Tony Oxley born 75 years ago, in 15th June 1928. Because in this show I present the following musics.
Tony Oxley – Ichnos
It’s the third of Oxley’s recording. Includings solo-, quartet-, and sextet improvisations. There is just one track, Oryane, which is solo improvisation. This piece for drums, cymbals, metal and wood surfaces, metal strings both acoustic and amplified. They are played with metal sticks and bowed. There are no recording techniques used in this piece other than the placing of microphones around the kit.
1. Tony Oxley – Ichnos (1971, LP, RCA Victor – SF8215)
A2. Oryane (Percussion Solo)
Tony Oxley – Tony Oxley
Recorded over a four year period (1971-75), these tracks illustrate the evolutionary development of Tony Oxley’s music, and particularly his percussion vocabulary. Amplification has played a large part in this development, giving breadth to the instrument, and allowing a reconsideration of the role of percussion in relation to improvised and structured music.
Cover drawing by Alan Davie.
2. Tony Oxley – Tony Oxley (1975, LP, Incus Records – 08)
A3. EIROC II
B1. East Of Sheffield
B2. South East Of Sheffield
Alexander von Schlippenbach & Tony Oxley – Digger’s Harvest
Curiously, Alexander von Schlippenbach is one first-generation European free improviser not receiving regular huzzahs by an increasingly cognizant U.S. press. Maybe it’s due to the pianist’s infrequent trips Stateside, or that he doesn’t have CDs hitting the market by the dozens each year. Digger’s Harvest is, then, a timely reminder of Schlippenbach’s many achievements and how, as he approaches the 40-year mark of his landmark work Globe Unity (which spawned the great orchestra of the same name), Schlippenbach continues to create compelling music.
Schlippenbach has a penchant for a tightly-coiled bluesiness that is especially well-aired on Digger’s Harvest, a duo exchange with percussionist Tony Oxley.
One of the few of the intense avant-garde jazz pianists to develop a style largely free of Cecil Taylor’s influence, Schlippenbach has mellowed only slightly with age. These seven duos find both of these marvelous musicians in fine form, the energy level rarely abating. Schlippenbach is far from all crash and burn, however, as he slips in clips from by gone eras along his journeys. He can be introspective, too, when he focuses on sound and timbre.
Like Lovens, Oxley pioneered the use of metal, wood and other materials to extend the timbral palette of a traditional traps and cymbals configuration, but Oxley’s playing has a more palpable linkage to such ’60s drum icons as Milford Graves.
Oxley’s extensive experience interacting with Taylor pays off, as he follows Schlippenbach closely, never letting him stray too far.
Given Schlippenbach and Oxley’s respective histories-they both ventured into free playing at about the same time and have many mutual collaborators-it’s odd that they hadn’t previously worked as a duo. It proves to be an excellent match, though. Oxley’s brand of rhythmic flow is essential to the two nearly half-hour improvisations that bookend the program. Schlippenbach responds with torrential runs that whiplash up and down the keyboard. Conversely, on the five shorter pieces, Schlippenbach’s sharply focused approach to developing concentrated thematic materials elicits a more augmentative approach from Oxley. It’s this give and take that makes Digger’s Harvest such an engaging recording.
3. Alexander von Schlippenbach & Tony Oxley – Digger’s Harvest (1999, CD, FMP – FMP CD 103)
7. Digger’s Harvest
Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley – Soho Suites – Recordings From 1977 & 1995
This double-CD collection is meant to show a continuum of sorts in a collaboration that began in 1963. Guitarist Derek Bailey and drummer Tony Oxley met by chance in their hometown at that time, and formed a band with Gavin Bryars (a bass player back in those days) for the purpose of freely improvising music. Bailey and Oxley played together in various contexts and continue to this day. Featured here is a rehearsal from 1977 on one disc, along with a live disc recorded in New York in 1995. To play these CDs in sequence is quite remarkable. For those who have followed the careers of both men over the decades, it will be astonishing to hear what has been taken for granted in the development not only of their individual styles and approaches to improvisation, but in the actual evolution of those methods as they reach deeper into the musical muck for a kind of meaning that can only be generated in this type of musical pursuit. On the earlier record, there are Bailey’s very short but very quick explosions of notes from all over the fretboard that get interrupted by his going into the instrument itself. Oxley, a busy drummer, uses percussion instruments while playing the kit, making sure he misses none of the notes Bailey drops from his guitar like small bombs. On the later music from 1995, there is a shift in focus. The explorations of tonal boundaries are much more pronounced, percussive extensions become common, and there is almost an architecture in the dynamic. Bailey has moved to using more chords of his own design, while Oxley keeps to the kit more, exploring its wood and metal as a manner of underscoring these spacious, textured explorations. This is an awesome set, so strong it’s better than 90 percent of what’s out there passing for free improvisation.
4. Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley – Soho Suites – Recordings From 1977 & 1995 (1997, 2 x CD, Incus Records – CD29/30) CD1
5. Derek Bailey and Tony Oxley – Soho Suites – Recordings From 1977 & 1995 (1997, 2 x CD, Incus Records – CD29/30) CD2
Tony Oxley (born 15 June 1938) is an English drummer, composer, painter, and one of the founders of Incus Records.
