Recital have announced their latest slate of LP releases for September, among them rare documents of long buried and forgotten sounds from radical creators.
one — For the first time, audio works identified with the artist Geoffrey Hendricks (1931-2018) will see the open sky on Stones : Dreams. The painter and performance artist closely associated with the global Fluxus movement recorded “Rock Music” in 2014, “consist(ing) of a box of rocks being cast across a room,” included here for the first time. The LP also features “Music for Sky Slate Wall,” a 1999 performance by composer Philip Corner translating a Hendricks installation at an Emily Harvey Foundation exhibition into music. Recital’s release comes with 16 pages of essays, diaries, and artwork in an edition of 220, as well as a deluxe edition of 30, which includes a signed print by Malcolm Goldstein.
two — Towards a Total Poetry compiles stageplays and sound poems by French and Italian artists Julien Blaine, Adriano Spatola, F. Tiziano, and Paul Vangelisti performed in Los Angeles in 1980 at concerts organized by Vangelisti. The pieces are bizarre and deeply conceptual; in the words of Recital’s Sean McCann: “These are some of the strangest radio plays in existence. A format I feel is underused. The infusion of drama and comedy and open air to fill…oh, the possibilities.” Recital’s release features a 12-page booklet with essays and poetry from the artists themselves, and is available in an edition of 250.
Pre-order and read more on Stones : Dreams here and Towards a Total Poetry here, and survey the full tracklistings for both LPs below, alongside audio excerpts from each.
Stones : Dreams tracklisting:
01. Rock Music
03. Music for Sky Slate Wall
Towards a Total Poetry tracklisting:
01. “Radio” – Paul Vangelisti
02. “Los Angeles Bridge” – F. Tiziano
03. “Poeme Laser (Sitta)” – F. Tiziano
04. “Buddenbrooks” – Adriano Spatola
05. “Mots d’enfants” – Julien Blaine
06. “Amputation (XY – RP – UJ – LI)” – Julien Blaine
07. “Passé / Futur” – Julien Blaine
08. “Al Capone Poem” – Adriano Spatola
09. “Aviation Aviateur” – Adriano Spatola
10. “Auld Lang Syne” – Paul Vangelisti
How are ya’ll doing today? “Well,” I hope. Good, good. Thank ya’ll for showing up, I appreciate your audience. Here are some thoughts about why we’re all here. This kind of noise, these sounds that Matthew Sullivan has shared with us, has never “slapped,” as they say, just because it’s cerebral; contrarily, we all know, it rarely is. Legends like Graham Lambkin aren’t storytellers, they’re documentarians. We just imbue it all with our baggage. And how beautiful is that? Like how Taku Unami made me unexpectedly beam by simply recording dribbling basketballs. Like how a church organ droning over clanking folding chairs on Photographs made my dad nearly tear up because it reminded him of his mother’s music.
Throughout this decade, Sean McCann’s Recital Program has been gifting us with simple affections, reminding us why classics stay with us. Basically, if you make it sound like something that could be loved by someone for an eternity, then you’ve figured out exactly what Mozart did in his teen years. These gestures, these movements, can “move” en masse, because first they move in solitude and eventually through Community, ultimately immortalized by celebration. What Matthew has given us with this new release is himself, and maybe, if we’re lucky, we’ll recognize a bit of ourselves in there too.
Now, whether you go on from this moment in time inspired or upset or unmoved by what you hear here is inconsequential. What I think is beautiful about music like this is how obsessed with vitality it is. Have you ever noticed that? You turn a microphone outward into a world teeming with life; you turn it inward against your quivering lips; and what you end up with is unshakable. How special is that? Why would such truth be any less so than an intricately layered chorale?
I think that as listeners, as witnesses of our own resonant worlds, we’ve been far too preoccupied for far too long with consequence and invention rather than with the miracle of chance that manifests all around us. In our retrospectives, we praise originality, novelty, machinery, conquest, infrastructure. Perhaps that’s why we value our environment so little and its stakeholders so much. All of this I am reminded of through Matthew’s work, wisely presented here as nothing more and nothing less than what it is, augmented by nothing more and nothing less than our imaginations.
