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A compilation of poems by the jazz musician and poet Sun Ra, in a bilingual edition (English / Spanish).
"The adventure began in a library that looks like a spaceship, next to a monument in the shape of a burned marshmallow that celebrates the first atomic reaction generated by humans. A plaque in the monument suggests that the powerful energy should be used for beneficial purposes. Inside this lunar library is the Special Collections Centre at the University of Chicago, that keeps the archive of Alton Abraham – Sun Ra Collection, comprising the period 1822-2008. Alton Abraham (1927-1999), entrepreneur and hospital technician, was a friend and partner of Sun Ra, and throughout his life he collected manuscripts, ephemera, artifacts, photographs and audio-visual recordings of the work of Sun Ra and his collaborators. Within the archive, which occupies 48 m of linear shelf space (146 boxes and a large folder) we found Sun Ra's wallet, containing his lawyer's business card, the insurance receipt for his car, a cabalistic amulet, and a million dollar bill perforated in the center. We also discovered Sun Ra's typed poems, with handwritten corrections and in various versions.
His poems generate a parallel geometry, a world that is precise and ambiguous at the same time. A sidereal enthusiasm made us think that the translation of his poems into our mother tongue could bring us close to his cosmos, and simultaneously allow us to share them with the Spanish-speaking firmament."
Selection and translation by Mariana Castillo Deball, Tania Islas Weinstein and Alberto Ortega.
Sun Ra (1914-1993) is an African-American experimental jazz pianist and composer. A prolific artist, he recorded over one-hundred albums with his band, the Sun Ra Arkestra. His work is imprinted with esoteric elements drawn from a personal cosmic philosophy that had a great influence on Afrofuturism.
Sun Ra: En algún lado y en ninguno – Poemas
This is the first English monograph of legendary French musique-concrete pioneer Luc Ferrari (1929-2005). Founding member of Groupe de Recherches (GRM) with Pierre Schaeffer-the group and studio were dedicated to the electronic medium that changed composition forever. This sumptuous volume includes facsimiles of Ferrari's original compositions, notebooks, and the first English translations of his writings, including poetry and fictional works and correspondence, as well as a special full-colour section that includes the composer's own collage artwork.
Ecstatic Peace Library. 406 pages
Luc Ferrari: Complete Works
This is a pre-order. Releases July 17th.
The 24th issue of the New York music magazine focuses on the figure of Sun Ra.
A quarterly journal founded in 2012 by Nate Wooley, providing in-depth interviews and essays, Sound American starts from a simple desire to open the doors of experimental music to a wider audience. Sound American believes that music is for everyone and should be shared on the most basic human level. Sound American aims to accomplish this by creating a direct intellectual, social, and emotional bridge that links audiences and artists.
Advisory board: David Grubbs, Rebekah Heller, Taylor Ho Bynum, Zeena Parkins, Matana Roberts, and Ken Vandermark.Sun Ra (1914-1993) is an African-American experimental jazz pianist and composer. A prolific artist, he recorded over one-hundred albums with his band, the Sun Ra Arkestra. His work is imprinted with esoteric elements drawn from a personal cosmic philosophy that had a great influence on Afrofuturism.
Sound American #24 – The Sun Ra Issue
The second issue of Spectres is devoted to the concept of resonances, with contributions by Maryanne Amacher, Chris Corsano, Ellen Fullman, Christina Kubisch, Okkyung Lee, Pali Meursault, Jean-Luc Nancy, David Rosenboom, Tomoko Sauvage, The Caretaker, David Toop, and Christian Zanési.
To resonate: re-sonare. To sound again—with the immediate implication of a doubling. Sound and its double: sent back to us, reflected by surfaces, diffracted by edges and corners. Sound amplified, swathed in an acoustics that transforms it. Sound enhanced by its passing through a certain site, a certain milieu. Sound propagated, reaching out into the distance. But to resonate is also to vibrate with sound, in unison, in synchronous oscillation. To marry with its shape, amplifying a common destiny. To join forces with it. And then again, to resonate is to remember, to evoke the past and to bring it back. Or to plunge into the spectrum of sound, to shape it around a certain frequency, to bring out sonic or electric peaks from the becoming of signals.