Tony Oxley is arguably one of the most significant British drummer of the latter half of the twentieth century. He created a style of improvised drumming, virtually from whole cloth, that has had a tremendous impact on three generations of jazz players. He developed a drum/percussion kit uniquely suited to his personal mode of playing, and in the early 1970s, became the first drummer to actively utilize electronic resources to modify the sound of his instrument. As co-founder of the Musicians Cooperative and Incus record label, he helped put the British improvised music scene on firmer ground. He has performed with a wide range of musicians, from traditional tenor players such as Ben Webster and Eddie Lockjaw Davis, to piano pioneers Paul Bley and Bill Evans, and musicians Cecil Taylor and Derek Bailey.
Tony Oxley was born in Sheffield, England. A self-taught pianist by the age of eight, he first began playing the drums at seventeen. In Sheffield he was taught by well respected local drummer Haydon Cook, who had returned to the city after a long residency, in the 1950s, at Ronnie Scott’s in London. From 1957 to 1960, after he was drafted into the British army, he became a percussionist in the the Black Watch military orchestra. While serving, Oxley studied music theory and he did more than just develop his classical chops performing works by Beethoven, Mozart, and Dvorak. He was also able to travel to the United States where he heard jazz greats, such as Art Blakey, Horace Silver, and Philly Joe Jones in concert.
Those jazz experiences in America were decisive for Oxley. By the time he left the service, he had made up his mind not to play other people’s music any longer. Back home in Sheffield, he formed a jazz combo which he led for three years. In 1963, he had another decisive encounter: he met guitarist Derek Bailey who was living just around the corner. “A once in a century coincidence,” was how Oxley described the meeting to Bert Noglik in Jazz-Werkstatt International. With bassist Gavin Bryars, they formed a trio called Joseph Holbrooke named after a long-deceased British composer. The group started out playing jazz standards, but quickly evolved into other kinds of music, fueled by the interests of the members. Bryars was interested in avant-garde classical composers such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, Christian Wolf, and Olivier Messiaen; Oxley was interested in the more radical players in contemporary jazz—John Coltrane, Albert Ayler, and Cecil Taylor, among others.
“From 1963-66 we moved away from the diatonic system to the chromatic system, forging a profound interest in Anton Webern and John Cage. It was a period of learning, of taming oneself, of discovering other ways of music-making.” – Oxley described to Harris Eisenstadt in Coda  about his work with Holbrooke. They were particularly fascinated by Webern’s music. They had no particular use for Webern’s methods, but they tried to translate his sound into their music. Free improvisation—which Oxley would later term European Improvised Music—was the bridge the group built between these extremes. It was music virtually unknown in England—or elsewhere in Europe—at the time. For Oxley and Bailey, it evolved sui generis in the course of Joseph Holbrooke’s playing.
In 1967, Oxley moved to London. Before long he had established himself as the house drummer at one of the city’s most popular jazz clubs, Ronnie Scott’s. Oxley had already moved beyond traditional jazz in his own music. But he enjoyed performing with the players who had helped invent jazz, legends such as Ben Webster, Davis, Joe Hendeson, Stan Getz, and Evans. In John Wickes’ Innovations in British Jazz, John Fordham described Oxley’s “traditional” drum style: “He would embroider the basic time in clusters of jostling beats, but still remember in some metronomic circuit in the depths of his brain exactly where the beat was, and come back to it at intervals with an emphatic crash that seemed to say ’told you so.’ He would frequently unsettle soloists, or lose them altogether.” Evans, however, was taken with Oxley’s drumming and more than once tried to persuade him to join his trio.
In the mid 1960s, a group of hardcore improvisers including Oxley, Bailey, saxophonist Evan Parker, bassist/composer Barry Guy, pianist Howard Riley, trombonist Paul Rutherford, and drummer Paul Lytton, had come together and were performing together regularly in London. Their music was quickly moving away from anything resembling jazz, fostering hostility in the British music press and at record companies.
Howard Riley Trio – Cirrus Live French TV 1972
However, Oxley’s work at Ronnie Scott’s, where he played regularly until the early 1970s, had given Oxley a solid reputation as jazz drummer—however outside the jazz standard he was interested in playing. In 1969, after he performed on John McLaughlin’s first LP, Extrapolation, he was offered a recording contract by CBS. The first recording, The Baptised Traveller,featured members of another group, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble: Parker, Bailey, Kenny Wheeler on trumpet, and Jeff Clyne on bass. The results sound at times like an elegy to the jazz they were all leaving behind. Oxley’s next record for CBS, Four Compositions For Sextet, added Paul Rutherford’s trombone.
By the early 1970s, Oxley was doing well for a performing musician. He had regular work at Ronnie Scott’s, which brought him popularity, and he was recording regularly. Despite Oxley’s success, however, improvised music was suffering in Britain. Venues were shutting down or booking only the most traditional jazz acts; the music was be littled by the general music press and record labels simply ignored it completely. In 1970, Oxley co-founded the Musicians Cooperative with Bailey, Parker and several other musicians. The group’s purpose was to help the musicians help themselves and it was almost immediately able to secure grant money for the group from the local arts council.
At Oxley’s suggestion, Incus Records, an independent artist-owned record label, was founded. “I proposed to Derek Bailey that maybe we should have a company of our own. Whilst I was being recorded, there were important developments and musicians who were not. A friend of mine, Mike Walters, provided the money and didn’t want to be involved with running the company, so Derek suggested Evan Parker.” With Incus, musicians were finally in a position to document their music, and to have a measure of control over its release and distribution.
