I have about 30 emails which date back to February rotting in my inbox, under the pretense that I’m somehow going to find the time to ‘properly’ research and present the information contained therein. Since it’s becoming increasingly obvious that I need to finish the things I’ve started and not let new projects accumulate in my inbox, I’m going to attempt to jettison some of these links over the next few days.
The first volley in this barrage of nerdy crap is a link to a great Essay/Timeline called “A Brief history of Anti-Records and Conceptual Records” by Ron Rice. This was sent to me by Bill at Housepig, on February 3rd of this year, and it is exactly the kind of thing I LOVE.
I read it that day, saved the email so I could write about it when I “got caught up,” and it promptly got buried under all the other “important” email I get (Comment spam, fake paypal announcements, musicbox restoration discussion digests, etc).
Without further ado, here are some highlights:
1963 Milan Knizak: “in 1963-64 I used to play records both too slowly and too fast and thus changed the quality of the music, thereby, creating new compositions. In 1965 I started to destroy records: scratch them, punch holes in them, break them. By playing them over and over again (which destroyed the needle and often the record player too) an entirely new music was created – unexpected, nerve-racking and aggressive. Compositions lasting one second or almost infinitely long (as when the needle got stuck in a deep groove and played the same phrase over and over). I developed this system further. I began sticking tape on top of records, painting over them, burning them, cutting them up and gluing different parts of records back together, etc. to achieve the widest possible variety of sounds. A glued joint created a rhythmic element separating contrasting melodic phrases… Since music that results from playing ruined gramophone records cannot be transcribed to notes or to another language (or if so, only with great difficulty), the records themselves may be considered as notations at the same time.”
1964 Robert Watts (phono records): “…I made a series of spray-painted records for a Fluxus performance at the Fluxstore on Canal Street. These were played by the audience, and as the paint wore off, gradually the music was revealed.” (From Extended Play – see bibliography).
1982 Martin Turner creates “Ekliptizs-cher Rhythmus”, a plexiglass record with one groove in which certain markings are made. Says Turner, “The constellation of the stars of the date of birth is applied … by means of scratching or hatching, marked as an acoustic event. When played on a record player, a certain rhythm results, which, in itself cyclic recurrent, varies with each person.”
1983 Die Todliche Doris releases “Chore and Soli” in an attempt to liberate their work from the typical pattern of critical comparison to past work- a box set of eight mini-records playable only with an enclosed, battery-operated player (in actuality a device used to reproduce sound in talking dolls). Each album contains perhaps thirty seconds of sound, about the same amount of time it takes to insert the disc in the apparatus. A thousand copies were made.
…and the list goes on. Many people hate shit like this, but I bear the eternal curse of loving the concept and invariably being disappointed by the result. I’ve done a little digging for a book that appears in the works cited of this article and that I’ve seen mentioned elsewhere: “Broken Music: Artists’ recordworks.” There are reviews on the web, but I’ve thus far not found an affordable copy (The “best deal” so far: the used copy currently on Amazon. A mere $565 and it’s yours. Fetchbook finds copies as high as $1317). This appears to be a sort of online representation of the exhibit that the book details.
P.S. Curse you Sting, for complicating my search!