In closing, here are some personal reflections on Matthew, nothing more and nothing less than words extracted from vibrations:
nachos in London
midday prayer over alleys in Istanbul
grandmothers and smells and wooden ducks and books
bells rung by death in Moravia
cops in South Madison
tea and Chinese food in St. Louis
and crying and smirking and sneezing and creaking floorboards
and everywhere else
unchanged, but taller through thought
breathe and there’s always sound
revel in it
You may not believe it yet, but behind one of these three doors is the love of your life! Each door will open to a brand new album to be released this summer on Sean McCann’s Recital Program. Though they may all be beautiful, all may be released on June 7, and all may be limited editions of only 200 or 250 copies; only ONE of them will be “the one” for you. So, step right up and get ready for love! Let’s meet these three lovely ladies!
Bachelorette Number One is the first release from Albert Ayler’s violinist since the 1960s! A collection of 17th-century works of the Italian Barouqe, this record finds Michel Samson performing with his wife, Rebecca Samson, who plays what is believed to be the only existing replica of the rare, bizarre 15th-century claviorganum. This is one romantic dreamer, with nothing more than a “one true love” at its heart! Give it up for The Claviorganum & The Violin by Michel Samson & Rebecca Samson!
Bachelorette number two is a clever, vague, and overall scheming little thing. This keyboardist’s first encounter with McCann — when McCann saw him perform in 2010 — was described as “a thick ocean of chords, a penetrating grace that I can still recall.” WOWIE ZOWIE! That’s some hot stuff! This is a record that will spin you around, leave you breathless, and then kick you to the curb! Get those engines revving for The Entertainer by Alex Twomey!
Finally, Bachelorette Number Three is the perfect fit if you prefer a day of reading by your windowsill instead of a night out on the town. This collection of recordings from 1974-1981 finds an all-American poet, visual artist, and vocalist melding together and bridging between both observational recordings of the artist’s loft and intimate multichannel solo voice works. Don’t let the outside fool you! This wonderful catch is full of dense and deep wonders. Let me hear it for Gatherings by Anne Tardos!
So, my friend, what’ll it be? Do you prefer the swoon-y, wishy-washy loveboat of The Claviorganum & The Violin? The wild-hearted scandal of The Entertainer? Or perhaps the bookish enrapturer, Gatherings? What’ll it be!? True love doesn’t wait, my friend! Pick now! Any door! Just say the number! Or head on over here and pre-order whichever you’d like! After all: it’s not like you can choose ALL THREE! (Or can you???)
The Claviorganum & The Violin by Michel Samson & Rebecca Samson tracklisting:
01. “Vestiva i Colli” del Palestrina (Rognoni)
02. Sonata Quarta, Op. 8 (Marini)
03. Sonata Seconda 1631 (Fontana)
04. Sonata Seconda, “La Cesta” (Mealli)
05. Toccata per Spinettina e Violino (Frescobaldi)
06. Sonata Duodecima, Op. 16 (Leonarda)
The Entertainer by Alex Twomey tracklisting:
01. Red Zone
02. Pig Symphony
03. Fun in Vegas
04. Just Drinking
05. Work Xmas Party
06. Job’s Over
07. Velvet on Foam
08. Driving Home
09. Maybe Late
10. Family Wood
11. Young Musician
Gatherings by Anne Tardos tracklisting:
01. Refrigerator Defrosting
02. Seven-Layer Song
03. Voices from Video
04. Pipes at 110 Mercer, November 1974
05. Real Sleeper, Real Dreamer
And instead of asking, who played that flute, might we ask whose footsteps stirred the dust of the corridors near there, that room, now empty, where the piano still quivers, still, and still harboring echoes of those exercises that lingered thick leisure of the everyday? But, no longer day, is that not to ask, nor ever, for whom, then, are you playing? For whom, then, or now, are these memories meant to return?
Or, no longer memories, merely dreams? Or, of softness, or, dreaming, of light?
To return, instead of asking, did you hear beyond yourself, might we ask if you heard the limits of your sound, that sharp lightness that could sever sleep from dreaming, shivers from the skin? And is it enough that water spills from the bowl where, one might imagine, you stopped to rest, and resting, heard the metallic glimmer of arrival, long after you had thought only to leave? But the water spills, and might we retain such stillness?