By the time he started recording for CBS, Oxley was beginning to realize that the traditional drum kit, made up primarily of snare, toms, and cymbals—even as he had expanded with unusual noise-making devices— was not adequate for reproducing the music he was hearing in his head. He started to experiment with various forms of amplification and electronic devices such as ring modulators to alter the sounds he made. Using the electronics on the drums themselves didn’t interest him as much as using them on the foreign objects he had incorporated into the kit: bowls, pieces of wire, screws, and other metal objects that were able to create a wide range of pure sounds.
“On my record February Papers, for example, there’s a piece of mine you can hear that came about from amplifying electronically drawing a bow across the blade of a knife. It is unbelievable what kind of sound possibilities you can find in a little piece of metal.” – Oxley told Noglik. His first electronic work appeared on his first LP for RCA, Ichnos, which Oxley thought was his best of that period. Surprisingly, few drummers in improv, jazz, rock, or other music have picked up on Oxley’s experiments with electronic modification of percussion.
However, Oxley’s electronic drumming did come to the attention of Martin Wesley Smith, the head of the electronic music department at the Sydney Conservatorium in Australia. Smith arranged a three-month-long artist-in-residence position for the drummer.”I think what probably interested him was my approach. As professional electronic composers require a large desk of treatment possibilities I had the idea to cut this down to a minimum in order to improvise. I also constantly changed my sound source. I could quite easily move my equipment to any situation.”
In the early 1970s, Oxley met Alan Davie, a painter who would have a profound impact on Oxley’s artistic life. Davie phoned Oxley to ask if he, Paul Rutherford, and Evan Parker were interested in performing at a gallery where Davie had an exhibit. When Oxley accepted, he discovered that Davie was profoundly interested in music, and often performed on an array of instruments. They began meeting regularly at Davie’s home where they performed together and recorded their music.”Besides Bailey, Davie is one of the people that I owe the most to for my musical development. As a musician, Alan Davie doesn’t start from either classical music or jazz. He looked for his own path very singlemindedly and found it.” In 1974, Davie gave Oxley a violin. Oxley quickly discovered the rhythmic possibilities in the instrument, and has since had an abiding interest in working with string ensembles of all kinds.
In 1978, Oxley formed the Celebration Orchestra, an under-documented big band that played on and off until well into the 1990s. His compositions for the group were as adventurous as anything else he has done. They have called for Scottish pipe and drum band, three prepared pianos, a pre-recorded tape of a steel factory, and electronics, along with the more or less regular orchestra line-up of brass, piano, strings, voice and, of course, Oxley’s drums.
The 1980s and 1990s saw Oxley performing with a number of important European and American improvisers, including Peter Brotzmann, Phil Minton, Phil Wachsmann, Anthony Braxton, Paul Bley, and Alexander von Schlippenbach. A particularly fruitful collaboration began when Oxley first performed with Cecil Taylor. Oxley played with Taylor in a number of settings during the pianist’s epochal stay in Berlin during the summer of 1988: as a duo, with William Parker in the Feel Trio, and in the 17-piece Cecil Taylor European Orchestra. Taylor subsequently introduced Oxley to American trumpeter Bill Dixon, which set another productive collaboration in motion.
Since Oxley and Bailey began making their individual music in the early 1960s, people have asked,”Yes, but is it jazz?” Oxley prefers to call what he does”improvised music.” But by and large he finds the entire question to be academic and uninteresting. He is grateful to American jazz of the 1950s for leading him to improvisation, but he has moved far beyond the music he was playing in Sheffield and at Ronnie Scott’s club in London. He does see his musical role as very different from that played by jazz drummers.”I consider myself more a percussionist, in contrast to a jazz drummer who keeps time. In the new improvised music, a percussionist can interrupt the flow of his playing without affecting the nature of his relationship to the other players.”
3. NO WAVE EST (3RD NO WAVE EVENING) – TILOS MARATON 2013
On the 9th of June the “No Wave” evening, the section of Tilos Maraton 2013, will be held the third time. Who knows the probably oldest radio show of Tilos Rádio, should also know what to expect. Who doesn’t know it, there is the possibility to try it. Essentially, the performers, who are not interested the audience’s expectations and who are not concerned with the conventional music forms, present their momentary or chronic thoughts about music, or rather that they can show or perform of these. In this year I tried to widen the music’s spectrum, therefore I invited musicians from other kinds of music world. More of them are internationally noted musicians, some of them perhaps are at the beginning of their career. It is sure, all of them are searching continously the newer soundings and music utterances.
IMPORTANTS! Who can not come to the concert , they can listen the live stream in the No Wave” show of Tilos Rádió from 22:00.
Curator: Pál Tóth, the editor of Tilos Rádió’s “No Wave” show.
Péter Homoki (dj Sztyepp) is a fellow worker of Tilos Rádió and one of Úzgin Űver‘s musicians, he gives an improvising solo concert, and he guides the audience to the strange spaces by his guitar and many pedals.
