.' - Pierre Henry

"The creaking gate lasts longest", my dear ol' Mum used to say - well, Robin The Fog and Chris Weaver have ensured that the sound of a gate on Torridon Road in London is immortalised.  They mic'd up the metalwork and processed the results on reel-to-reel tape machines. Whilst the BBC's Radiophonic Workshop are often (justifiably) name-checked in relation to Howlround, Torridon Gate's obvious predecessor is Pierre Henry's Variations Pour une Porte et un Soupir (1963). Maurice Béjart created a ballet based on it...


...the dancers are obviously a little more flexible than me...the sounds which accompany their movements are reminiscent of those made by my joints first thing in the morning.

Henry's door recordings may be simple compared to Howlround's, but their strangeness stems from the very fact that we can tell what we're hearing. Howlround's recording succeeds by obfuscating the source, rendering the 'real' unreal and transforming the ordinary into an other-worldly phenomenon. The simple metal gate becomes a portal to...the spirit world of inanimate objects? Or can we hear the ghosts of all those who have passed through 'the gate' to life beyond this one we know? The gate as metaphor...if you like. Wherever your imagination takes you, Torridon Gate is an urban source response to the dark moors and haunted woods mythology of modern folklorist music-makers. In that sense, it is more 'homely', but the resulting sounds take you very far away indeed.


The Art Of Electronic Music, 1984, GPI Publications


This collection of articles culled from Keyboard Magazine makes a very fine book. Features on individual artists such as Brian Eno and Wendy Carlos as well as a great piece on the Columbia/Princeton center (Ussachevsky & Luening interviewed).

The history of electronic music goes like this: it was brilliant when it was made by crusty-looking geezers in suits who looked like bank clerks but were actually pioneers producing fantastic music, then t-shirt-wearers with long hair came along and it was still good but things turned Proggy and druggy and went a bit wrong, then the Pop synth boom in the UK happened, which gives me an excuse to say I saw The Human League when there were just three of them (the visual artist, whose name I've forgotten, was considered, radically, to be the third member!)...er...yes...so Thomas Dolby's in this book too, bringing it right up to date, eh? But electronic music's healthy again now, isn't it? Yes. So now you know...


Edouard Coupleux & Joseph Givelet with automatic synthesizer, 1929

RCA Mark II, 1955

Paul Ketoff & John Eaton with Synket, 1965

Raymond Scott's Electronium, 1965

NWDR studio, Cologne, 1953

Bob Moog & Roger Powell, 1974

Don Buchla

Wendy Carlos

Otto Luening (left) & Vladimir Ussachevsky, 1954

Susan Ciani




Avatar Magazine Spread 1967


When Boston officials arrested the publishers of Avatar magazine on obscenity charges this was their response...


Racker&Orphan - Twalif X (A Year In The Country)



...........a walk in the woods with Racker & Orphan.............and their recording equipment...................doesn't sound very interesting........................but it's not all crow calls and howling wind..........(although I'm not above being seduced by such typical crepuscular audio recordings)..................
instead......almost inaudible somethings on the way towards brief acoustic guitar plucking and more things.......then what sounds like the heavy breath of Satan on your trail............drumming and cymbals, at which point, it reminds me of a quiet point the Art Ensemble of Chicago might reach on, say, Urban Bushmen.........and despite (or because of) the rolling, rustling, crunching of things with no attempt to render them 'musical', it's all engrossing..............................(and a beautiful handmade product as shown above)

You can hear it and other products at A Year In The Country

The Book Of Alien, 1979


I watched Alien again the other day, having just bought this book...like I needed an excuse (it was a good prompt). But, well, it had been a couple of years since I last watched it again and...guess what...it's still amazing. And you know that too. Watching the documentary (posted below) increased my admiration for Ridley Scott, his determination to get it right. That and the film's journey from just a monster B-Movie to what it became make the whole project incredible. 