Resonance embraces a multitude of different meanings. Or rather, remaining always identical, it is actualised in a wide range of different phenomena and circumstances. Such is the multitude of resonances evoked in the pages below: a multitude of occurrences, events, sensations, and feelings that intertwine and welcome one other. Everyone may have their own history, everyone may resonate in their own way, and yet we must all, in order to experience resonance at a given moment, be ready to welcome it. The welcoming of what is other, whether an abstract outside or on the contrary an incarnate otherness ready to resonate in turn, is a condition of resonance. This idea of the welcome is found throughout the texts that follow, opening up the human dimension of resonance, a dimension essential to all creativity and to any exchange, any community of mind. Which means that resonance here is also understood as being, already, an act of paying attention, i.e. a listening, an exchange.
Addressing one or other of the forms that this idea of resonating can take on (extending—evoking—reverberating—revealing—transmitting), each of the contributions brought together in this volume reveals to us a personal aspect, a fragment of the enthralling territory of sonic and musical experimentation, a territory upon which resonance may unfold. The book has been designed as a prism and as a manual. May it in turn find a unique and profound resonance in each and every reader.
Spectres is an annual publication dedicated to sound and music experimentation, co-published by Shelter Press and Ina GRM – Groupe de Recherches Musicales.
Spectres #02 – Resonances
Edited by Lawrence Kumpf with Joe Bucciero and Mark Harwood. Contributors include Henning Christiansen, Thomas Groetz, Diedrich Diederichsen, Dick Higgins, Lars Morell, Per Kirkeby, Bjørn Nørgaard, Helmer Nørgaard, Thorbjørn Reuter Christiansen, Anton Lukoszevieze, Hans-Jørgen Nielsen, Michael Glasmeier, Ute Wasser- mann, Stíne Janvin Motland, Mark Harwood, Lucy Railton, Graham Lambkin, Áine O’Dwyer, Lia Mazzari, Ursula Reuter Christiansen, Francesco Conz, and Emily Harvey.
The third issue of Blank Forms’ journal is released in conjunction with Freedom is Around the Corner, a retrospective exhibition and performance series devoted to the work of pioneering Danish composer and artist Henning Christiansen (1932–2008).
Perhaps best known for his collaborations and artistic affinities with notable artists such as Joseph Beuys and Fluxus members like Nam June Paik and Dick Higgins, Christiansen, who worked primarily on the remote Danish island of Møn, moved beyond his Fluxus roots to create a vast, often ineffable body of work that spanned music, performance, film, and visual art over the course of a fifty-year career. Yet Christiansen’s work has remained under the radar, even in the ten years following his death: only a few of his recordings were available until recently, and his prolific compositional and visual outputs have rarely been performed or exhibited in the United States. Freedom is Around the Corner—the exhibition, the performance series, and the journal—seek to present Christiansen’s life and work in a holistic manner that befits his dynamic practice.
Like previous issues of the Blank Forms journal, Freedom is Around the Corner collects a combination of newly discovered, never-before published, and newly translated materials; in this case, many of the materials were found in the Henning Christian- sen Archive during the exhibition’s curatorial process. The issue begins with the first of four newly translated interviews with Christiansen himself, conducted circa 2006 by the German writer Thomas Groetz. Two others, conducted by Francesco Conz and Michael Glasmeier in the 1990s, come later in the issue; together these three interviews, which had only existed as audio recordings before, offer a well-rounded picture of the late-career Christiansen through his own, good-humored lens.
The fourth interview, a more experimental text conducted by Helmer Nørgaard, was originally published in Danish in the magazine DMT, in a 1986/87 issue devoted to Christiansen. In this issue we’ve created a translated facsimile of that DMT issue, which also featured texts on Christiansen by his prominent Danish collaborators, the writer Lars Morell and the artists Per Kirkeby and Bjørn Nørgaard. We hear from other Christiansen collaborators through correspondence—including in transcribed letters from Emily Harvey and Dick Higgins, whose messages to and from Christiansen were recently discovered in the Archive—and through interviews, including newly conducted interviews with his wife and longtime collaborator, Ursula Reuter Christiansen; Bjorn Nørgaard, who spoke with Christiansen’s son Thorbjørn Reuter Christiansen; and later musical collaborators Werner Durand and Ute Wassermann.