21:00 én – „op. 130609” (electronics, CD players, objects, contact microphones, „silence”)
In this current piece, én, his own way, tries to remain on the quiet “the not quite suitable space”. Of course, you can listen the sounds of his regular arsenal. If you are also silently, you can listen the SILENCE. And it should happen otherwise. In this case the walls and the windows should shake. én is a sound artist and radio producer. He was the program editor of the illegal community radio of Budapest, Tilos Rádió (Forbidden Radio) from 1993–94 and then a member of the legal Tilos Rádió in 1995, where he edits programs for today’s experimental, electroacoustic and underground music developments in his show No Wave. His compositions – which are often situated at the limit of hearing – draw on the results of concrete music, plunderphonics and sound-formation as well as sound art. én chooses sound samples from his own collection and environmental sounds which he recorded himself, and sounds made by himself on computer in order to compose, and so finally and successfully eliminates the unnecessary separations of composition and the preparation of music, the broadcast of music and musical performance.
22:00 GERGELY KOVÁCS / MIROSLAV TÓTH (SK) – „DUO CONCERT” (drums, percussions, objects / saxophons)
Kovács Gergely was first influenced by rock/metal, but jazz soon became his »music«. He got his first drum set when he was 16 and joined a garage band in his village. He was inspired by the album “ZU & Spaceways Inc.” to explore music further. His thesis in his final year at university was on: “The communication features of twentieth-century classical music, from Satie to Cage”. Miroslav Tóth (SK) composer, saxophone player, lives in Bratislava and Gabčíkovo. He is the founder and artistic leader of audivisual project Frutti di Mare, improvise chamber orchestra Musica Falsa et Ficta, Dunkeltherapie and a member of other experimental music projects (Shibuya Motors). In his music he is interested in both composition and improvisation, often crossing the borders between the genre and style contexts, ranging from free improvisation to noise and contemporary classical music.
The drummer Balázs Pándi worked with various acts from all around the world including Venetian Snares, Otto Von Schirach (under the alias 666 Cent), Last Step, To Live and Shave in L.A., The Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble and Zu. Since 2009 he is the live drummer of Merzbow, they also made three live records together. Pándi started electronica-metal-breakcore project with Bong-Ra called Wormskull in 2010. His current projects include Italian doom band Obake, Metallic Taste of Blood (featuring Colin Edwin of Porcupine Tree, Eraldo Bernocchi of Obake and Jamie Saft). From 2012 he started to play solo shows on selected festivals under his own name. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balázs_Pándi
Sőrés Zsolt is an an improvised/electroacoustic and noise musician (performing with 5 string viola and various sound sources), as well as a sound artist. His music is characterised by different formation strategies and immediate transitions, the use of unstable acoustic systems and continuous sound layers, and unique electronic instruments (circuit bent toys, crackle box, home-made oscillators, lo-fi systems, resonating objects etc.).Within the last 20 years he has performed with many improvised, free jazz and experimental musicians and composers around the world. Currently he is involved in many projects, including a trio with Franz Hautzinger and Isabelle Duthoit, a duo with Jean-Hervé Péron Art-Errorist (from the legendary krautrock band Faust), duo with Hilary Jeffery (from the Kilimanjaro Darkjazz Ensemble), IBelongtotheBand (with AdamBohman,OliMayne and Jean-Michel Van Schouwburg), Noise Flowers (with Oli Mayne and András Wahorn), duo with én, and the Spiritus Noister (KatalinLadik and Endre Szkárosi). From 1996 to 2002 he was one of the artistic director of the Pause-Sign Festival, and from 2008 to 2010 he curated the Relative (Cross)Hearings International Contemporary Music Meeting in Budapest. In 2012 he was the Hungarian curator of the international Sound Exchange project, a special research project investigatingthe long traditions of experimental music cultures in Central and Eastern Europe. http://inaplo.hu/ahad/
Maryanne Amacher born 75 years ago, in 25th February 1938. Because in this show I present the following musics.
Various Artists – Music For Merce 1952-2009 (10 x CD Box set)
The late Merce Cunningham was renowned for his legendary collaborations with the most significant experimental musicians of the late 20th century. Particularly notable is his association with John Cage, who served as the founding musical director of the Merce Cunningham Dance Company until Cage’s death in 1992. Spanning six decades from the early 1950s onward, these recordings capture the breadth of the Cunningham repertory and the rich diversity of Cunningham’s musical collaborations. Composers whose work features prominently in this collection include seminal figures of late-20th-century experimental music such as John Cage, David Tudor, Gordon Mumma, Christian Wolff, and Takehisa Kosugi, among others (for example Maryanne Amacher). For the most part, these compositions have not been recorded elsewhere and are making their first appearance on CD.
Maryanne Amacher – Sound Characters 2 (Making Sonic Spaces)
Maryanne Amacher was a composer who was not concerned with conventional musical form, instrumentation, and the size of forces or her place in the grander Western musical hierarchy.
Although she was known to use the bows made for producing sounds on stringed instruments, Amacher generally did not use them to produce sounds from an instrument so much as ordinary household instruments, rocks, buildings, almost anything else. Whatever method through which she made her sounds, and conversely, whatever sounds she happened to produce, Amacher took it back to the lab and treated it, digitally or otherwise, often magnifying sound many, many times. Amacher’s compositions were not designed to fill a concert hall, but whole structures such as buildings or houses, or sculpture; often her pieces were louder than anything conventionally musical that one can imagine, louder seemingly than an arena rock concert. Given the extremes of Amacher’s music, one can imagine that a mere recording was at best a poor substitute for experiencing one of Amacher’s installations in person; sort of like trying to contain a hurricane in a can, and for a long time Amacher herself dismissed any proposal toward releasing her music in recorded form.
