HARDHOUND

Laurie Anderson – United States I-IV live

Author: Colin | Published: 18/9/11

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Laurie Anderson - United States live

Artist Laurie Anderson
Title United States I-IV live
Label Warner Brothers
Year 1983
Design Laurie Anderson; cover photos: Lynn Goldsmith
Music Sui generis
Notes Where does one start with a subject like Laurie Anderson’s United States? It’s a magnum opus, a sprawling patchwork quilt laid over the world’s last remaining superpower. A country that was still at cold war with the Soviet Union when it was recorded in 1983. It’s a work of tremendous breadth that combines politics, humour, performance art, modern composition, musique concrete, electronica, improvisation, beautiful melodies, haunting exposition, oblique reflection and much more. In terms of structure, United States may be understood as an application of Brion Gysin and William S. Burroughs’ cut-up technique writ large (Burroughs, with whom she danced in Home of the Brave appears here via Language Is A Virus from Outer Space).

United States is also an audio-visual feast that featured Anderson’s use of dime-store technologies to achieve playful and often thought-provoking effect. Witness the small light in the artist’s mouth on the cover, the tape bow violin, the skull percussion piece, the goggles with torches instead of lenses. Each, more or less oblique and more or less resonant.

United States is an edited documentation of Laurie Anderson’s performance which spanned two consecutive nights at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. After it came the album of studio re-recordings of some key works in the set, Big Science. It’s difficult to imagine how Warner Brothers came to sign such an artist, even more difficult to picture how the beautiful and tremendously minimal O Superman, released as a single and played by John Peel, reached number 2 in the UK charts. After Big Science came the gorgeous Mister Heartbreak and numerous further projects from a voice part in Rugrats The Movie, the Puppet Motel CD-ROM and work with Nam June Paik, Spalding Gray and a host of others.

It would be wonderful to see a visual recording of the whole performance, nothing of the sort has been published. Try listening to United States in combination with Philip Glass and Robert Wilson’s Einstein on the Beach.

More - Wikipedia entry
- Official website
Listen

Thalassing

Author: Colin | Published: 10/9/11
Previous Lech Jankowski – Institute Benjamenta Next Laurie Anderson – United States I-IV live

Thalassing

Thalassing

Thalassing

Thalassing

Thalassing

Thalassing

Artist Thalassing
Title Thalassing
Label Clay Pipe Music
Year 2012
Design Frances Castle
Music Music made on accordion, piano and guitars improvised in one night in front of projections of the sea…
Notes Clay Pipe’s second release is as lovely as its first, this time the ocean replacing the city. Jelly fish and other sea fauna float and swim in the darkness beneath lighthouses and distant aeroplanes.

Sorry for the absence of the lovely green ribbon that once girded the cover, it disappeared without trace soon after arriving at Hard Format villas.

Listen Thalassing
Also - The Hardy Tree, The Fields Lie Sleeping Underneath

Lech Jankowski – Institute Benjamenta

Author: Colin | Published: 3/9/11
Previous Goran Kajfeš – XY Next Thalassing

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Lech Jankowski - Institute Benjamenta

Artist Lech Jankowski
Title Institute Benjamenta
Label Atelier Koninck
Year 1994
Design Uncredited, probably Brothers Quay
Music Soundtrack
Notes I’m a longtime fan of the Brothers Quay’s work, from their short films to this, their first feature and its successor, The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes. Institute Benjamenta stars the luminous Alice Krige as the tragic heroine Lisa Benjamenta and Mark Rylance as the puzzled, mischievous Jakob Von Gunten, eponymous hero of Robert Walser’s novel. The film is as much a dream-like reflection on Walser as it is an interpretation of his novel about a school for servants.

This CD is sadly long out of print, but the crepuscular music, one of my favourite soundtracks, may be found online by the determined searcher. Although Jankowski was a favoured collaborator, something seems to have gone badly wrong as none of his music was used for The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes, the library music for Chris Marker’s La Jetée being substituted instead.

The design of this CD is a typographic joy, unafraid to cram text and image together in the confined spaces allowed by the jewel-case. Informed by Polish culture and the films of Jan Svankmajer, the Quay’s abstraction, deep sense of light and fascination for microscopic movement transcend their influences to produce a timeless, haunted narrative. After years of being very hard to find, the film has just been re-released as a joint Blu-Ray/DVD by the BFI and is hugely recommended.

Watch
Listen Finale

Lullaby/Waltz

Also Simon Fisher Turner – Caravaggio