This Is His Music


“The jazz world came out last week to mourn the loss of Ornette Coleman, the  saxophonist, band leader, and composer, who died on Thursday at the age of 85. Coleman was lauded as a rule-breaker and visionary who, despite initially hostile reactions from many of his peers, moved jazz past bebop conventions and into the ‘free’ explorations of the 1960s and beyond. Without Coleman, John Coltrane’s final years might have sounded very different, as would Miles Davis’ electric period, and the entire free-improvisation world down to today. … What helped make Coleman more broadly significant is that his revolution radiated beyond the boundaries of jazz to young seekers through the decades in every musical form. Musicians are widely aware of this, as reflected in the list of performers at a tribute concert in Brooklyn in 2014 that would turn out to be his last performance, who included Patti Smith, Laurie Anderson, Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, Nels Cline of Wilco, members of Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka, and even Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers. But non­–jazz listeners tend to be less cognizant of it. …”
Slate (Video)

Art Bears – Winter Songs (1979)


“In the ‘70s, the collaborative spirit seemed to have swept through the British art rock scene. Countless performers comingled on each other’s albums and, in a variety of configurations, explored similar sonic territory. This spirit of creative collaboration was perhaps most highly concentrated around the virtually unclassifiable music of Henry Cow. Serving as the nexus of a wildly experimental scene and seeing a virtual who’s-who of the avant-garde wing of British art rock, Henry Cow’s influence and ideals spread quickly during the decade in which they existed, each member popping up here and there on other artists’ albums before striking out on their own. One such collaboration subsequently morphed into one of the decade’s great art rock supergroups. As Henry Cow as a band was on its last legs, guitarist Fred Frith and percussionist Chris Cutler began working with Slapp Happy vocalist Dagmar Krause. The trio had worked together from 1975’s Desperate Straights on through the dissolution of Henry Cow prior to coming out under the Art Bears moniker in 1978 with their politically-charged brand of avant-garde art rock on Hopes & Fears. Within the span of four years the group released three albums before going their separate ways. The middle of which, Winter Songs, is often overlooked in favor of the more esoteric work bookending this collection of Medieval noise folk experimentation. …”
Rediscover: Art Bears: Winter Songs
W – Winter Songs
allmusuc (Audio)
Genius
YouTube: Winter Songs (Full Album) 45:53

Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine


“Launched from the Lower East Side, Manhattan, in 1983 as a subscription only bimonthly publication, the Tellus cassette series took full advantage of the popular cassette medium to promote cutting-edge downtown music, documenting the New York scene and advancing experimental composers of the time – the first 2 issues being devoted to NY artists from the downtown no wave scene. The series was financially supported along the years by funding from the New York State Council of the Arts, Colab and the National Endowment for the Arts. Tellus publishers – visual artist and noise music composer Joseph Nechvatal, curator, former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Philadelphia and current director of The Jewish Museum (New York) Claudia Gould and new music composer Carol Parkinson, director of Harvestworks from 1987 on – never considered running an underground culture audio publication, rather envisaging the compact cassette medium as a no wave fluxus art form in itself. This was quite a unique point of view at a time (the early 1980s), when many self-released cassettes blossomed through mail order and trade between audio artists, mail art folks and hardcore punk bands who were promoting a mostly minimalism punk inspired DIY technique of more-or-less anti-art nihilism. But Nechvatal and Parkinson had met in the mid-1970s dancing as a performance art / minimal art dance trio (with Cid Collins) influenced by the post Merce Cunningham postmodern dance/choreography of Lucinda Childs, Deborah Hay, Yvonne Rainer and Carolee Schneemann (with whom they toured Europe in 1978). And they continued to see each other in the art music milieu of the rigorous downtown minimal music scene as they worked for the Dia Art Foundation as assistants to La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela and Pandit Pran Nath. So by contrast to a lax attitude, the Tellus Audio Cassette Magazine never indulged in rank amateurism. Their audio releases were always tightly focused, well researched and aptly curated. …”
Wikipedia
UbuWeb: TELLUS CASSETTOGRAPHY (Audio)
Continuo: Tellus cassettography

