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MONTGOMERY, GEN KEN - Birds + Machines

Format: CD
Label & Cat.Number: Pogus Productions P21055-2
Release Year: 2010
Note: collection of works from the 80's from this almost legendary experimental composer who worked often with CONRAD SCHNITZLER; very weird & advanced undescribable stuff, combining electronic / machine sounds & object recordings
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"With the enthusiasm of a born-again composer, I reviewed music I composed in the 80s, giving special attention to pieces that fused electronic sounds with everyday recorded sounds and noisy songs." - Gen Ken
I knew of Gen Ken Montgomery long before I ever met him, in fact one of the first tracks to attract me to his music is on this cd. And then I did meet him, etc etc. (Ken was a co-founder of Pogus, by the way). So it is with special delight that Pogus can release this cd of Ken's works from the 1980's.
I think that what Rene van Peer writes in his notes for this disc sums up much of Ken's work indeed:
Gen Ken Montgomery's sound worlds are full of activity. Not in the sense of sinuous melodies and chord progressions that try to set flea-hopping records. The sounds conjure up images and atmospheres of workshops where people busy themselves with assembling and repairing a variety of contraptions. Places where humans and tools intermingle, where technology (both hi and lo) appears as a trusted and respected companion. It is as much accepted as an integral part of the human sphere as a dog or a cat might be - and it sounds equally homely.
That is not to say that all sounds you'll hear in his music are commonplace, mundane. Many of them are immediately recognizable. Many of them can be traced to their source, even through dense veils of modification. Some derive clearly from instruments, some from birds. But many are absolutely singular, there's no telling what produced them. And to tell you the truth (my truth): it doesn't really matter. Regardless what sounds or sources form the components of this music (everyday or extraordinary objects; musical instruments or electronic tools; his own voice or environmental recordings), what is important is the mind that processes them and welds them together into the independent entities that we call songs.
It is evidently an open mind that enjoys toying with sounds. His music sounds as if he works with what he finds. Obviously he has prepared materials to be used. But the way he puts everything together makes the impression of someone following his judgment of the situation on the spot. These are not guided tours, mapped out beforehand. These songs are explorations. Trips into an unknown. They aren't, however, excursions done in seclusion. Everywhere he goes Ken Montgomery creates a buzz. He creates a sphere of sound around him that feels humane, sociable. A warm cloud of sonic strangeness. But a loud cloud, too, mind you." [label info]


"Although never really 'away' from the scene, Gen Ken Montgomery's career has been up and off the radar quite a bit, but these days he feels like a born again composer. He has been around since 1980 and recently reviewed the first decade of his career, and compiled this overview from these years and released it on Pogus, a label he was one of the founding fathers of (a fact I was unaware of). Heavily under the influence of electronic music, from all sorts of directions.
From industrial music to Conrad Schnitzler and
the serious sixties avant-garde, but also working, early, with field recordings (bird sounds return in various pieces). This collection spans all of these interests and makes up a highly varied disc of experimental, electronic music. The free spirit of these pieces, mostly made through improvisation with synthesizers, electric violin, found sounds, is partly crude, inherent to the period it was recorded I guess, is great. Not every track is great, 'Crema Di Roma' just gets on and on a bit too much for my liking, but there is enough great music here in this package to enjoy. If you missed out his own early tapes and records, and 80s styled electronic music was just discovered, then this is a must have. All others already made a note to fill in the gap in history." [FdW/Vital Weekly]