La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela - Dream House 78' 17
This classic minimal music album is now available again on vinyl for the first time since the 70s. La Monte Young, widely acknowledged as the father of musical minimalism, is one of the most influential contemporary composers. Yet he has strictly monitored his own discography and his music is rarely heard. Born in a log cabin in rural Idaho in 1935, Young became a key figure in the New York underground art scene of the early 1960s. He made vital contributions to the Fluxus movement and initiated the use of lofts as performance venues. Most important of all, his exploration of sustained tones, unorthodox tuning, high volume and long duration changed the course of twentieth-century music and ushered in new ways of listening. This LP, initially issued on the French Shandar label in 1973, is a crucial document, preserving two manifestations of Young‰۪s pioneering creative imagination. Each side stretches out to the standard length of an entire long-playing record. Listening to the sounds captured in each groove you are lifted out of routine temporality into a prolonged and personal here and now, an intimate kind of time that no clocks can measure. On the first side is a performance by the Theatre of Eternal Music, the group which Young formed specifically to realise his radical musical conception. The name was coined in February 1965 to indicate that this ecstatic droning music had neither beginning nor end, that it came from and returned to a state of silence, where it lingers in its full potential until some musicians play its component tones once again. The group‰۪s line-up, which changed over the years but always featured Young and his partner Marian Zazeela, boasted such luminaries of new music as Tony Conrad, Terry Riley and John Cale. Cale carried lessons learnt from Young into his work with the Velvet Underground, and through that seminal group to new generations of indie rockers and noise experimentalists. On this recording the voices of Young and Zazeela are combined with the trombone of Garrett List and the trumpet of Jon Hassell, now more widely known through his work with Brian Eno. Although the immediate impression created by the music is that it changes little, close listening reveals intricate activity in the high harmonics where unexpected patterns and phantom melodies skitter across the surface of the music‰۪s enveloping drone. Young and Zazeela developed their vocal technique through intensive study with North Indian singing master Pandit Pran Nath, and traces of that influence can be heard in their subtle ornamentation of the sustained tones. Sine waves provide the basic threads that hold together The Tortoise, His Dreams And Journeys. Sine waves unadorned form the Drift Study on the second side of the LP. Such pieces were conceived as continuous sound environments. Since 1962 Young has nurtured the notion of a Dream House, in which such work might be installed, playing continuously and taking on a life of its own. To a seated listener this Drift Study appears a very pure form of minimalist musical drone, but move around the space in which the piece is playing and you will hear dramatic variation in the loudness of different frequencies, while your movement will itself alter the structure of air molecules in the room, affecting the way the piece is heard. It‰۪s a fascinating probe into the nature of sound, hearing and spatial awareness. The Shandar label, under the musical direction of French musicologist Daniel Caux, produced a small but select catalogue. It includes recordings by Albert Ayler, Terry Riley, Sun Ra, Philip Glass, Cecil Taylor, Steve Reich and Charlemagne Palestine. During the early 1970s this was the cutting edge of new music, and today these recordings are still challenging, uplifting and revelatory. This reissue preserves the original artwork, an integral part of that special Shandar magic but also a fine example of the design sense and calligraphic grace that Marian Zazeela has brought to the presentation of La Monte Young‰۪s singular music.åÊåÊ ‰Û÷My own feeling is that if people aren‰۪t carried away to heaven I‰۪m failing,‰۪ La Monte Young in 1966.