Giger working on 'the space jockey'

Ron Cobb drawing


Ron Cobb drawing


Wanda Group - Symirroretry (Meds) / Andrew Lovgren's Film




Skateboarding as a metaphor for all creative activity? Why not life, full stop? You fall off the damned board, it hurts like hell but you get on and ride again. Andrew Lovgren's artfully composed documentary, complete with dream/nightmare sequences and exquisitely shot studio scenes, connects Art with the art of freewheeling through the streets. His choice of Wanda Group for the soundtrack to Symirroretry is a good one, being contrary to the obvious cliché of 'urban' sounds and in the spirit of independent thought. There's something of William Burroughs' Wild Boys about the masked skateboarders in black rolling through the night. Whilst they're not as wilfully destructive as Old Bull Lee's bad boys, Lovgren's film features some clips from street shooting that demonstrate the hostility they provoke, one particularly funny example coming from an old lady here in London Town. 

Louis Johnstone's Wanda Group project matches the individualistic attitude of skateboarding and, yes, art-making on the outside of things. Whilst skateboarding is also a community, as expressed in the film, it is also, ultimately, a solo venture. No 'sexy' pounding beats cut to the clack of a board hitting concrete after a great trick here, thankfully. This soundtrack barely makes any sound at all in some places, but does sound, at times, like nothing more, or less, than the rolling of wheels going off into the night. Perhaps a hint of heavy industry still working out there on the edge of the city...field recordings...the clatter of a train...voices...vapour trails of sound....more like exhaust fumes, perhaps, through which skateboarders sail...

The CD is a limited of edition of 150 hand-numbered copies in screen-printed gatefold sleeves and you can get it here.


Watch Symirroretry here


When Wrong Is Right




Reading the Kid Shirt blog yesterday, this post struck me as absolutely right. When I wrote this a lifetime ago I was trying to say something similar regarding writing. How many Wrongs can make a big Right? Recalling a girlfriend (ex) who once told me that Henry Miller needed an editor - eh?! That aside, I think she disliked him for not being the good feminist she thought he should be, but that's a whole other subject, right?

There's a lot of Right stuff that's so wrong, not least for being Right in the eyes (and ears) of those for whom perfection, or correctness, are defined by a strict set of guidelines laid down long ago by so-called experts. Which is not to say that many things made by the rules are not very Right. They are. But down that particular wormhole we fall so deep as to be trapped, forever longing for a certain kind of Right, finding it sometimes, but allowing the walls of 'correctness' to keep us there forever. You see? Maybe you don't...

...those walls (bars) make us feel safe...they define the limits, therefore relieving us of the need to find our own and in a fit of wayward free-thinking possibly even conclude that there needn't be any. That takes some doing...after all, what if you freed your mind but contrary to what Funkadelic insisted would happen, your ass did not follow? What would you do then? Perhaps you'd spend the rest of your days only sat on your ass because you'd abandoned the rigid formulas of all great booty music, from Swing to ------------ (insert your own beloved modern dance music) in favour of cerebral sounds. That would be wrong. I did have to tell a few cerebral types (you know, clever ones who studied at uni and everything) how to dance to Drum 'n' Bass - I ain't lying. I freed their asses...

Wrong stuff that's right can only be appreciated if you get the idea/concept/aesthetic (dare I say). And Kid Shirt's so right when he mentions 'glitch' as a bad example, just another easy genre, all bound up in a definite sound. There are probably courses in Glitch Art, these days...I'm sure there are, filled with brainiac computer geeks programming themselves into the Art World by creating clever codes. I might like the results more than most painterly efforts or, Coltrane forgive, Digital Art, but still it nags me that the results are the result of programming. Just like the pre-set analogue era nostalgia button on modern kit, which may or may not exist, I don't know, I've never tried to make music, or taken an interest in the gear used today. My efforts to learn the bass guitar in 1977 lasted one (lunch) hour but I wish I'd persisted because I'm sure I would have gone on to make the most fucked-up Punk racket imaginable...and hopefully never bothered to learn more, to progress...