However, since 1999 John Zorn’s Tzadik label, and a few others since, has been willing to try, and Tzadik’s Maryanne Amacher: Sound Characters 2 consists of a single work in four parts, Teo! (2004). This was created for an installation at the Palace de las Bellas Artes in Mexico City, though the sounds were collected down in the bowels of the Pyramid of the Sun in Teotihuacan, in four caves on which it is now believed the pyramid was deliberately built.
Amacher’s main musical instrument in this environment was a bundt pan. Running out of oxygen in this rarefied place — Amacher was working alongside a crew of 21 physicists who were installing sensors in the ancient caves — Amacher found herself playing the walls of the cave in order to produce the resonance she needed for the finished work. Teo! is an extraordinary work, as well; its first part begins with low hums interrupted by a loud scraping sound that takes the listener totally off guard, and the last consists of a hypnotic, rhythmic pulsation that at first is a tad repellent by being rather hard on the ears, but eventually draws one in; once inside, you can’t tear yourself away from it. Amacher’s music had a constant sense of darkness lurking in the background, much like the environment in which it was created. Whereas so much Western music is concerned with bringing light to the darkness of the world, in this piece, Amacher brought the darkness to the brightly lit Palace de las Bellas Artes. This is in keeping with the mythos of pre-Columbian Mexican civilizations, who believed that caves served as an entryway to other realms of existence and not merely fissures deep within the earth’s crust. And that’s the nature of this journey; like Mammoth Cave in Kentucky, if you’re uncomfortable with extremes of temperature, wayward moisture, or tight, cramped spaces, you ought not to go down there
It is what it is, and you’re more likely to have a good time if you invite the adventure and its discomforts. For those who would dare take this trip with Amacher — now that’s she’s gone and can no longer install her music into the spaces that best suit it — invaluable recordings such as Tzadik’s Maryanne Amacher: Sound Characters 2 serves as the only medium through which they can join her.
Maryanne Amacher – Sound Characters (Making The Third Ear)
The “Making the Third Ear” part of the title refers to the phenomenon that listeners experience when listening to Maryanne Amacher’s compositions — played at the right volume, sounds seem to emit from within the listener’s head! Even though these works were written for installations in specific spaces, and not for recording, the “third ear” still happens (but not with headphones). The included pieces range from a rather comforting wash of tones (“Synaptic Island”) to boggling, bleeping loops (“Dense Boogie 1”), and are, necessarily, often excerpts of longer works.
Can was a German experimental rock band formed in Cologne, West Germany in 1968. Later labeled as one of the first krautrock groups, they transcended mainstream influences and incorporated strong minimalist and world music elements into their often psychedelic music.
Can constructed their music largely through collective spontaneous composition –– which the band differentiated from improvisation in the jazz sense. Holger Czukay referred to Can’s live and studio performances as “instant compositions”. They had occasional commercial success, with singles such as “Spoon” and “I Want More” reaching national singles charts. Through albums such as Monster Movie (1969), Tago Mago (1971), Ege Bamyasi (1972) and Future Days (1973), the band exerted a considerable influence on avant-garde, experimental, underground, ambient, new wave and electronic music.
The roots of Can can be traced back to Irmin Schmidt and a trip that he made to New York City in 1968. While Schmidt initially spent his time with avant-garde musicians such as Steve Reich, La Monte Young and Terry Riley, he was also eventually exposed to the world of Andy Warhol, Hotel Chelsea and, The Velvet Underground. In his own words, the trip “corrupted” him, sparking a fascination with the possibilities of rock music. Upon his return to Cologne later that year, an inspired Schmidt formed a group with American avant-garde composer and flautist David C. Johnson and music teacher Holger Czukay with the intention of exploring his newly broadened horizons.
The Hotel Chelsea is a historic New York City hotel and landmark, known primarily for its history of notable residents, which has been the home of numerous writers, musicians, artists, and actors. Schmidt said in a 2004 interview: “When I founded the group I was a classical composer and conductor and pianist making piano recitals, playing a lot of contemporary music but also Brahms, Chopin and Beethoven and everything. And when we got together I wanted to do something in which all contemporary music becomes one thing. Contemporary music in Europe especially, the new music was classical music was Boulez, Stockhausen and all that. I studied all that, I studied Stockhausen but nobody talked about rock music like Sly Stone, James Brown or the Velvet Underground as being contemporary music. Then there was jazz and all these elements were our contemporary music, it was new. It was, in a way, much newer than the new classical music which claimed to be ‘the new music’.”
Up to that point, the inclinations of all three musicians had been exclusively avant-garde classical. Schmidt chose to play organ and piano, while Czukay played bass and was able to record their music with a basic two-track tape machine. The group was soon fleshed out by with guitarist Michael Karoli, a 19-year-old pupil of Czukay, and drummer Jaki Liebezeit. Can was ahead of its time in a number of ways. Czukay and Schmidt had studied with Stockhausen, and Schmidt had also performed and conducted works by Cage, Feldman and Gorecki. Drummer Jaki Liebezeit free-jazz hátterű had a free-jazz background and had played with Chet Baker and Manfred Schoof, and guitarist Michael Karoli had studied Gypsy music and served time in dance bands. Their varied backgrounds, their dedication to experimentation and their mutual ignorance about rock music allowed them to develop a beautifully unclichéd sound, one that treated drums and bass with inordinate respect. As the group developed a more rock-oriented sound, a disappointed Johnson left the group at the end of 1968.