News from Babel

News from Babel were an English avant-rock group founded in 1983 by Chris Cutler, Lindsay Cooper, Zeena Parkins and Dagmar Krause. They made two studio albums with several guest musicians (including Robert Wyatt) and disbanded in 1986. In the wake of English avant-rock group Henry Cow (1968–1978), Art Bears (1978–1981), a song-oriented group, was formed by three of Henry Cow’s members, drummer Chris Cutler, multi-instrumentalist Fred Frith and singer Dagmar Krause. In Art Bears’ wake, News from Babel emerged in 1983, comprising Cutler, Krause, Henry Cow woodwind player Lindsay Cooper, and United States harpist Zeena Parkins. It was Parkins’s first ‘rock group’ and the first time she had recorded with her harp. This new group followed the song-oriented approach of Art Bears, but with a different musical emphasis. Cooper composed the music and Cutler wrote the song texts. News from Babel were purely a studio group, and its formation, name and first album were inspired by literary critic George Steiner‘s 1975 book on language and translation, After Babel. Commenting on the group, Cutler said: ‘I liked the idea of a record as a letter or a newscast from a doomed but hopeful place.’ In 1983 they recorded Work Resumed on the Tower, the title referring to the Tower of Babel, with guest vocalist Phil Minton. At the same time they also recorded ‘Contraries’, a Parkins/Cutler composition released as a single with Work Resumed on the Tower subscription editions. In 1986 they made Letters Home, named after the title of one of Sylvia Plath‘s books. By this stage, Krause had left the group, but she still guested on the album, which also featured guest vocalists Robert Wyatt, Sally Potter and Phil Minton, plus guitarist Bill Gilonis from The Work, who also produced the album. Cooper’s music on both albums is a blend of rock, jazz and cabaret, while Cutler’s lyrics are literate, exploring Marxist themes and personal alienation. The group disbanded in 1986 after recording their second album. …”
Wikipedia
News From Babel – Sirens And Silences/Work Resumed On The Tower, Letters Home
Discogs (Video)
News From Babel (Lyrics)
bandcamp: Sirens And Silences/Work Resumed On The Tower (Audio), Letters Home (Audio)
YouTube: Letters Home FULL ALBUM 35:19

RēR


Recommended Records (RēR) is a British independent record label and distribution network founded by Chris Cutler in March 1978. RēR features largely ‘Rock in Opposition’ and related music, but it also distributes selected music released on other independent labels. In 1982 Cutler established November Books, the publishing wing of Recommended Records, and between 1985 and 1997, Recommended Records and November Books published RēR Quarterly, a ‘quarterly’ sound-magazine edited by Cutler. When English avant-rock group Henry Cow toured Europe between 1975 and 1977 they encountered many bands in a similar situation to their own: they were forced to operate outside the music industry that refused to recognise their music. In 1978 these groups got together and formed Rock in Opposition (RIO). To provide a record label and distribution network for these artists, Chris Cutler of Henry Cow established Recommended Records (RēR) as a model for a non-profit music company. When RIO folded as an organisation in late 1979, RēR continued RIO’s work by representing and promoting marginalised musicians and groups. RēR became a ‘virtual RIO’, and ‘part of the continuing legacy of RIO’. … When Henry Cow split up in 1978, Chris Cutler created a record label called for his own projects with a distribution arm called Recommended Distribution, so called because he personally ‘recommended’ the titles they distributed. The intention was to import and distribute new, interesting and experimental music from all over the world to the United Kingdom. In 1979, Cutler established the Recommended label for releases other than his own. In 1987, he combined the Ré and Recommended labels to form RēR, and at the same time Recommended Distribution became a worker’s cooperative enabling Cutler to concentrate on running the RéR label and writing RēR’s mail order catalogue. …”
Wikipedia
RēR