Reverb

Phasing

Historical

Memory

CONTENTS (going back in time...):

Miles Davis 1969-74,1997; NYC and the world

Harry Bertoia, 1960s - 1970s
Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania

David Tudor, 1970s, NYC

Lee “Scratch” Perry, Jamaica, 1960s and 1970s

Jimi Hendrix, London, 1967

Dick Dale and Leo Fender, California 1962-

Sun Ra Arkestra, NYC and Germantown, Philadelphia, 1961-64

for c h a n g
(dj)

Miles Davis 1969-74,1997; NYC and the world

What if Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis had recorded together? The most innovative force in rock and roll and the hippest jazzman of the times? Shango fires up his Stratocaster while Ogun with trumpet, mute, and keyboards plugs in?

Consider the following meditation by David Henderson. “Hendrix and bassist Dave Holland had jammed together. Miles had used Holland on Filles de Kilimanjaro in 1968 in what began the breaking-up of the famous quintet and the emergence of [Miles’] new direction. Hendrix and Gil Evans discussed doing an album. Hendrix had also jammed with keyboardist Larry Young, who played on Bitches Brew. (Young later played with John McLaughlin and former [Hendrix] Band of Gypsys drummer Buddy Miles on the Devotion LP.) But Hendrix had played with Rahsaan Roland Kirk when he was still just emerging in London, so it’s clear that he had something in mind along the lines, perhaps, of [Miles’ concept of] “The Music” --- all as one, and certainly including jazz.

"As it so happened, Miles was recording Bitches Brew while Hendrix was onstage at Woodstock with a new band that featured another guitarist and two percussionists, including Juma Sultan, who was also a jazzman and had recently jammed with Hendrix and Young. This expanded group actually presaged Miles’ similarly constructed Live-Evil sessions of late 1970, recorded only months after Jimi’s death.

“I’m remember seeing Miles at the old Keystone in San Francisco’s North Beach around this time. He seemed to be after something that involved guitars and synthesizer sounds with horns soloing. He had about three guitarists, a lot of percussion, and three horns. The bass was a constant throb and he would change the course of the music by hitting chords on an organ-sounding keyboard. Wires everywhere, and supplemental speakers--- it looked like an electric laboratory. And Miles and company were playing long sets of compositions, some of which are presented on this remix.

Panthalassa. Miles’ OM on the bottom. Yogi shit. Sitar sounds, drones and well into the interior the OM has physically left the bottom, but its effect is still there, magically. Miles is doing a Third World thing inspired from ancient kingdoms and the California present where people of color conceive of society so differently --- from the Third World (not economic) made from the collective mind of ancient peoples of color and then today the reality of the West, which makes one live in a third world of consciousness... a whole new reality. Black American funk, gospel, soul, African and South American polyrhythms, Indian sounds hint at psychedelic, meditative, mind-expanding themes --- a melding of ideas, concepts, improvisations inspired by instrumentations not of traditional jazz. Flying trumpets back in the mix. The whirr of the sitar, drones and percussion, mixed and timed in such ways that a terrain develops: the raw stuff of alternate worlds....”

--- excerpt from David Henderson, liner notes for Panthalassa: The Music of Miles Davis, 1968-1974. Reconstruction and mix translation by Bill Laswell. Columbia Records, 1997.

closeup of a Ra graphic seen below


Harry Bertoia, 1960s - 1970s
Berks County, Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania


An Italian immigrant to Pennsylvania during the Depression, Harry Bertoia became famous during his lifetime as an artist and designer, especially of modernist-style chairs. But since his death in 1978 he is gaining fame for his experiments with metal sound sculpture; Brian Eno and others are arranging shows and concerts for his sculptures all over Europe in 1998.

Some of the sound sculptures are gongs, but many are clusters of tall metal rods grouped together like grasses or pipes. The rods are of many different heights and thicknesses, for different sounds, and some have metal cylinders on the tops which can be brushed together by hand--gently for gentle sounds, more sharply for louder ones. These cylinders also vary greatly in size, some being thin and tall as cattail tops, others thick like engine pistons.

The sculpture’s metal is pretty uniformly rust-colored, but the varied sounds evoke clouds of colors and shades. And after being struck or brushed the sounds tremolo in the air, suspended, until gradually fading.

Harry Bertoia’s studio was in a barn, renamed Sonambient Barn.

His grave is behind the barn. No headstone, just a huge gong’s dark disk. Three tall logs intersect in a pyramid, and suspended from its apex is the gong, its bottom inches about the surface of the leaves covering his grave. An epitaph stands nearby: “He heard the voice of the wind bringing sound from form to life.” Visitors may sound the gong in greeting and tribute.

From an article on Bertoia by Diane Goldsmith: “Bertoia got involved with sounding pieces during the 1960s by accidentally striking a metal rod while bending it. ‘The sound echoed and re-echoed in fact and memory,’ wrote [Deborah Mangel].... [Bertoia] went on to experiment with the different sound qualities produced by different metals....

