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Label & Cat.Number: Superior Viaduct SV198
Release Year: 2023
Note: first official re-issue of the mythical "Black Record" from 1969, the first LP and THE "drone" album from that time, feat. two side-long explorations into ultra-minimalist spheres and noises, set through layered vocals with special tuning or special gong performing... - "La Monte Young is the daddy of us all." [Brian Eno]
Price (incl. 19% VAT): €29.50
More Info"La Monte Young was born in Bern, Idaho in 1935. He began his music studies in Los Angeles and later Berkeley, California before relocating to New York City in 1960, where he became a primary influence on Minimalism, the Fluxus movement and performance art through his legendary compositions of extended time durations and the development of just intonation and rational number based tuning systems. With wife and collaborator, artist Marian Zazeela, they would formulate the composite sound environments of the Dream House, which continues to this day.
Seeing reissue for the first time since its initial 1969 release, Young and Zazeela's first full-length album is often referred to as "The Black Record" due to Zazeela's stunning cover design, complete with the composer's liner notes in elegant hand-lettered script.
Side one was recorded in 1969 (on the date and time indicated by the title) at the gallery of Heiner Friedrich in Munich, where Young and Zazeela premiered their Dream House sound and light installation. Featuring Young and Zazeela's voices against a sine wave drone, the recording is a section of the longer composition Map of 49's Dream the Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery (begun in 1966 as a sub-section of the even larger work The Tortoise, His Dreams and Journeys, which was begun in 1964 with Young's group The Theatre of Eternal Music). According to Young, the raga-like melodic phrases of his voice were heavily influenced by his future teacher, the Hindustani singer Pandit Pran Nath.
Side two, recorded in Young and Zazeela's NYC studio in 1964, is a section of the longer composition Studies in the Bowed Disc. This composition is an extended, highly abstract noise piece for bowed gong (gifted by sculptor Robert Morris). The liner notes explain that the live performance can be heard at 33 and 1/3 RPM, but may also be played at any slower speed down to 8 and 1/3 RPM for turntables with this capacity.
“La Monte Young is the daddy of us all.” — Brian Eno"
"Just wanted to tell a little story about gongs… As the reader may know it, the B-side of La Monte Young’s Black record is filled up until its very end with some low-down rumbling noise which seems to be eternally reinforcing itself and at the same time voiding its own space. This peculiar track is called “The Volga Delta” and features La Monte Young and his wife on bowed gong. The story tells that it was around 1964 that the Fluxus sculptor Bob Morris gave out to La Monte a large gong and, as this instrument is (to my humble knowledge) the only one that contains all the upper tones possible for each single strike of it, the gong was soon to be one of La Monte ‘s favorite instrument. Now, get it on bang a gong is okay, but if you ever wonder how you can bow a gong, this is what you would need. A standard violin bow, a single contact mike applied to the gong’s surface, an amplification system, a pair of loudspeakers and you’ll be ready to start rubbing it so softly that the gong is gonna start purring like a cat.
Six years ago, I found on the Internet Archives, a 1965 performance of “X for Henry Flynt” by Peter Winkler. This performance piece was one of La Monte’s early proto-fluxus composition and Peter Winkler decided to do it with 42 gong strikes at irregular intervals, distant each other of about 12-15 seconds. I suddenly decided, upon downloading the piece, for a little aural tribute for both Henry Flynt and La Monte Young as I do regard their musical output as standing stones on silver sand beaches.
The Winkler’s piece was 16 minutes long and I did play it back on my media player (repeat function enabled) for 42 hours continuously. No kidding. That is approximately 7896 gong bangs. I remember the days, I remember the nights and I have the feeling that I always will. It was on October 7th-8th-9th 2009. Maybe you would like to experience it too, one day, because it’s a kind of sound immersion initiatory ritual beyond any comparison. I wanted to know what it sounded like to be immersed in continuous sound for days, as I did read many stories about this peculiar La Monte Young’s life aspect.
It is not easy at all. You pass through different humoral and mental states that come and go back again like a cyclic pattern. In a way, your head too is following the gong. At times, it seems so unnerving you want to destroy your complete hi-fi system. An hour after, you are in deep self-analysis wondering how the human mind can be so ever changing and that maybe the real mindset for happiness is to become constant as the gong. Some hours later, you are in a state of grace. Never did a drug cause any similar effect on you. The gong bangs are like written pages of an unknown manuscript you are now deciphering. None of them is exactly the same. They do all sound different. Then you wonder why the gong sounds so different while your mindset is now so pretty constant.
Past the middle of the experience, all your life is connected to the gong. All your fears, your goals, your worries cannot stand on it. They do desintegrate. The radiant coda of the gong, endlessly drifting through space blow them away. Its pulse is the only thing that matter. You realize you’ve been hanging on to it. It makes you smile thinking that three hours ago you want to stop everything.
Its pulse is now your entire life. You live in between it. Like the soul of a raga lives in between the notes, your body and breath is a whole completion of gong bangs. I tried to stay awake as long as I could but yet in my sleep I did hear it. It had become my inner clock ticking. It had liberated me from the tyrannic and stressfull second that ruins everyone’s life at some point. I had entered a body of space where the natural time flow had been expanded. I had entered the land of the giant-step seconds. It was my new time. I had for the first time the deep sensation of having the time to live my life. A new gong life." [REV from a review comment]
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