Except Nørgaard, these collaborators will all speak or perform as part of the Freedom is Around the Corner programming; a section of this issue features many of the other performers as well, younger artists who have grappled with Christiansen’s legacy. Represented through interviews (Lucy Railton), original artworks (Graham Lambkin, Áine O’Dwyer, Stíne Janvin), and essays (Mark Harwood, Anton Lukoszevieze of Apartment House), these artists demonstrate the lasting and diverse impact of Christian- sen’s work on today’s musical landscape. Lukoszevieze’s essay introduces a newly translated libretto for Dejligt vejr i dag, n’est-ce pas, Ibsen, a 1964 opera with music by Christiansen and libretto by Hans-Jørgen Nielsen which Apartment House, commissioned by Blank Forms, will perform twice during the run of the exhibition.
Taken together—and even more, in conjunction with the exhibition and performances—the texts in this journal provide an in-depth look, previously unavailable, especially in the United States, at a towering but overlooked figure in the postwar musical as well as artistic avant-garde. Support for Freedom is Around the Corner comes from the Nordic Culture Point, the Nordic Culture Fund, Snyk, the Danish Arts Foundation, the Royal Norwegian Consulate, Goethe-Institut, the Danish Consulate General, Music Norway, and Ultima Contempo- rary Music Festival.
Blank Forms Journal 3: Henning Christiansen – Freedom is Around the Corner
A biographical essay which explores the origins and influences of Charlemagne Palestine, as well as themes related to his life and artistic practice—spirituality, music, performance, avant-gardism—together with an acute analysis of his main works. The study is followed by an interview with the artist, which provides a clever balance between personal anecdotes and reflection.
Born Chaïm Moshe Palestine in Brooklyn, 1947, Charlemagne Palestine joined as a child the Stanley Sapir Jewish choir to lower the effects of his stuttering through singing. Raised in a family from Odessa, he was torn between a traditional spiritual education and his interest for all artistic experimental forms. His practice of singing, carillon bells, organ and piano allowed him to develop, as early as the 1970s, a physical and vibratory relation to space. His performative experiments function through an activation of locations, machines or organisms with which he enters into a dialogue. This state of putting into a trance his body and that of others (stuffed animals, machines, audience) participates in the creation of a performative community.
“Meshugga” is a Yiddish term used by Charlemagne Palestine to define his approach and his work's aesthetics. He refers to his recent exhibitions (at the Kunsthalle in Vienna, 2015, and at the Witte de With, 2016) whose titles, GesammttkkunnsttMeshuggahhLaandtttt, Judaise the Wagnerian idea of a total work of art. The repetition of letters, which renders the already complex articulation of the title even more difficult, is a strumming in itself, a beat of the tongue.
Charlemagne Palestine wrote intense, ritualistic music in the 1970s, intended by the composer to rub against audiences' expectations of what is beautiful and meaningful in music. A composer-performer, he always performed his own works as soloist. His earliest works were compositions for carillon and electronic drones, and he is best known for his intensely performed piano works. He also performs as a vocalist. Palestine's performance style is ritualistic; he generally surrounds himself (and his piano) with stuffed animals, smokes large numbers of kretek (Indonesian clove cigarettes) and drinks cognac.
See also Charlemagne Palestine; Charlemagne Palestine & Z'ev; Charlemagne Palestine & Rhys Chatham.Marie Canet is an independent curator, art historian and professor of aesthetics at the École des beaux-arts de Lyon.
Palestine, first name Charlemagne – Meshugga Land
A new book actualising Archie Shepp–Bill Dixon Quartet at the 8th World Festival of Youth and Students in Helsinki 1962. Including archive material and documents, commissioned theoretical and historical texts, and interviews, the book edited by Sezgin Boynik and Taneli Viitahuhta contextualizes politics of free jazz music in light of global decolonisation movements, anti-war activism, structures of racial capitalism, and forms of avant-garde music.
