A major archival discovery: a stunning document of the only performance by the trio of Tony Conrad, Arnold Dreyblatt and Jim O'Rourke.
Across a two-night programme organised by David Weinstein at legendary New York experimental venue Tonic in January 2001, Conrad, Dreyblatt and O'Rourke presented individual projects before performing a collaborative set each night, the first with members of Dreyblatt's ensemble and the second the trio heard here. As Dreyblatt points out in the wonderfully informative and reflective liner notes written for this release, this was a collaboration across generations, reflecting the profound impact of Conrad's pioneering minimalism on Dreyblatt and O'Rourke. Both Dreyblatt and O'Rourke came to this collaboration armed with a deep appreciation of Conrad's music and the just intonation principles at its core, Dreyblatt having first encountered the incredible power of Conrad's precisely tuned violin chords during his tenure as an archivist for La Monte Young
in 1975, while O'Rourke had performed with Conrad in various settings since the mid-1990s (as well as admiring, reissuing, and performing Dreyblatt's music). The flyer for the concert promised 'massive, ecstatic, pulsating overtones', and the trio certainly delivered. From the moment this keening stream of bowed strings begins, it is clear, as Dreyblatt writes, that we are in 'Tony's sonic universe', as massively amplified, slowly shifting combinations of precisely chosen pitches fill the room with complex beating patterns and ghostly difference tones. For more than twenty-five minutes, the music operates at a level of intensity comparable to classic recordings such as Conrad's Four Violins, until the texture thins out slightly in the performance's final quarter, allowing for the listener's first recognition of the individual voices that make up this enormous, overwhelming harmonic edifice. The constant stream of bowed tones is broken by a beautifully rich pizzicato from Conrad on monochord, the sliding low tones and metallic shimmer of the other strings taking the set's final moments on an unexpected detour into spacious pastoral psychedelia.
Though produced by three individuals known for their own distinctive bodies of the work, this is egoless music, the perfect expression of Conrad's desire "to move away from composing to listening", to "working 'on' the sound from 'inside' the sound". Historically important and overwhelming in sonic impact, this release also serves as a moving tribute to Tony Conrad from two musicians profoundly marked by the example set by his art and life.
Tony Conrad (born 1940 in Concord, USA) is a video
artist, experimental filmmaker
, avant-garde musician/composer
, sound artist
, teacher and writer. Notable works include film The Flicker
(1966) which consists on a succession of black & white frames and the Yellow Movies
(1970's) a series of abstract paintings changing over time. Along with John Cale, Angus MacLise
, La Monte Young
, and Marian Zazeela
, Conrad was an early member of the Theater of Eternal Music. His most notorious musical work is a 1972 collaboration with Krautrock band Faust, Outside the Dream Syndicate
. Conrad continues to teach at the Department of Media Study at University at Buffalo.
Arnold Dreyblatt (born 1953 in New York) is an American media artist and composer based in Berlin since 1984. An instrumental inventor, associated with New York minimalism, and a collaborator of many artists associated with the Fluxus
movement, Dreyblatt is considered one of the precursors of drone music.
Arnold Dreyblatt has studied with composers Pauline Oliveros
, La Monte Young
and Alvin Lucier
and video art pioneers Woody and Steina Vasulka. Whether performing solo with his modified double bass, or surrounded by his iconic Orchestra of Excited Strings ensemble, Dreyblatt develops hypnotic, pulsating music through his own microtonal tuning system. Arnold Dreyblatt's work has been performed by Bang On A Can, Jim O'Rourke
, Stockholm's Great Learning Orchestra, the Pellegrini String Quartet, and the Crash Ensemble of Dublin. He has recorded for labels such as Tzadik, Hat Hut, Table of the Elements, Cantaloupe, Important
, Choose and Black Truffle
Musician, composer, improviser and producer, Jim O'Rourke (born in 1969 in Chicago, lives and works in Tokyo) is an essential figure of the American independent rock
and post-rock scene (his solo records released on Drag City or in groups with Gastr Del Sol and Sonic Youth
have all become classics of the 1990s and 2000s) as well as experimental and electroacoustic music. His collaborations are countless: Illusion Of Safety, Christoph Heemann
, David Grubbs
, Loren Connors
, Wilco, Henry Kaiser, K.K. Null, Günter Müller, Voice Crack, Evan Parker
, Phill Niblock
, Mats Gustafsson, Tony Conrad
, Faust, Space Streakings, Loose Fur, Fennesz
, Diskaholics Anonymous Trio, Carlos Giffoni, Keiji Haino
, Masami Akita
, Masaya Nakahara, Takehisa Kosugi
, Fire!, Akira Sakata, Oren Ambarchi
, Stephen O'Malley
, Kassel Jaeger
, Anthony Burr
, John Fahey, Tortoise, Stereolab, Red Crayola, Guided By Voices, Merzbow