The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

February 17, 2007

Qbico 56 LP review

Review @

Alan Sondheim
Qbico #56

Poet, metalinguist, cultural theorist and musician Alan Sondheim is
best-loved by consumers of sub-underground fare for the stellar sides he
recorded for ESP-Disk in the late-60s. But prior to that he was already
active as an improviser in Rhode Island working with Ritual All 770, a
multi-disciplinary group that combined brass, vocals, tranced hand
percussion, bass and drums with a great up-ending attitude to avant garde
sources that was reminiscent of the way that the Los Angeles Free Music
Society would later use a goofy strategy of provocative art prank as a
cover to allow non-initiates to work on serious formal breakthroughs. The
Songs - an early collaboration between the two - was originally issued on
Riverboat Records in 1967 and has remained fairly unknown outside of All
770's appearance on the legendary Nurse With Wound list that appeared in
copies of that group's first album, Chance Meeting On A Dissecting Table
Of A Sewing Machine And An Umbrella. 56 represents his first new LP in 35
years. Here Sondheim is solo, using guitar, alpine zither, electronics and
field recordings. The guitar material orbits a bunch of singular
hemispheres that would seem to locate the arc of his melodic thought
somewhere between the odd, baroque constructions of Sandy Bull and the
knotty dissonance of John Fahey - or even at points Derek Bailey - while
the electronics and field recordings are full of subtle concentric rings
of melodic suggestion and feel almost like close-ups on organic events,
full of refracted slow-motion pulses and coronas of phantom tone. The
whole set is perfectly assembled, with tracks short enough not to be too
gruelling and long enough to reveal their full transportational
properties. Indeed, I'd go so far as to say it was Sondheim's most
accomplished work to date. A classic of avant extension and highly

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red vinyl with white, photos by alan sondheim, cover by qbico. rec.
2005/06 in ny and la. "after releasing two unique lp back in the 60's for
the legendary esp label with his ritual all 770 and another one for
riverboat, finally alan sondheim is back ! this is his 1st lp after nearly
35 years and here he plays guitar, alpine zither, electronics, field
recording... as usual he present us an eclectic mix of fascinating
sounds..." (label info)



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22.03 Euro
Date de sortie:2007-02-01
Support:1 LP
Disponibilité dans:20-22 jours
Imprimé en:NL

=== Also look for FireMuseum ski/nn and The Songs, ESP recordings, etc.


In response to the singing of death, repertoire, life-in-death, digital (both small)
or looped (better resolution)

Death doesn't become a song; the song is prior to death. The threshold
which lays poetics to rest perhaps, something Auschwitz clearly didn't do,
is that - at least for me - of everything we might hold dear - that is,
the wild, the compassionate, survival with grace. It's hard to visualize
the catastrophe around the corner, when we associate catastrophe literally
with sudden transformation, war, trauma - not this slow rise of tempera-
ture, or the picking off of animals one by one. We react as if it were
another turn or fear of the apocalypse, i.e. 'we've heard it all before' -
as if this means it's not there now, we're in a permanent state of crying
wolf. But animals literally on their last legs have heard it as well, time
and time again, and still it comes. I'm at a loss for the poetics here,
just as in I think Parmenides, Socrates was at a loss when muck, mud, was
brought to the foreground in the discussion of ideal forms.

Within the digital, within the idealized digital, there is no in-between -
either here/there, or 0/1, or whateverx/whatevery - the rest of the world
is held at bay behind the walls of a potential well sufficient to permit
communication in the small - i.e. to permit communication. One might say:

within the liminal, the digital doesn't exist -
the analogic exists only within the liminal.

Aphoristic, but accurate, perhaps nothing more needs to be said, or what
else might be said might be of or within an/other register.

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