Or, are our hands through which this shard of longing slips quick and resigned only able to grasp the empty air after we are overcome? But the air is not empty, is it? Does it still insist that rush of when wind got caught in the leaf’s spiraling descent? Does it still insist us into that air of gathering, where, under trees spangled with dew, light, a morning mist, you might have joined in laughter if only for in every breath the overfullness of a joy that is nothing, but breaks between lips?
Or, was it perhaps enough for you to silently observe the distance between you and the music through which the birds call only to be heard, this very distance (wing-soft brush-strokes hardly disturb it) between those, its source and us, its calling? How might a sound, unraveling its luster in dreamtime’s light forgetting, forget the lips from which it was spoken, and, settling in our listening, forget what it came to proclaim?
How did you mediate the impossible? Or, like the flute that plays for only water rippling from out of the past and the whispers that drift in its wash and waft and, waning, might we hear it, would eyelids flutter, to alight upon that elsewhere when its sleep returns us to its source?
That impossible memory of a source we call forgetting. That impossible memory of a source, we call forgetting. That impossible memory of a source we call forgetting. That impossible memory of a source we call, forgetting.
And did you know when you witnessed Bach’s Goldberg Variations, now drenched in sunlit dust-light, now merely murmurs, now simply (sweetly) receding into shadow’s swell, the flourish of a string, the tin-scratched rustling of a discordant echo ringing, and then suddenly awakening into the metronomic clamor of a clock (and softly adjacent, the peals, sonorous, of, perhaps, a morning windchime), and did you know that you, awake, were the witness of a dream?
And how did you return those sounds to us from beyond sleep, us who return from elsewhere’s noplace, vanquished, with only salt-stained cheeks to tell of our voyages to the beyond? To what depths did you travel, and further still, so as to retain, past myth’s remanence, the awakening of a world from the dream about itself? To what depths, and further still, did you travel so as to loosen the past from its image and return with its realization? What impossible memory, not of when or of where, can retain its source and, loosed from it, can return the past to the long since and longed for past?
As an answer, we hear only a whisper: I can’t wait to see… A whisper: laughing… A whisper: a dream.
Now, one November evening shortly after my mother’s death, I was going through some photographs. I had no hope of “finding” her, I expected nothing from these “photographs of a being before which one recalls less of that being than by merely thinking of him or her” (Proust). I had acknowledged that fatality, one of the most agonizing features of mourning, which decreed that however often I might consult such images, I could never recall her features (summon them up as a totality). No, what I wanted
— — as Valéry wanted, after his mother’s death — — was “to write a little compilation about her, just for myself.”
Of course, he never wrote the little compilation. Yet, here and there he gathered an image in which he recognized a fragment of his loss, her loss — her gait, her health, her glow — but never her face which is too far away, which is to say, never her being. Therefore, not only does he miss her in his loss of her in her loosing from him, but he misses her altogether, he does not find her. Confronted with her absence in the photographs he sorts but does not immerse himself in, the photographs he contemplates but does not resurrect her from, he might proclaim, That’s almost the way she was, which is somehow worse than That’s not the way she was at all.
The almost: love’s dreadful regime, but also the dream’s disappointing status — which is why I hate dreams.
Yet, despite all the vanishing and erasure that the photograph performs, Barthes writes,
… in these photographs of my mother there was always a place set apart, reserved and preserved: the brightness of her eyes.
Despite the appearance of that which will never appear again, save in dreams and the soft blur of memory, that is, despite the disappearance that the photograph enacts, there is an imparting of an essential identity. By lettering herself be photographed, she lends herself. Without restoring what has been abolished, the photograph attests that she was. Not a just image, just an image, Godard says.
Listening to these collages, quilts, and scrapbooks of travelling, curiosities of memories and memorials of cuts in time that blur their having-been into the soft twilight of their having being, I feel what Barthes felt looking at the Winter Garden Photograph of his mother: a sting, a speck, a cut,
that accident which pricks me (but also bruises me, is poignant to me).
