Rrose: Plays James Tenney: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion (LP, Further, May 2015)

Minimalist composer James Tenney (an early member of the Philip Glass Ensemble) wrote Koan: Having Never Written A Note For Percussion for experimental percussionist John Bergamo in 1971. It is for a percussion instrument (he doesn’t specify which) and consists of a single note, initially quadruple-pianissimo, then with a crescendo to a quadruple-fortissimo, then with a diminuendo back to quadruple-pianissimo. This note should be “very long”. (The score is helpfully included on a slip of paper in the sleeve of this record.) And people think that the Pixies invented that quiet-loud-quiet thing…

This record contains two fascinating performances on a gong by left-field techno adventurer Rrose. The A-side is a studio version, just over 27 minutes and utterly engrossing: I can get totally lost listening to the resonances build up and new sounds start emerging and interacting with each other. This is, I’m pretty sure, the closest I’ve ever come to a gong bath on vinyl. The B-side is a 30-minutes live recording in the abandoned trolley-bus station beneath Washington D.C.’s Dupont Circle. The effect is quite different, you can hear the interaction between the instrument and the environment and there are some quite loud clanking noises presumably from people moving around in the cavernous-sounding hall. It’s also pretty fascinating, and both by itself and as a companion piece… I think I slightly prefer the purity of the studio version, with its intimate, intense, and disintermediated relationship between the instrument and the listener.

I bought this from Boomkat. They call it Electronic, which is just crazy-talk.

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