“Benjamin Mangel ... remembers being at Bertoia’s home in 1978 when about 50 architects arrived from Germany. ‘He said, “Come I have to give them a sounding show.” He had more than a hundred [sound sculpture] pieces in his barn. He’d play them in concert, and the architects watched in amazement....’

“[He] knew instinctively where the foci were [in a gong] ... and would strike the gong there for the best effect.”

“On a CD now available, [Bertoia] clearly enjoys the vast possibilities of the metallic chorus at his disposal. There’s a sense that the whole has been carefully thought out --- the music hangs together. Voices enter, make a statement, and leave. Textures accumulate and dissipate.

“[His son] Val, who helped his father build the sound sculptures, pointed out a drawing on the barn wall with black, yellow and red lines going off in different directions. This was how Harry would plot his compositions, he said: ‘First came the drawings, then the sounds.’

At some points, Bertoia’s music sounds quite dense for one person to have created. Val said that although Harry’s brother Oreste would occasionally play along on the sculptures, Harry recorded alone. But Harry would occasionally alter the sound by playing some sections of the tape backward, slowing some down, or speeding some up.

“May he enjoy the music yet to come.”

--- All quotations from “A Father’s Resounding Legacy: Harry Bertoia’s Sound Sculptures,” by Diane Goldsmith, Philadelphia Inquirer, November 6 1998, E1, E4-E5.
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David Tudor, 1970s, NYC

“[B]y 1970, Tudor’s pianism was a legend of history, revivable only on rare recordings. He had moved into a new career (started in the late ‘50s) as one of the leading pioneers of live electronic music, coaxing twitters and chirrups out of homemade but complexly wired components. His magnum opus was a series of installations collected under the title Rainforest, whose jungles of suspended cast-off objects---lawn sprinklers, car windshields, and bicycle rims, all made to vibrate with transducers---brought the detritus of civilization to acoustic life. Tudor’s electronics, presented with a sense of mystery that made him shy away from technical explanation, chirped and whistled with the warmth of a swarm of insects or distant flock of birds. According to one of his closest protégés, Linda Fisher, Tudor’s ‘circuits themselves were the scores. He carried the homemade electronics aesthetic to a level of unrelenting purity.’”

---from Kyle Gann, obituary for David Tudor, 1926-1996
Village Voice, 9-3-96, p. 46

see further tales of Tudor in John Cage’s book Silence
see also various pages on the Web about Cage


black

ark

studio

Lee “Scratch” Perry,
Jamaica, 1960s and 1970s
Arkology [BOX SET featuring '70s cuts]
Lee "Scratch" Perry
List Price: $40.97
Our Price: $0.00

Audio CD (July 15, 1997)
Original Release Date: 1997
Number of Discs: 3
Uni/Polygram Pop/Jazz; ASIN: B000001EB0


Great introduction for those new to Perry
Reviewer: breakdownnyhc@yahoo.com from USA

March 23, 1999
This boxed-set hits my CD player at least a couple of times a week. The sound quality is fantastic, considering the age of the masters and some of the methods that Perry used to give it the dub sound (putting the reels in a dirt hole and blowing lambs bread into it). A great variety of artists that he had worked with. Valuable, especially for the more obscure artists like Errol Walker (fantastic). The first CD contains songs that are more on the upbeat side (if dub can ever be called upbeat...) and includes a load of catchy songs. The second CD would be great if it weren't for the 300 or so versions of Police and Thieves. Great song, but you can only juice it so much... Mellow songs with rudeboy/gangster themes like Norman. The 3rd CD has the more 'stoned' sounding songs. Ambient and relaxing. Bird in Hand is just crazy. This is a must for any dub fan, or anyone wanting to check out what dub is all about by the man who invented it.

An Outstanding Musical Experience
Reviewer: jerre@realpower.com from Michigan October 13, 1998

This set represents the finest music to come out of Jamaica ... ever! In a creative sense, Lee "Scratch" Perry was to Jamaican music what The Beatles were to pop music. The Black Ark was Lee's Abbey Road studio. Working primarily as a producer, Lee is credited for creating the "dub" sound that has become the backbone of Reggae music. This collection of three CD's is packed to the brim with deep, chunky, bass-driven, mystical rhythms that will send your spirit soaring. This music is deeply spiritual, deeply moving, and delightfully entertaining. There isn't a bad cut in this 3 CD set of 51 tracks. The single most remarkable aspect of this set is that it was created in the late seventies on a Teac 4-track ... If you like Bob Marley (and who doesn't) you'll love this collection of smoldering, sensual soundscapes by his producer. Lee is the "Dub Shephard." ... I am amazed at how brilliantly this music was restored from those tapes ... and how "fresh" it sounds today. This is music with beauty, power, passion and soul ... it will transform you. This collection is a serious "must have" for any fan of "real" Reggae music.

I can only hope that there will be an Arkology II.