For, to insist on an image that it is just an image, not a just image, is also to return it to what it always was, to proclaim, at least, that an image is merely and only an image, not a portable and compact form of an already inaccessible reality. Something miraculous then happens: music. When Recital’s Sean McCann, from captain Rip Hayman’s archival materials, synthesizes memories, memorials, and sounds seized during extensive travels, into this tender collage, something wondrous happens: not only music, but also the memory of music.
Like the time-traveler in Chris Marker’s imaginary film, all of a sudden, he who comes from elsewhere stumbles, and the next step it’s a year later.
Why this cut in time, this connection of memories? asks Marker, That’s just it, he can’t understand. He hasn’t come from another planet he comes from our future,
everything works to perfection, all that we allow to slumber, including memory. Logical consequence: total recall is memory anesthetized. After so many stories of men who had lost their memory, here is the story of one who has lost forgetting, and who — through some peculiarity of his nature — instead of drawing pride from the fact and scorning mankind of the past and its shadows, turned to it first with curiosity and then with compassion. In the world he comes from, to call forth a vision, to be moved by a portrait, to tremble at the sound of music, can only be signs of a long and painful pre-history. He wants to understand.
Though naturally he’ll fail, the questions are posed, they resound, and they’re on their way to sounding the depth of the question that posed them, Can we hear eternity?
Throw off your ushankas, peel away your parkas, and un-don the rest of your trashhole snow-wear — because Sean McCann’s Recital label is here to shepherd us from a dead winter into an abundant spring with two new records out in April.
Who’s on first? Well, in this case, it’s “artist and sailor” Rip Hayman with the retrospective Dreams of India & China LP. Featuring tape recordings from 1975–1986 from “installation performances, private experiments, and every ethnographic voyage in between,” the record captures memories in a dream-state at their moment of creation. It arrives April 19 on 500 limited edition LPs that include a 12-page color booklet practically driiiipping with photos and essays.
Who’s on second? Well, in this case, it’s experimental sound artist Matthew Sullivan with the Matthew LP. Featuring sound recordings from “the waters of Italy, the pubs of London, birds of Japan, a phone call in Los Angeles,” the record is a world-weary document of changing shapes and aural contours as they were lived. It arrives on April 19 on 250 limited edition LPs that include a signed insert by the artist on the softest of microfiber cloth.
Pre-order Rip Hayman’s Dreams of India & China here; pre-order Matthew Sullivan’s Matthew here. Enjoy an excerpt and tracklisting for each of the albums below, and pay special attention to the flowing and caroling of the streams and the birds, respectively. They are what will save us from the gray banks of winters hearth.
Rip Hayman – Dreams of India & China tracklisting:
Artists of any stripe would do well to gorge on humble pie — but just in case that isn’t one’s natural inclination when first getting started, a simple exposure to the life of Tom Phillips might easily do the trick. The English artist was born in London in 1937, and if you take a look at his biography, it’s hard not to be struck by both QUANTITIES and variation. He’s been producing works more or less since he was a teenager, and in the decades since that time, he’s not only painted voraciously, but he’s also dabbled in books (see his best known work A Humument), sculpture, and collage; and his lesser-known musical scores arguably follow from the very early days when he played in the school orchestra at grammar school. Phillips was an early influence on Brian Eno (musically and cover art-wise), and they’ve been sharing popcorn at the cinema ever since.
Musically, Phillips doesn’t have many formal releases under his belt, though an LP from 1975 called Words and Music certainly deserves a highlight. The first side contains four magical, and experimental, chamber music pieces that have the nostalgic feel of something that was recorded in 1970s Britain, while side B has Phillips reading passages from A Humument. The disjointed narrative kind of makes it seem like a pleasant man is reading Ulysses out loud!