By focusing on concerts of Shepp–Dixon Quartet, leading avant-garde jazz musicians from the US, in the socialist anti-colonial festival in Helsinki, the book is introducing complexities in the usual Cold War stories about the sixties, and pictures politics of jazz as something transcending boundaries of nation-state and capitalist market regulations.
Apart from the theoretical and historical overview by its editors, the book includes testimonies of the collective and international spirit of the 1962 Youth Festival, translated documents from Finnish press, a new interview with Archie Shepp, commissioned text by Jeff Schwartz on the historical context of political engagement of free jazz musicians, and reproduction of three hard-to-find texts by Shepp.The book is designed by Ott Kagovere. It is 168 + 32 pages.
Free Jazz Communism - Sezgin Boynik, Taneli Viitahuhta (Eds.)
This reader brings together artistic and theoretical contributions on the instertitial nature of sound. This issue is addressed through a variety of prisms, such as format, language, politics, or new technologies.
The Middle Matter is a reader which brings together thoughts on the nature of sound; its substance, specific qualities, and potential—with a specific curiosity to its propensity to occupy the spaces in-between, the instertitial gaps between different spaces, times, cultures, and world views, between the interior body and the exterior space.
Through a number of artistic and theoretical contributions, observations are made around the notion of “audience” and the attendant questions of format, on the effects of old and new technologies, of communal working processes, and the complexity of language, the contributors reveal sound to be a material particularly apt at negotiating these zones of and between contact.
It is a large field of in-betweenness, sound travels, hops borders, passes through walls, its messages for a large part being transported involuntarily and even unconsciously. In this sense sound is extensively participative, entangled in the complicated gaps between bodies, minds and objects through and against which it resonates.
Published following the Oscillation festival, Brussels, from April 25 to May 5, 2019.
The Middle Matter – Sound as interstice
"Éliane Radigue is considered one of the most innovative and influential contemporary composers from her early electronic music through to her acoustic work of the last 15 years. Influenced by musique concrète and shaped by regular sojourns in the United States where she discovered analogue synthesizers, her work unfolds an intensity which is at once subtle and monumental. Through her deep reflections on sound and listening, not only her music but also her working methods have come to shape a widely resonating set of new parameters for working with sound as musical material.
“In the long interview that forms the body of this publication Radigue talks about her work, her reflections and underlying research as well as her historical context. The publication also contains an annotated list of works and Radigue’s programmatic text on “The Mysterious Power Of The Infinitesimal”.”
Edited by Julia Eckhardt with texts by Éliane Radigue and Julia Eckhardt. With 62 black and white illustrations.
Julia Eckhardt is a musician and curator in the field of the sonic arts. She is a founding member and artistic director of Q-O2 workspace in Brussels for which she conceptualised various thematic research projects. As a performer of composed and improvised music she has collaborated with numerous artists and extensively with Éliane Radigue. She has performed internationally and released a number of recordings. She has been lecturing about topics such as sound, gender and public space and is (co-)author of The Second Sound, Conversation On Gender and Music, Grounds For Possible Music, and The Middle Matter, Sound As Interstice.
Published by Q-O2, bilingual (English/French), softcover, 210 pp, 2019
Éliane Radigue & Julia Eckhardt – Intermediary Spaces
The Second Sound is an imaginary conversation based on the testimonies of musicians and sound artists on the role of gender and sex within their field.
Gathering anonymous testimonies from artists of different backgrounds into a single stream of (often contrary) opinions, the book addresses discrimination as a paradigm of otherness, the possibility of gendered music and sound art, and how sound artists and musicians navigate the field.
The Second Sound raises questions such as: How do life circumstances find their way into music and sound art? How does music reflect historical and social structures? What does discrimination do, and how can we navigate around it? Is the under-representation of women and LGBTQ people in the field a symptom or a cause? Is art itself gendered? And can it reflect the gender of its maker? Is a different way of listening needed to more accurately understand those voices from outside the historical canon?
Although this book raises more questions than it answers, it came to be a pledge for embracing artistic differences, for the richness of contextual listening, and for honesty in the expression of concerns and doubts. The responses seem to suggest that understanding differences by theme and not as predetermination is a way to provide freedom in a field of seemingly abstract art.
