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Archive for the ‘Recordings’ Category

I first became interested in synthesizers and electronic music in the late ’70’s through the music of Pere Ubu (US) and Cabaret Voltaire (UK).  Somewhere around 79- ’80 I decided I wanted to have my own synthesizer, inspired by albums like “Dub Housing” (Pere Ubu) and “Mix Up” (Cabaret Voltaire). Especially the weird sounds created by Allen Ravenstine on Pere Ubu records motivated me to start playing synthesizer (besides guitar) . These sounds were made by a modular EML synthesizer. I couldn’t afford an EML however, so I went for the Japanese budget alternative: a semi modular Korg MS-20, which I still own and play today.

Allen Ravenstine was part of Pere Ubu until the end of the ’80s. The modular EML synthesizer remained a basic ingredient of the Pere Ubu sound up until today, played by Robert Wheeler and others. I recently stumbled upon this video of a EML synthesizer jam session by Allen Ravenstine and Robert Wheeler, apparently the first time these Pere Ubu players ever played together. The video contains some interesting  interview fragments in which Allen Ravenstine explains how the EML synthesizer became part of the unique Pere Ubu sound:

Allen Ravenstine and Robert Wheeler EML synth session.

The video fragment seems to be part of an upcoming  film about modular synthesizers and their players. This is the text accompanying the video:

In late February, 2012, former Pere Ubu synthesist Allen Ravenstine and current Pere Ubu synthesist Robert Wheeler, two legendary figures of Cleveland’s punk rock scene met at Grant Avenue Studio to discuss and demonstrate the EML modular synthesizers that have been an integral part of the Pere Ubu sound for almost 40 years. The interviews are part of the upcoming film: “I Dream of Wires: The Modular Synthesizer Documentary”.  I DREAM OF WIRES interview segments are sponsored by MATRIXSYNTH (matrixsynth.com/).

Today I stumbled upon http://www.holgerhiller.com, the site of (you guessed it..) Holger Hiller.
I have followed Holger Hiller’s work from his days with the ground breaking “‘Neue Welle” band Palais Schaumburg in the early ’80s:

His debut solo album “Ein Bündel Fäulnis in der Grube” and especially his second album “Oben im Eck” belong to my favorite albums of all time.
They too were ground breaking, this time in the creative use of sampling to create whirling idiosyncratic songs and compositions.

In these Biography of A Song video’s some of the magic behind the  “Oben im Eck” album is explained by Holger Hiller :

 

 

 

However, after the self entitled “”Holger Hiller” album in 2000, nothing was heard anymore of Holger Hiller. According to the bio on his site, he was “going through (a) financial and personal crisis” from 2001 to 2009 and had a long creative break.

Now he seems to be composing again, this time in a collaboration with well known German painter Albert Oehlen, another survivor from the ’80s.
See the page “Joint works with Albert Oehlen” in the News section of his site. The works consist of nine single-edition prints by Albert Oehlen, each juxtaposed and framed with a vinyl record of material specially composed by Hiller. This material is instantly recognizable as Holger Hiller “samplism” if you play the excerpts on the page. A complete recording of the 9 compositions doesn’t seem to be available online or offline. Maybe Hiller’s old record company Mute can release this new stuff, please?

See:

Some 20 years ago I bought an obscure Philips/Harlekijn LP containing the famous Ballet Mecanique by George Antheil.  In 1924 Antheil worked with Fernand Leger on a DaDa inspired abstract film called “Ballet Mecanique”. The music for this film was to come from electric bells, tree airplane propellers, a siren and piano rolls in 16 player pianos linked to a central control panel. However, the technology to realize this “central control panel” to synchronize all these player pianos was yet not available in 1924, so Legers film and Antheil’s score went their separate ways. The Ballet Mecanique score was technologically so ahead of its time, that it could not be performed in the way it was conceived in the 1920’s.

To resolve this issue, Antheil prepared a new reduced version of the piece for eight pianos, one player piano, four xylophones, percussion and two airplane propellers. This drastically simplified score was presented to audiences in 1926 and 1927 in Paris and New York. The work was never published in its original form. In 1953 a heavily cut version of Ballet Mecanique was published by George Antheil which featured only four pianos. This is the score of which a live version played during the 1976 Holland Festival was recorded for the above mentioned Harlekijn LP.

Bad Boy Made Good DVD

Last year I stumbled across a DVD called “Bad Boy made Good. The Revival of George Antheil’s 1924 Ballet Mecanique” on the antheil.org web site. The DVD documents a revival of the original orchestration of Antheil’s magnus opus using the 16 player pianos for which the piece was originally intended. Using MIDI technology to control the 16 player pianos (for which now Yamaha Disklaviers were used), it was now possible to synchronize the pianos in the way Antheil originally intended in 1924. The DVD documents the preparation and the world premiere of this original version of the Ballet Mecanique in the Concert Hall of the University of Massachusetts in Lowell on November 18, 1999. It also contains the Léger film with the newly realized 16-player-piano version of Antheil’s score.

World premiere by UMass Lowell Percussion Ensemble

The MIDI controlled piece was subsequently performed in many concert halls in the USA and Europe, a complete list of performances and DVD ordering info can be found on the informative Ballet Mecanique page/antheil.org web site which accompanies the DVD. Check it out if you are interested in the early history of  “noise music”.

I watched a Chris Cunningham VJ performance at the last STRP Festival and wasn’t that impressed by it. Thought it was too much of a paste-up of older music video’s, a bit like the trailer below:

But today I accidentally stumbled across this video annex remix of a Gil Scott-Heron song (remember “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised“?) on his website and this really is impressive, both as a 6 minute video and a song. This remix is actually telling a story, instead of just being a sequence of random image and sound fragments.
Apparently this “New York is Killing Me” video/remix was shown on 3 screens in the MOMA somewhere in September, 2010 as part of the PopRally program.

Check out:

Check this out: the YouTube channel of French electronic noise duo Zn’shn:

This is a video fragment of one of their Tokyo performances, watch the inevitable Korg Kaossilator and the cool King Capital Punishment noise synths!

YouTube – see znshn Youtube channel.

See also Elvire Bastendorff’s blog and the Zn’shn blog on Blogspot.


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