All in all, another intriguing restoration from the Recital label. Pre-order the reissue of Words and Music ahead of its February 15 release here (there’s also a deluxe edition, if you’re into that), and check out the track “Selected Passages from Life of Toge” and an excerpt from “Literature for Four Pianos” below:
Words and Music tracklisting:
01. Excerpt from the Opera IRMA, Op XII
02. Literature for Four Pianos, Op XI, No 3
03. Lesbia Waltz, Op XV
04. Ornamentik, Op IX
05. Selected Passages from Life of Toge
06. Pages at Random
Sean McCann’s Recital label has had a banner year, dotted as it was with pillar releases from the likes of The Ivytree, Sarah Davachi, Cop Tears, and Karla Borecky — among a handful of others — alongside the stunning centerpiece that is the Simple Affections LP. But we’ve still got something like two months left in this ol’ beater of a year, which means Recital isn’t yet done working its magic. In fact, an entire trifecta of rare and unusual releases have worked out a spot in what remains of Recital’s 2018 McCanon, and as usual, you’ll want to catch ‘em all!
First up is a vinyl reissue of French sound artist François Dufrêne’s “impossible-to-find” album Cri-Rythmes, recorded between 1967–1972 and initially released in 1977 on cassette. Recital is issuing the record in an edition of 250 with a written tribute to Dufrêne by Bernard Heidsieck from 1983, the year after the artist’s death. Enjoy as “Dufrêne swallows the microphone, gargles the capsule, then vomits up the cables,” as any good neo-Dadaist would.
Next is a compilation of works from artist Jean Dupuy recorded from 1969–2017 called All of the Time. Recital’s LP will come in an edition of 220 and include a 20-page insert, but there’s also a special edition of 30 with an original signed drawing from Dupuy. If that’s not enough exclusive incentive for you, the record’s lead track, “Concert of Seconds,” was also recorded just for the LP! Hurry up and stake your claim on art!
Finally, Recital brings Reidemeister Move’s (Christopher Williams and Robin Hayward) sound novella Arcanum 17 to CD. Recorded in 2012 and based on André Breton’s 1945 novel, the composition brings “field recordings, whispered narration, and cloudy bass and tuba streams” together in an atmospheric mold. It’s available in an edition of 200 with a 20-page color pamphlet full of notes and photos.
All three releases arrive tomorrow, November 9. Pre-order one or all of Cri-Rythmes, All of the Time, and Arcanum 17 at the applicable (and a-click-able) links, and check out audio previews of all three alongside their full tracklistings below. Ah, 2018; you really were…something.
François Dufrêne – Cri-Rythmes tracklisting:
01. Pour La Montre, Et Contre
02. Crirythme Des Cocons Cocontractants
03. Stress Man
04. Paris–Stockholm II
05. Crirythme En Rut
Jean Dupuy – All of the Time tracklisting:
01. Concert of Seconds
02. Elle Aimait Bien Les Frites, Marguerite
04. 2 Sound Texts & 14 Songs
05. Telephone Anagrams
Wisconsin is experiencing a “heat wave,” twenty eight degrees
After weeks of double-digit below zero temperatures,
it’s finally warm enough that inside actually feels shut off from nature’s cruel expanse
Cars skid by my bedroom window, through slush and rusty metal ice;
heat vent drips acid techno;
roommate shifts a broken beat in a finicky recliner
(in counterpoint with pages of Atonement flipping in his fingers);
outside, sirens pierce through thawing air and dissipate in triplet
and death is finally melting…
and each expanding particle in my hearing threshold
is performing a part of a sublunary symphony
Each bedspring and lightbulb and door hinge: a harp string, a violin, a clarinet
A motet of mundanity unfolds at my feet and I am is its sole audience
Absent my attention, absent my affection, wind still crawls through cracks and cavities,
but for now I am here and I dictate its curtain call
From where I am (reposed), it’s a Simple Affection, like happy chance in a song without resolve
and just before I remember I have eyelids…
and I softly clap and nod into a room at peace (as long as I have felt it)
In all types of music, the breath is critical. Obviously, breathing is essential to the bodily relationship of singing or playing a wind instrument, but it goes further than that. In high school band, for example, our director would have even the percussionists breathe in time with the winds in anticipation of the first downbeat of a piece. It was a way of getting us all to enter together; simply breathing in sync was a quicker and more natural way of getting all the musicians in the room on the same mental wavelength than having us watch the baton or count in our heads.