Nutritious cannibalism
Reviewer: dasmith@iei.net from U.S.A.

April 14, 1999
The compilers of this set worked hard to recreate the Lee Perry Experience: barely coherent, frequently repetitious, and sometimes with dubious sound quality. Somehow it all works. Reel One suffers from a few dull dubs, but other dubs such as "Vamp a Dub", offer such different perspectives on the instrumental tracks that they stand on their own as musical pieces. Reel Two's "Police and Thieves" suite is noteworthy for the fact that just about every cut sounds different from the rest while using the same backing track; certainly proof that the recycling of tracks by Jamaican producers was cannibalistic but nutritious. This entire second "reel", in fact, is probably the strongest disc of the set, not counting the awful "John Public". Reel Three is the most blatant attempt by the compilers to approximate Lee's own albums, and they do a fine job, although by the end of the disc the energy becomes thin.

Throughout "Arkology" we are presented with some of Jamaica's finest vocalists, like the Congoes, Junior Murvin (for the single most convincing of his performances, check out "Closer Together"), and the Heptones. The Upsetters are never less than dread-heavy and perfect. Some of the remasterings have resulted in thin mixes; the engineers for the set should have used "Heart of the Congoes" as a template: on that set, much of the hiss and crackle was retained since removing that would also remove some of the musical quality itself. Still, "Arkology" is essential.... Maybe Island can correct their mistakes with a sequel.

Perry remains active and toured in 1999.

close-up from a hair piece by sculptor David Hammons
David Hammons, sculptor: Higher Goals (Brooklyn NYC). Nailed bottlecaps, telephone poles, basketball backstops and hoops, and wind-chimes.


Jimi Hendrix, London, 1967

“‘It was the second album [Axis: Bold as Love] that really sticks out in my mind as being the beginning,’ recalls Eddie [Kramer, sound engineer], because [Jimi] became much more involved in the mixing. When I was doing things on the board with echo and compression, he would say “what’s that?” and I’d say “well, this is what I’m doing to the voice and here’s how I’m going to try this effect on this guitar, listen to this”.’”

“‘All you can get now is just across and across,’ said Jimi, ‘But I want to have stereo where it goes up and behind and underneath.’” [4]

“[According to Jimi,] ‘there’s a certain thing on the last track of Axis, it’s called “phasing,” it makes it sound like planes are going through your membranes and chromosomes....’” [21-22]

“George Chkiantz is the expert credited with creating the phasing sound in stereo and applying it to the last minutes of Bold As Love. ‘That’s the sound I’ve been hearing in my dreams!’ exclaimed Jimi, ‘that’s the sound we wanted....’”

“But as Noel [Redding] explains, ‘In those days phasing was hard to do, because we were only working on four track. They had to get two two-track tape recorders together; they had to set up two, connect them, and then put them out-of-phase with each other, with the dials....’” [22].

---Michael Fairchild, notes for remastered reissue of Jimi Hendrix’s Axis: Bold as Love [rec. 1967] on MCA Records CD, 1993.

double

cutaway

guess whose guitar?


Dick Dale and Leo Fender, California 1962-

“Dick Dale (Richard Monsour) was already a committed bandleader and instrumentalist when Hollywood discovered the surf movement he helped catalyze. Always experimenting with equipment to pump up his sound, Dale developed a relationship with audio engineer Leo Fender, who started customizing amps, guitars, and reverb boxes to Dale’s specifications. Not every track on Cowabunga [Rhino Records’ 4-CD anthology of surf music from 1960-1995] deploys the resultant Fender Reverb Unit, but those that do are redolent with the characteristic ‘wet’ echo that put Fender equipment on the map....”

---Carol Cooper, “The New Wave,” review of the CDs Cowabunga![Rhino] and Man or Astro-Man’s Experiment Zero [Touch and Go]. Village Voice, Sept. 17 1995, p. 51.

re
verb


Sun Ra Arkestra, NYC and Germantown, Philadelphia, 1961-64

“Bugs Hunter claims to have recorded most of [Sun] Ra’s New York Saturn albums from 1961 to 1964 --- and to have come up with the echo effect that drenches portions of Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy [1963]. It was actually a tape delay reverb effect Hunter discovered almost by accident: ‘I was using an old Ampex 601- or 602-model tape recorder. I got it for $800 in a pawnshop. What it had was this thing where you could take the output of the tape you’d recorded playing back, and feed it back into another input. I was just fooling with it once while the guys in the band were tuning up, and I got this weird reverberation. I wasn’t sure what Sun Ra would think of it when he heard it, I thought he might be mad --- but he loved it. ...By working the volume of the output on the playback I could control the effect, make it fast or slow, drop it out or whatever.’”

---Bugs Hunter quoted by Michael Shore, liner notes for reissue of Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy, Evidence CD 22036
[yo, Conshohocken, PA!], pp. 4-5 in the CD booklet, 1992.

S t r a t o c a s t e r

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