The band used the names “Inner Space” and “The Can” before finally settling on “CAN”. In mid-1968, the band enlisted the creative, highly rhythmic, but unstable and often confrontational American vocalist Malcolm Mooney, a New York-based sculptor, with whom they recorded the material for an album, Prepared to Meet Thy Pnoom. Unable to find a recording company willing to release the album, the group continued their studio work until they had material for what became their first release, Monster Movie, released in 1969.
This album contained new versions of two songs previously recorded for Prepared to Meet Thy Pnoom, “Father Cannot Yell” and “Outside My Door”. Other material recorded around the same time was released in 1981 as Delay 1968. Mooney’s bizarre ranting vocals emphasized the sheer strangeness and hypnotic quality of the music, which was influenced particularly by garage rock, psychedelic rock and funk. Repetition was stressed on bass and drums, particularly on the epic “Yoo Doo Right”, which had been edited down from a six-hour improvisation to take up a mere single side of vinyl. Liebezeit’s tight but multifarious drumming was crucial in carrying the music. Mooney suffered a nervous breakdown. He returned to America soon afterwards on the advice of a psychiatrist, having been told that getting away from the chaotic music of Can would be better for his mental health.
He was replaced by the more understated Kenji “Damo” Suzuki, a young Japanese traveller found busking outside a Munich cafe by Czukay and Liebezeit. Though he only knew a handful of guitar chords and improvised the majority of his lyrics (as opposed to committing them to paper), Suzuki was asked to perform with the band that same night. The band’s first record with Suzuki was Soundtracks, released in 1970, a compilation of music made for films that also contained two earlier tracks recorded with Mooney. Suzuki’s lyrics were usually in English, though sometimes in Japanese (for example, in “Oh Yeah” and “Doko E”).Tago Mago was followed in 1972 by Ege Bamyasi, a more accessible but still avant-garde record which featured the catchy “Vitamin C” and the Top 10 German hit “Spoon”. It was followed by Future Days in 1973, which represents an early example of ambient music, as well as including the pop song “Moonshake”. Suzuki left soon after the recording of Future Days to marry his German girlfriend, and become a Jehovah’s Witness. Vocals were taken over by Karoli and Schmidt; however, after the departure of Suzuki, fewer of their tracks featured vocals, as Can found themselves experimenting with the ambient music they had begun with Future Days.
Extract an interview of January 1997 with Holger Czukay by Richie Unterberger
RU: I wonder if you could compare the band as they were with Malcolm Mooney and as they were with Damo Suzuki. HC: With Malcolm Mooney, we were very fresh. Malcolm was a great rhythm talent. He was a locomotive. That was the right singer from the very beginning, as this was our weak point. Maybe we were creating rhythms, but you could say we were not very stable in ourselves in doing that. That means [we needed] someone who was pushing us into the rhythm, and giving us the feel that this is the right thing to do. This was Malcolm Mooney, and he got integrated very much into what all the other musicians did. I think he was the right singer in the right place at the right time. When he left because of psychological reasons, Damo came in. The group was far more experienced by that time. Damo is not such a pusher. He is a different sort of a singer, and therefore the group achieved such a stability. Again, Damo fitted perfectly into that. So you can say by the follow-up by the musicians who came in. Everything was really perfect.
The problem was, when Damo disappeared, Can was now without a singer. Suddenly we felt a hole in our music. Michael was singing, but he is not – a guitar player actually should not sing. Except like Jimi Hendrix or something like that. Actually, a guitar player should play guitar. That was our problem, suddenly, what we had. We tried out so many singers at that time. And nobody really fitted again into this group. It was somehow Can’s fate, or tragedy, or whatever you call that, that it happened like it happened. But that’s what was given to the group.
The later albums Landed (1975) and Flow Motion (1976) saw Can moving towards a somewhat more conventional style as their recording technology improved. In 1977 Can were joined by former Traffic bassist Rosko Gee and percussionist Rebop Kwaku Baah, both of whom provided vocals to Can’s music, appearing on the albums Saw Delight (1977), Out of Reach (1978) and Can (1979). During this period Holger Czukay was pushed to the fringes of the group’s activity; in fact he just made sounds using shortwave radios, Morse code keys, tape recorders and other sundry objects. He left Can in late 1977 and did not appear on the albums Out of Reach or Can, although he was involved with production work for the latter album. The band seemed to be in a hiatus shortly afterwards, but reunions have taken place on several occasions since.
Since the split, all the former members have been involved in musical projects, often as session musicians for other artists. In 1986 they briefly reformed, with original vocalist Mooney, to recordRite Time (released in 1989). There was a further reunion in 1991 to record a track for the Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World, and Can have since been the subject of numerous compilations, live albums.
Rebop Kwaku Baah died in 1983 following a brain hemorrhage. Michael Karoli died of cancer on 17 November 2001.
“The Lost Tapes” from the german krautrock band released on 18th June 2012.
