RE:Up Magazine (Manual 005) - Open Up With An Epiphany

Epiphanies are magic moments that flash lightning. They may pass in an instant but the waves ripple permanently through one’s existence. For music minded folks, epiphanies have extra impact, unlocking amazing worlds that send unsuspecting ears in fresh directions. The finest thing about epiphanies is you never know when they’ll strike. Shining sounds wait around secret corners ready to blow open the spectrum. These rare experiences can assume the form of cousin Cindy playing a Fela Kuti tune on farfisa, a brook babbling the beat to Billie Jean, or psychic gypsies stroking fiddles outfitted with sitar strings. Mine weren’t quite that colorful but they did leave me reeling. In fact the impact was so heavy I thought it would be nice to explore the phenomenon with you. We asked a few fellow timbre travelers to share sonic milestones that molded their audio aesthetic. Soak it up and prepare yourself for that next inevitable revelation. (Frosty)


Last week, I saw Christian Marclay give a presentation on his work here in NY and drank as much free wine as I could get my hands on (there were also these really deliciously spicy trail mixes in the back of the room with like, dried peas, but that’s not the point). So, he prefaced his lecture by specifying he was a visual artist exploring possibilities with music and sound rather than a “musician” possessing what he believed were the “necessary tools” to write.

Accordingly, he opened with an early video piece of his entitled “Record Players.” Here, he recorded the audio and visual result of about 8 participants removing random records from their sleeves, scratching their vinyl surface with fingernails, rapidly waving them back and forth or smashing them together, and finally cracking them in half and stepping on shards of what remained of the once-thrift-store-jewels.

Besides crafting a sonically interesting piece and commenting on the state of recorded music (you have to remember this was done in the mid-eighties when MTV wasn’t just a retarded commercial for itself and vinyl was still cherished as a medium by people other than pasty music geeks and crate-diggers), this was one of the most inventive extrapolations of musique concrete I’ve ever seen. Here are all these motherfuckers- including myself- looking for sounds and surface noise, and here he comes using the record for the potential music it can make ITSELF. When asked if the recording on the LP made any difference to him, he said no, even priding himself on unknowingly destroying a yellow Jimi Hendrix Are You Experienced LP that would probably go for a few hundred dollars today on eBay. So, with far too many records being released each year, why not just destroy music to hear what it sounds like?

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