Ian Willam Craig’s debut album A Turn of Breath exposes breath’s importance in compositions with a more abstract relation to the idea of performance: throughout the album, the breath-like rhythms of looping tape machines cycle alongside Craig’s classically-schooled singing. Juxtaposing human-produced sound alongside malfunctioning machine sounds — which bring out the “humanity” of human-created gadgets — has been a pretty rich vein of sonic exploration for years, and A Turn of Breath marked a significant contribution to the field.
Initially released way back in 2014, Craig’s now-landmark first album is getting a deluxe reissue on Recital on June 29. The reissue comes in the form of a double-vinyl set (in a limited edition of 1000) containing both the original album and the Short of Breath EP, which was originally released in the form of a limited-edition CD-R at the time of A Turn of Breath’s original release — as well as Fresh Breath, a collection of previously unreleased material recorded during the same period. The whole package will come in a gatefold sleeve featuring new artwork from Craig. Pre-order it here; then inhale, exhale, and check out the special promo video and the previously-unreleased “Heaviness Sketch in Winter” down below.
A Turn Of Breath deluxe tracklisting:
01. Before Meaning Comes
02. On the Reach Of Explanations
03. Red Gate with Starling
05. A Slight Grip, a Gentle Hold (Part 1)
06. Second Lens
07. The Edges
08. New Brighton Park, July 2013
09. TEAC Poem
10. Either Or
11. A Slight Grip, a Gentle Hold (Part 2)
12. A Forgetting Place
13. Reason Simmers Over
14. Red Gate Drifting
15. Erat Hora
16. A Slight Grip, A Gentle Hold, Pt 3
17. Either Or (Darkroom Version)
18. 6 Years, 33 Million (For Bo)
19. Heaviness Sketch in Winter
20. Genesis Device
22. Bon Voyage, Wesbrook 210
This album really deserves a full review. Maybe we’ll get there. A hope to do.
Recital, who is re-issuing Thirteen Harmonies (Cage, 1986), which was originally released by Cop Tears member Derek Baron’s Reading Group imprint back in 2016, who also just released what I found to be a really sad and stunningly affecting 3xLP set of cult figure David Wojnarowicz’s cassette tape journals, which also deserves its own blurb, or its own review—this is and isn’t just me, Thirteen Harmonies… encourages these kinds of diversions and distractions, thoughtful wanderings, quiet interjections, spaces for generous interrogation and poignant conversation. There’s community and trust, a certain romance and a kind of platonic lust for the late morning, the early evening, a folder full of sheet music stuffed full and spilling—describes the release “as regal as bored as humble as confused.” An album of loose drafts so perfectly and circumstantially complete.
I remember when you first sent me this album and I listened to it so much. Still reminds me of you. I remember when someone posted a picture of the original CD-r to their Instagram story and I was jealous that they had it but I can’t remember who. I remember when someone texted me about this album and I replied, “I wish I had this.” Now I do. Thank you.
Buy it here and read more about the release in the wonderful words of Baron below:
Thirteen Harmonies is a selection from John Cage’s 44 Harmonies From Apartment House 1776, written for the American bicentennial, which itself is a selection of pieces in the colonial and early American choral canon. Arranged for double bass, electric guitar, and flute, from the arrangement for keyboard and violin, from the original four-part chorale, Thirteen Harmonies is an arrangement of a reduction of an arrangement of a reduction. The choral composers whose works were the material for Cage’s Apartment House were considered the avant-garde of choral music of the 18th century, and their music became the seed of Sacred Harp music, a radical lay tradition of the rural American south. John Cage composed the harmonies by way of erasure of the Protestant chorales and set them in an “apartment house” among other American voices: Native American ritual music, slave spirituals, and Sephardic incantations. What binds the lay experimentalism of William Billings and his contemporaries (all white American men) to the ‘multiplicity of centers’ of the Apartment House of John Cage (a white American man) is the destruction of a privileged musical space, the making-permeable of the division between the music of the piece and the sound of the people coming together to make the music of the piece. A positive destabilizing from within. Thirteen Harmonies was recorded live on two consecutive mornings in 2016 to a faulty 4-track on bled-through tape in Cameron’s apartment house in Queens, New York.