[spectre] "Once Upon a Time in CA", a mix by Chris Brown (THE HUB, The League of Automatic Composers...)

Radio Web MACBA rwm2008 at gmail.com
Mon Jan 24 13:18:41 CET 2011

*INTERRUPTIONS #2. Once Upon a Time in CA. *
*A mix curated by Chris Brown*

Link: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/curatorial?id_capsula=798

Just as the struggle for the Western U.S. in the late 19th century revolved
around the construction of the railroad, the struggle for global domination
was waged around the development of the new electronic communication
technologies during the late 1970s and 1980s in Silicon Valley. It was a
free-wheeling time for start-ups run out of garages by a bunch of
do-it-yourself geeks and venture capitalists. Hanging around its edges and
feeding off the surplus of its aircraft and electronics industries, a gaggle
of music experimenters were dreaming of a future where technology might
enable new kinds of musical freedom – freedom from orchestras and scores,
freedom from scales and temperament, freedom from the academy, freedom from
the music business, and, most of all, freedom for noise. Free improvisation
was the lingua franca where jazz musicians, junk percussionists, instrument
inventors, and computer hackers could come together to play.

It was within this rag-tag musical stew that six idealist musicians, seduced
into computer programming, connected their primitive 8-bit microcomputers
into a network in search of complexly beautiful, automated behaviors. They
were inspired by the home-brew orchestra of Harry Partch, the indeterminacy
of John Cage, the electronic noise of David Tudor, with side helpings of the
mysterioso of Captain Beefheart and the sonic ritual of Sun Ra. Living
within a hippie backwash nirvana philosophy but confronted by the reality of
wars launched from their own backyards into El Salvador and Nicaragua, their
music was a quixotic swords-into-plowshares fantasy morphing uncontrollably
into shouts of joy and rage. Lest there be any doubt that this was still the
Wild, Wild West, in 1978 one politician climbed through a window into San
Francisco's City Hall carrying a loaded handgun, shot its mayor and recently
elected gay supervisor pointblank, and was later acquitted of first-degree
murder for both crimes based on the 'Twinkie' junk-food diminished capacity
defense. The AIDS epidemic emerged to cut a swath through the arts
community, fueling both its paranoia and intensity. The Disney cult lured
ever in the background, an implacable siren of pop. Still, the beauty of
chaos remained a passionate quest that promised an escape from too much
control, and not enough nature. Can musical life arise from industrial
waste? Does harmony exist within the interactive chatter of cane reeds,
bronze rods, computer algorithms, and resonating streams of electrons?

This podcast presents one insider participant's movie of this
once-upon-a-time musical scene. Excerpts from public performances, home and
garage recording sessions, and parking lot sound installations are mingled
like so many strands of pasta, sprinkled with bits cheese from a Sergio
Leone soundtrack to provide epic flavor. Moments of coincidence among
impossible sonic bedfellows created the sauce. The recipe for this
California home-grown dish can be found here:

Link: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/curatorial?id_capsula=798
Related info:

*On Chris Brown: *
Chris Brown is a composer, pianist, and electronic musician, who creates
music for acoustic instruments with interactive electronics, for computer
networks, and for improvising ensembles. Collaboration and improvisation are
consistent themes in his work, as well as the invention and performance of
new electronic instruments. Recordings of his music are available on Tzadik,
Pogus, Intakt, Rastascan, Ecstatic Peace, SIRR, and Artifact labels. He
teaches at Mills College in Oakland, California where he is Professor of
Music and Co-director of the Center for Contemporary Music (CCM).

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