Based on the contributions of Adam Smith, Amandine Pras, Amelia Diamond, Amnon Wolman, Amy Reed, Andrea-Jane Cornell, Angela K. Roberts, Barnabas Yianni, Benjamin Mawson, Benjamin Silva-Pereira, Cedrik Fermont, Camila Durães, Carl Golembeski, Cath Meeson, Christina Clar, Claire Williams, Dave Phillips, Dell, Diamanda La Berge Dramm, Diego Garcia, Elizabeth Veldon, Frederik Croene, Furchick, Gívan Belá, Godfried-Willem Raes, Gretchen Jude, Guy De Bièvre, Hannah Reardon-Smith, Jason Kahn, Jorge Bachman, Julie Cambier, Hery Randriambololona, Hilary Jeffery, Ian Shanahan, I.v. Martinez, Jerry Gordon, Jez Riley French, Jim Denley, Joanna Bailie, Jodie Rowe, Joe Bates, Jorge Bachmann, Joseph Foster, Joseph Kudirka, José Villalobos, Julia Teles, Julie Cambier, Julito aka Magnata, Katarina Glowicka, Keenan DuBois, Korhan Erel, L.S.Rosenberg, Larissa Loyva, Liselotte Sels, Matthew Shlomowitz, Max Aggropop, Michael Tuttle, Mila Dietrich, Monica Benet, Nevin Eronde, Nurse, Okkyung Lee, Olivia Block, Omer Eilam, Pak Yan Lau, Pali Meursault, Patricia Janssen, Paula Daunt, Paulo Alves, Pei-Wen Liu, Pete Shepherd, Pia Palme, Pierre Favrez, poemproducer agf Antye Greie, Primož Sukic, Raiza Coelho, Rebecca Hunt, Roel Heremans, Romy Rüegger, Ruta Vitkauskaite, Sally Greenaway, Sarah Snider, Scott Mc Laughlin, Silvia Tarozzi, Steffi Weismann, Stijn Dickel, SusannaFerrar, Szilvia Lednitzky, Travis Johnson, Valeria Merlini, Vera Bremerton, Vesna Tomse, Wendy Van Wynsberghe...
Julia Eckhardt is a musician and curator in the field of the sounding arts. She is founding member and artistic director of Q-O2 workspace in Brussels. As a viola player, she has been involved in various collaborations with composers and improvisers, such as Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Stevie Wishart, Jennifer Walshe, Wandelweiser-composers, Christian Wolff, Antony Coleman and many of the young generation. She has taught and lectured at art institutes in Leuven and Brussels. Eckhardt is the editor of Grounds for Possible Music – On Gender, Voice, Language, and Identity.
The Second Sound – Conversations on Gender and Music
Joseph Jarman (1937 - 2019) was a saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist best known as a founding member of trailblazing avant-garde jazz group Art Ensemble of Chicago. Jarman was responsible for the Art Ensemble’s signature face paint and elaborate costumes as well as the pioneering theatrical and multimedia elements of their shamanistic performances, which could include dance, comedy, performance art, surreal pranks, and—notably—the recitation of Jarman’s poetry.
In 1977, Art Ensemble of Chicago Publishing Co. published Jarman’s Black Case Volume I and II: Return From Exile, a collection of writing conceived across America and Europe between 1960 and 1975. Comprised largely of Jarman’s flowing, fiery free verse—influenced by Amus Mor, Henry Dumas, Thulani Davis, and Amiri Baraka—the book also features a manifesto for “GREAT BLACK MUSIC,” notated songs, concert program notes, Jarman’s photos, and impressions of a play by Muhal Richard Abrams, the founder of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians of which Jarman was also an original member. Jarman writes poetry of personal revolutionary intent, aimed at routing his audience’s consciousness towards growth and communication. He speaks with compassionate urgency of the struggles of growing up on Chicago’s South Side, of racist police brutality and profound urban alienation, and of the responsibility he feels as a creative artist to nurture beauty and community through the heliocentric music that he considers the healing force of the universe. A practicing Buddhist and proponent of Aikido since a 1958 awakening saved him from the traumatic mental isolation of his time dropped by the US army into southeast Asia, Jarman sings praise for the self-awareness realization possible through the martial arts. With cosmic breath as its leitmotif, his poetry both encourages and embodies a complete relinquishing of ego. While some of the poems contained within Black Case have already been immortalized via performances on classic records by Jarman and Art Ensemble of Chicago, its republication in print form breathes new life into a forgotten document of the Black Arts Movement.