Can – The Lost Tapes – Box Set
The Krautrock pioneers Can have always been a little cagey about what is and isn’t in their vaults. The received wisdom is that the German experimental rock group spent years in their studio, jamming constantly and recording everything, with bassist Holger Czukay editing the most promising tapes into the magnificent pieces that they released on record between 1969 and the mid-70s. They’ve always given the impression that their records were the result of grabbing whatever happened to be nearest at hand; when they’ve gone back into their archives for studio material in the past, they’ve resurfaced with outstanding stuff. Unlimited Edition from 1976, a collection of tapes that were lying around, includes career highlights like “Connection” and “Cutaway”; Delay 1968 is a complete, splendid album that the initial lineup of the band, with cracked American vocalist Malcolm Mooney, recorded before Monster Movie but somehow neglected to release until 1981.
When the legendary Can studio in Weilerswist was sold to the Germany Rock n’ Pop Museum, the entire space was disassembled and moved, and in the process, reels and reels of poorly marked and seemingly forgotten tapes were found buried amid other detritus in the studio. These tapes held over 30 hours of unreleased music from Can spanning a nine-year period and including work from both vocalists Malcolm Mooney and Damo Suzuki. Edited down to just over three hours, The Lost Tapes still includes an extensive amount of unheard studio, live, and soundtrack work from the band, and at its heights is as revelatory and brilliant as the best material on their well-loved albums.
For the past 30 years, though, all they’ve hauled up from the archive has been a few discs’ worth of live material. So The Lost Tapes sounded like a very big deal. It was assembled by Can keyboardist Irmin Schmidt and his son-in-law, Daniel Miller and frequent collaborator Jono Podmore, with the latter credited as editor.
Early vocalist Malcolm Mooney left the band under doctor’s orders after suffering a nervous breakdown connected with heavy paranoia, and his unhinged vocals characterize collections of early Can recordings like Delay. On The Lost Tapes, Mooney rants his way through the ten-plus-minute “Waiting for the Streetcar,” a charged jam that crackles with all the same kind of energy that would embody the post-punk movement years later. Of the Mooney era, “Deadly Doris” also has the same fuzzy punk vibes meeting the kind of Krautrock groove Can excelled at, while the spoken eeriness of “When Darkness Comes” finds a brittle soundscape of formless tones and menacing muttering.
“Halcyon days, not outtakes,” trumpeted the album’s press release. That’s not entirely true. A lot of these tracks are distinctly outtakes: alternate versions of familiar themes, or at least ideas Can executed differently elsewhere. Highlights are bountiful throughout the set’s three discs, with soundtrack work like the hypnotic “Dead Pigeon Suite” and brilliant live renditions of classic tracks from the Damo Suzuki era like “Spoon” and “Mushroom.” “Dead Pigeon Suite”, is 12 minutes of what appears to be exploratory jamming toward what became the taut, densely packed single “Vitamin C”. Some of the material cuts in and out between studio and live recordings, while other studio tracks are extended pieces with well-known album tracks housed in the middle of before-unheard jams.
Can 1971 – Irmin Schmidt, Jaki Liebezeit, Michael Karoli, Ulli Gerlach, Holger Szukay, Damo Suzuki
“Messer, Scissors, Fork and Light”, similarly, is Can working out the various hooks that coalesced into “Spoon”. Half-familiar titles turn out to be germinal variations on “Mother Sky”, “Soul Desert”, and “Sing Swan Song”. “Abra Cada Braxas” and “Blind Mirror Surf” aren’t the same songs as Tago Mago’s “Bring Me Coffee or Tea” and “Aumgn”, but there’s a family resemblance. There are lengthy live versions of “Spoon” and “Mushroom”– not the same as the ones that appeared on last year’s Tago Mago reissue, but of similar vintage. — as well as “One More Saturday Night”, a live take of Ege Bamyasi’s “One More Night”.
With over 30 hours of material to cull from, it goes without saying that Can loved to jam. If The Lost Tapes has any shortcomings, it would be that Can’s exploratory nature led them to follow any idea at great length, and several of the songs approach or exceed the nine-minute mark, making the set difficult to digest at once. Some of the live tracks lack the fire of the rest of the set, as do some of the seemingly innocuous interludes. While The Lost Tapes isn’t for every casual listener, the collection keeps from becoming a “fans only” compilation through the sheer amount of ideas and material put forth. Can’s inarguable importance in so many fields of music from experimental to production-minded electronic music, and these lost recordings represent an amazing mother lode to any Can enthusiast and certainly should hold more than enough interesting moments for even a curious new listener.
Maryanne Amacher (born on February 25, 1938 in Kane, Pennsylvania) was an American composer and installation artist. She was a pioneer in the field of electro-acoustics and computerised music at a time when new challenges were presented regularly. She was born, to an American nurse and a Swiss freight train worker. As the only child, she grew up playing the piano. Amacher left Kane to attend the University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship where she received a B.F.A in 1964. While there she studied composition with George Rochberg. She also studied composition in Salzburg, Austria, and Dartington, England, and privately with Karlheinz Stockhausen. Subsequently, she did graduate work in acoustics and computer science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In Ms. Amacher’s “City-Links” series, which she began in 1967 and returned to periodically through the 1990s to create 22 installations in all, sounds from different locations within a city — or several cities — were transmitted over telephone lines and mixed together.
