Blocks of Conciousness and The Unbroken Continuum
Book + DVD.
Editors: Brian Marley and Mark Wastell.
Published by Sound 323. [link]
341 printed pages – full colour. Hardback. ?50
What is the most significant development that has occurred in adventurous music during the last decade? It’s arguably neither a technique-driven development nor a technological one. Rather, it’s how we, musicians and audience alike, have opened our ears to the world and embraced its sounds as both a musical resource and as music itself. Blocks of Consciousness and The Unbroken Continuum explores the work and aesthetic of various cutting edge musicians, environmental/sound artists and noise-makers. As well as profiles of Richard Chartier, The Necks, John Wall and Sachiko M, the book contains explorations of the history and changing nature of free improvisation, of Cage’s iconoclastic 4’33”, and of where to draw the line (somewhat tentatively, to be sure) between improvisation and composition. There is, in addition, a series of personal statements by almost two dozen musicians, composers and sound artists, collected by Rhodri Davies; and in Out in the Field Bertrand Denzler and Jean-Luc Guionnet interview improvisers about their music and group the anonymised answers thematically. The authors of the principal chapters – David Toop, Clive Bell, Brian Marley, Dan Warburton, Andy Hamilton and Will Montgomery – are well-known and respected writers on music/sound. Machines, noise and improvisation are factors common to all of the chapters in the book. David Reid’s DVD selection of video performances also carries this theme. The performances, all filmed during the last five years and part of his growing archive, represent a diverse range of musicians and their musics. Note, however, that the DVD content is neither illustrative of nor subordinate to the written material in the book; it comprises a chapter in its own right. A feature of Blocks of Consciousness and The Unbroken Continuum that will be much remarked upon is Damien Beaton’s lavish design, which makes the book so much more than a mere receptacle for words.
Introduction by the editors. Brian Marley – John Cage: Qualities of Silence. Rhodri Davies – What are you doing with your music? Answers to this question supplied by Otomo Yoshihide / Phil Durrant / Annette Krebs / Graham Halliwell / Xavier Charles / Bernhard Günter / Andrea Neumann / Lee Patterson / Sean Meehan / Matt Davis / Mattin / Ruth Barberán / Burkhard Beins / Isabelle Duthoit / Jérôme Noetinger / Angharad Davies / Takehiro Nishide / Nikos Veliotis / James Saunders / Johan Berthling / Taku Unami / Steve Roden / Margarida Garcia. Clive Bell – Sachiko M: Ah, the Sweet Torture. Dan Warburton – Les Instants Composés. Andy Hamilton – The Necks. David Reid – Performances – video chapter (see below). Brian Marley – John Wall: The Rocky Road to cphon. Bertrand Denzler and Jean-Luc Guionnet – Out in the Field. Will Montgomery – On the Surface of Silence: Reticence in the Music of Richard Chartier. David Toop – The Feeling of Rooms.
DVD features live concert performances from: Keith Rowe, Evan Parker, Birdyak (Bob Cobbing, Lol Coxhill, Hugh Metcalfe, Jennifer Pike), John Tilbury, Anton Lukoszevieze & Eddie Prévost, Broken Consort (Matt Davis, Rhodri Davies, Mark Wastell), Jérôme Noetinger, John Butcher, Tetuzi Akiyama, Nmperign (Greg Kelley and Bhob Rainey).