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FIRST, DAVID - Privacy Issues (droneworks 1996-2009)

Format: 3 x CD
Label & Cat.Number: Experimental Intermedia XI 134
Release Year: 2010
Note: overview of 9 dronework-compositions from 1996-2009 by this US composer who has been called "a bizarre cross between HENDRIX and LA MONTE YOUNG"
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €23.00

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"Featuring Chris McIntyre and Peter Zummo, trombones; Blue Gene Tyranny, keyboards; and The Black Jackets Ensemble. This was something unexpected and truly different: pulsing electronic textures that derived their rhythm from the beating patterns of closely-tune pitches - as if Alvin Lucier and Philip Glass had gone on a blind date to CBGBs... David put the beat in beating patterns. - From the liner notes by composer Nic Collins (on his initial exposure to First's music in 1987). Long overdue overview of composer David First's drone works. This special and specially priced set (3 CDs for the price of 2) is comprised of nine works composed between 1996 and 2009. 1996 was the beginning of a new period for me, says First. I had spent the prior five or six years creating a lot of music for other players and larger ensembles - culminating in 1995 with a couple of mountings of my opera, The Manhattan Book of the Dead. I was a little burned out on this and decided to return to a more personal, intimate format - one that ended up including an even more extensive exploration of tunings, alternative compositional softwares and how my playing techniques interacted with these things. I think I just wanted to go deeper and have more control over the results. During the ensuing years I've had a few pendulum swings - forays into beat-oriented pop music with lyrics & vocals and, of course, the re-animation of my rock band from the late 70s - the Notekillers. But I've continued, through all of the changes, to maintain my grounding in my love of the drone & associated acoustical phenomena - a love affair that began in my teenage psychedelic years and will, no doubt, be a most significant aspect of my music path for as long as I am at it. The tracks here represent almost every major work created from 1996 to the present and I'm grateful that they will be heard by a wider swath of people than those who lived in NYC or happened to be at one of my touring performances during these years.
David First's musical life is filled with opposites and extremes. At the age of twenty he played guitar with renowned avant-jazz pianist Cecil Taylor in a legendary Carnegie Hall concert. Two years after that he was creating electronic music as an "after-hours" artist-in-residence at Princeton University and leading a Mummer's String Band in Philadelphia parades. He has played in raucous drunken bar bands and in pin-drop quiet concert halls with classical ensembles. As a composer First has created everything from finely crafted pop songs to long, severely minimalist drone-works. His performances often find him sitting trance-like without seeming to move a muscle, unless he is playing with his recently re-formed psychedelic punk band, Notekillers, at which time he is a whirling blur of hyperactive energy. First has been called "a fascinating artist with a singular technique" in The New York Times, and "a bizarre cross between Hendrix and La Monte Young" in The Village Voice. A 45 single released in 1980, The Zipper, by Notekillers, was cited by Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore as one of the songs he played for the rest of the band when they were starting out. Moore called it a mind-blowing instrumental single in the British rock magazine Mojo and a big influence in the Philadelphia Inquirer. First's music has been performed in the USA at The Kitchen, Bang On A Can, Central Park Summerstage, the CMJ Music Marathon, Joe's Pub, SXSW, The Stone, The Knitting Factory, Tonic, Issue Project Room, Monkey Town, Merkin Hall, CBGB's, and The Spoleto Festival. He has also been presented extensively in Europe - appearing, at Podewil, the USArts Festival, Institut Unzeit (Berlin) as well as at De Ijsbreker (Amsterdam), the Heidelberger Festival for Experimental Music and Literature (Heidelberg), ZwischenTone Festival (Kln), The Impakt Festival (Utrecht), Het Apollohuis (Eindhoven), and the Brugge Concertgebeouw (Brugge). First has also presented sound installations at Kunstforeningen (Copenhagen), the Uppsala Konstmuseum (Uppsala), Exit Art (New York), Voorkamer (Lier) and Studio Five Beekman (NYC). An installation - Dave's Waves, a Sonic Restaurant - ran during the summer of 2006 in the Sonambiente Festival of Sound Art in Berlin. He has also been featured in numerous publications. There have been articles about him in both Guitar Player and Keyboard Magazine as well as in MusikTexte (Germany), Arude, Atlantica (Spain) and Tape Op. There are chapters about his music in the books American Music in the Twentieth Century (Gann/Schirmer) and La Musica Minimalista (Antognozzi/Edizioni Textus), Music Downtown (Gann/UofC Press) and Rifugio intermedio - Il pianoforte contemporaneo fra Italia e Stati Uniti (Arciuli/Teatro di Monfalcone). First received Honorable Mention from Leonardo/ISAST for his article "The Music of the Sphere: An Investigation into Asymptotic Harmonics, Brainwave Entrainment, and the Earth as a Giant Bell". He has received grants from the Foundation of Contemporary Performance Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Aaron Copland Fund for Music, the Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust and the Meet the Composer Commissioning USA program." [label info]


"Although I didn't keep up with the entire out-put of Phill Niblock's Experimental Intermedia label, the releases I did hear usually a very good, and also usually bring me composers I never heard off. Like David First. I never heard of him as a composer of drone works, nor of his band the Notekillers. In 1995 he finished an opera 'The Manhattan Book Of The Dead' and decided to play something that was more personal and intimate and thus a phase of composing drone music started. Although First is primarily a guitarist he explored various instruments in this drone phase. This three CD starts out with a thirty-five minute piece for Theremin, the longest piece here for a solo instrument. Other pieces are for slide whistle, computer, e-bowed guitar and even an odd one for transistor radios (the shortest actually, at just one minute). Two pieces, under which the CD long 'Pipeline Witness Apologies To Dennis', are pieces for a small ensemble. In the 'Pipeline' for four trombones, tuned
keyboards, e-bow guitar and computer, whereas violin, clarinet, guitar, bass and e-bow appear in 'My Veil Evades Detection'. All of this shows, I think, a wide interest in how to approach drone music, and First does an excellent job. In 'Pipeline' we could recognize some influence of Phill Niblock, whereas in the other pieces First keeps a great balance between material that is partly very loud and present, piercing almost, like in 'Zen Guilt/Zen Blame' or 'Belt', to hectic nervous pieces such as 'Aw!' or very much computer based as in'The Softening Door'. Altogether a great release, quite long of course, spanning more than three hours of music, but with this diversity I must say this is all great. An excellent introduction." [FdW/Vital Weekly]