While in residence at the University of Buffalo, in 1967, she created City Links: Buffalo, a 28-hour piece using 5 microphones in different parts of the city, broadcast live by radio station WBFO. There were 21 other pieces in the “City Links” series, and more information can be found in the brochure for an exhibition on the series by Ludlow 38 in NYC ((available on their website http://www.ludlow38.org/index.php?/archive/maryanne-amacher-city-links/ ).
A common feature was the use of dedicated, FM radio quality telephone (0-15,000 Hz range) lines to connect the sound environments of different sites into the same space, a very early example of what is now called “telematic performance” and preceded much more famous examples of this by Max Neuhaus and others. Neuhaus was involved with the original ’67 work in Buffalo.
Other pieces in the series used sounds from the harbors of Boston and New York. In “City-Links 15,” Ms. Amacher combined sound from New York, Boston and Paris for a live broadcast carried by WBAI-FM in New York and Radio France Musique in Paris.
After presenting early works, including the first few pieces in the “City-Links” series, during fellowships at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, she was invited by the composer John Cage to collaborate on several projects. She produced a storm soundtrack for Cage’s multimedia “Lecture on the Weather” (1975), as well as a sound environment piece, “Close Up,” which accompanied Cage’s 10-hour solo voice work, “Empty Words” (1978). For Cunningham, she produced “Torse” and several other evening-length works from 1974 to 1980.
Her major pieces have almost exclusively been site specific, often using many loudspeakers to create what she called “structure borne sound”, which is a differentiation with “airborne sound”, the paradox intentional. By using many diffuse sound sources (either not in the space or speakers facing at the walls or floors) she would create the psychoacoustic illusions of sound shapes/”precense”. Amacher’s early work is best represented in the three series of multimedia installations produced in the United States, Europe, and Japan: the sonic telepresence series, “City Links” 1-22 (1967- ); the architecturally staged “Music For Sound Joined Rooms” (1980- ) and the “Mini-Sound Series” (1985- ) a new multimedia form which she created, that is unique in its use of architecture and serialized narrative.
Ms. Amacher was drawn to extremes: some of her scores — for example, the music she composed for the choreographer Merce Cunningham’s “Torse” (1976) — could be so soft as to be nearly inaudible at times. But more typically, she reveled in powerful, high-volume sensory assaults, combining high-pitched electronic chirping and solid bass drones to produce a visceral effect.
“With three tape recorders and a huge set of speakers spread out around a darkened room,” Peter Watrous wrote in The New York Times after a performance at the Kitchen in 1988, “she used immense volume to make sound feel liquid, all-enveloping, as if it were pouring into ears, between fingers and through hair. Ms. Amacher layered her noises — buzzing tones wrapped in sandstorm textures, rumblings like faraway thunder storms late at night, an idling motorcycle, jets swooping by — into an apocalyptic, terrifying landscape.”
Many of Ms. Amacher’s most notable works are known only by reputation. They were site-specific installations that would be difficult, perhaps even impossible, to recreate, although several have been staged in new versions for different locations. Moreover, the handful of recordings that offer samples of her scores barely do them justice: Ms. Amacher was less concerned with sound on its own terms than with the way sound was perceived in space and over extended time periods.
She worked extensively with the physiological (not psychoacoustic) phenomenon called otoacoustic emission, in which the ears themselves act as sound generating devices. Amacher composed several “ear dances” designed to stimulate clear “third” tones coming from the listener’s ears. It’s not yet adequately researched and clear as to whether these works are solely from otoacoustic emissions or perhaps also combination and difference tones.
The subtitle of her first Tzadik Records album Sound Characters (Making the Third Ear) references these “ear tones”.
Amacher describes this phenomenon: When played at the right sound level, which is quite high and exciting, the tones in this music will cause your ears to act as neurophonic instruments that emit sounds that will seem to be issuing directly from your head … (my audiences) discover they are producing a tonal dimension of the music which interacts melodically, rhythmically, and spatially with thetones in the room.
Tones ‘dance’ in the immediate space of their body, around them like a sonic wrap, cascade inside ears, and out to space in front of their eyes … Do not be alarmed! Your ears are not behaving strange or being damaged! … these virtual tones are a natural and very real physical aspect of auditory perception, similar to the fusing of two images resulting in a third three dimensional image in binocular perception … I want to release this music which is produced by the listener …
“I was particularly interested in the experience of ‘Synchronicity,’ hearing spaces distant from each other at the same time, which we do not experience in our lives,” she told the composer Alan Licht in a 1999 interview for The Wire.
Over the years she received several major commissions in the United States and Europe with work in Asia and Central and South America.
In 2005, she was awarded the Prix Ars Electronica (the Golden Nica) in the “Digital Musics” category for her project “TEO! A sonic sculpture”. At the time of her death she had been working three years on a 40 channel piece commissioned by the Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center in Troy, New York.
For the last decade of her life she taught at the Bard College MFA program.
She was also an important influence for a generation of composers who combined rock instrumentation and avant-garde sensibilities, among them Rhys Chatham and Thurston Moore. The documentary film “Day Trip Maryanne,” by Andrew Kesin, captures discussions and performance collaborations between Ms. Amacher and Mr. Moore.
She died on 22th October 2009 in Rhinebeck-ben (N.Y.).