Thursday, 5 April 2012

Edgar Varèse Vinyl Find

No luck looking for books today but I did find this, or rather, the shop assistant handed it to me whilst I berated him (in an amiable manner) for not organising all the classical albums into centuries, at least - to which he replied that they used to be alphabetical but people moved them around, and that I was quite welcome to work at the task as a volunteer - 'We're all just volunteers', he said - 'Yes, I know.' I replied. 'What are you interested in?' He asked.
   'Twentieth century composers.'
   'Ah, that's not to my taste.'
   I couldn't blame him. After all, who wants to listen to a load of discordant orchestration?
But he did have two albums in his hands that he was just about to put in the 'New Arrivals' section, and this was one of them - £1.99 - near mint condition - and what a sleeve - so despite already owning all of Edgar Varèse's work, which is no great boast because it fits on a double CD, I couldn't resist this vinyl from 1971.

I used to play 'Ionisation' as a DJ at a place called Bartok - oh yes, call me crazy, but the brief was to play 'classical' music - although I doubt that Varèse was the type of composer they had in mind. I'd mix it with ambient electronic stuff - that's how radical I was. And a few years later it became fashionable, for five minutes, to have DJs playing classical music at trendy events, none of which I was ever hired for, thankfully, because despite probably having been paid handsomely the thought of music like this being a fashionable flavour for the chic London set makes me feel sick.

I guess Varèse would make a few listeners feel nauseous as his grand orchestral constructions and percussive thunder battered their ears. Frank Zappa was mad on him - and Henry Miller called him 'the stratospheric Colossus of Sound'. Varèse was going to work with text by Miller but the idea never came to fruition. The thought of Miller's juiciest writing combined with music like this is mind-blowing. Not that they would have chosen anything so outrageous as prose littered with the 'c' word. And I don't mean 'classical'.


  1. a varese with one of my favourite paintings (Mondrian's Broadway boogie-Woogie' if i'm not mistaken) on the sleeve?!? sexy!


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