My art-not-art is made by using the crudest possible methods. I hope it shows...or sometimes I hope I fool people (non-artists) into thinking I've gone and done something sophisticated...ha-ha! That's unlikely as far as many are concerned, but it's easy to be enthralled by what appears to be cleverness when you don't have a clue how it's done. Talent shows prove this. "Oh my god! She's got an ama-zing voice!". Which usually means she can sing in tune and can't stop with the melisma, a trick which only impresses the cloth-eared non-singers. I don't need to tell you that muso tendencies, or devotees, the oh-so-technical ones, have turned out the most boring music ever made. Note, that's boring, as opposed to irritating, which defines 90% of all music, from the whining psuedo-Folkist to the Pop tarts and all the crud in between.

It's not about High or Lowbrow (that ol' chestnut, which resulted in a lot of fools championing shite in the 80s just to show that they 'got' Pop). I know, let's throw Bach out the window in favour of Bachman Turner Overdrive! No more guilty pleasures! By whose standards are they 'guilty'? Not the fun-lovers who packed the club of the same name to make it so successful. To feel 'guilty' you have to have higher standards to start with, then confess.

Highbrow doesn't cut it. Never has. Weren't the irate folkniks who booed Bob for going electric at Newport in '65 so sure they had refined taste (albeit reverse snobbery for po' folk making music on porches)? How could the old tweedy set (those stuffy intellectuals of long ago who no doubt still exist today in another guise) get anything that wasn't Classical? The progressive ones perhaps went for Jazz. Ah, Jazz, now that's produced a lot of Wrong 'uns in its time. Was Thelonious Monk joking with that stuff? As for Cecil Taylor and his wobbly rail - awful! Ornette Coleman couldn't play. And those dirty be-boppers. Even the formula beloved by Traditionalists was once thought to be totally unwholesome, if not musically, then for the simple reason of who was making all that Jazz. The natives were getting restless...

So it goes. Duchamp's readymades - wrong! Abstraction - wrong! Pollock - wrong! You know what I mean. All that oh-so-right Wrongness in culture. Stravinsky, Schoenberg, James Joyce, William Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Jean-Luc Godard etc  - very wrong!

Before The Rules of all things were written there was freedom, but since nobody was around to see the results except for locals, it didn't matter. It's not that I hate critics, you understand. Without them, well, the rest is mere PR. Besides, they've always disagreed, which is a good thing. Nowadays we're all our own critic and how. We can skip through an album in seconds and know it's good, bad or average, right? Knees jerk all 'round the world. It's a complex/difficult/uneasy/indefinable sound that doesn't make sense in five-second sound bites...so...next! Not that it hasn't always been the case. It's just that today there's so much stuff, there's always something else and the mouse-clicking tic takes us away in search of the fast food fix we've become addicted to through technical means, even those of us that used to buy LPs, one a week, even.

The right kind of Wrong has that thing about it, that feeling of...something...the mark of the individual scrawling on the wall, you know? Yes, that fool who thinks she has the right to make a noise/vision, even though she's isn't properly qualified. No, not that one who tries to fit into the specific genre, that one, over there...unseen, virtually ignored, almost totally alone and so small in the grand scheme of mainstream (relative) media coverage/recognition. Her. The maker of little publications, little records (perhaps digital only)...the one making art which only a few (virtual) friends get to see and if they're lucky dish out a few 'likes'.

Art Brut lives on, in many forms. The raw product, the untutored eye and ear just doing it. They're crazy! Don't they know that the reason for doing it is to make money? To achieve some kind of success? Why do they bother if not in the name of ambition? That's the ambition to reach goals set by society, of course, not the loose definition regarding merely making something they're pleased with. Not that.

Well, here's to all the Wrong stuff, the stuff that irritates and confuses 'them'; the stuff that confounds their expectations of how anything should look or sound.




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