[spectre] Podcast: Chris Brown goes through the amazing network of improvisers and computer music pioneers in the West Coast in the 80s

Radio Web MACBA rwm2008 at gmail.com
Fri Jun 11 11:03:55 CEST 2021

*Podcast: INTERRUPTIONS #2. Once Upon a Time in CA, by Chris Brown (The
Automatic League of Music Composers, The Hub, Laetitia Sonami...)*
A spaghetti western about experimental music on the West Coast in the 1980s.

Link: http://rwm.macba.cat/en/curatorial/interruptions_chris_brown/capsula

Related info/playlist:

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
*Chris Brown*

*Follow us at http://twitter.com/Radio_Web_MACBA

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