With a new preface by Thulani Davis and an introduction by Brent Hayes Edwards
8.25 x 6.75 inches
Paperback, perfect bound edition of 2,000
Joseph Jarman – Black Case Volume I and II: Return From Exile
'One of the world’s most singular guitarists, Loren Connors is among few living musicians whose prolific body of work can be said to be wholly justified in its plenitude. On more than 100 records across almost four decades, Connors has wrung distinct shades of ephemeral blues from his guitar, its sound ever-shifting while remaining unmistakably his own. From his early, splintered take on the Delta bottleneck style through his song-based albums with Suzanne Langille and on to the painterly abstraction that defines his current work, Connors has earned the admiration of many, leading to collaborations with the likes of John Fahey, Jim O’Rourke, Keiji Haino, and Kim Gordon.
In the mid-80s, Connors took a partial break from music and focused instead on the art of haiku, for which he received the Lafcadio Hearn Award in 1987. With his wife Suzanne Langille he also co-wrote an article on blues and haiku, “The Dancing Ear,” published in the Haiku Society of America’s journal. It was during this period that Connors penned the material that appears in Autumn’s Sun, a chapbook first published by Thurston Moore and Byron Coley’s Glass Eye in 1999. The text features diary excerpts from 1987, lyrically fragmented observations interspersed with haiku-like poems that paint an idyllic impression of the passing seasons in his home of New Haven, Connecticut. With synesthetic perception, Connors gazes from tranquil domestic streets. Sycamore, elm, and catalpa trees are activated by the breeze and made to rustle in unison with their natural and artificial surroundings, including the howling dogs from which Connors derived his ‘Mazzacane’ moniker. As summer fades to winter, Connors portrays death as an undramatic certitude, the flux of his own maturation reflected in musings on his son’s. Like his music, Autumn’s Sun is tender without being sentimental, conjuring those rare, delicate moments when time stands still.
5 x 7.5 inches
Paperback Edition of 1,000
This edition includes “The Dancing Ear” and an introduction by Lawrence Kumpf.
Loren Connors – Autumn's Sun
Aspirations of Madness, Blank Forms’ fifth collection of archival, unpublished, or newly translated texts, takes its title from a series of interviews with Japanese free jazz pioneer Masayuki Takayangi that were published in Japanese in 1975–76 and are published here in English for the first time. The interviews provide a rare look at Takayanagi’s eccentric practice and personality, both long under-recognized by audiences outside (and often, inside) of Japan. In this respect, the interviews speak to the goals of Blank Forms’ publication enterprise, that is, to expand upon our work in performance programming, record production, and archival preservation, and to foster new dialogues on vanguard art and music from the past 50-plus years.
The postwar Japanese history that Takayanagi describes also surfaces in this publication’s opening piece, a poetictribute by the writer and artist Louise Landes Levi to one of Takayanagi’s contemporaries, the poet Kazuko Shiraishi. Aspirations of Madness includes a second Levi poem as well, “A Deep River,” written while at La Monte Young and Marian Zazeela’s Dream House in 2003, while Charles Curtis was rehearsing Just Charles and Cello in the Romantic Chord, a composition by Young that Blank Forms plans to present in Spring 2020. Complementing this tradition of Japanese free improvisation and poetry is the republication of a 1977 interview with Joseph Jarman, the great composer, poet, and multi-instrumentalist. The interview took place a few months after the publication of Jarman’s book Black Case Volume I & II: Return from Exile, a collection of writings from 1960 to 1977 that Blank Forms had the honor of publishing in a new edition in Fall 2019.
We also feature Charles Stein’s introduction to Being = Space x Action, a crucial supplement to another recent Blank Forms publication, Poësy Matters and Other Matters by Catherine Christer Hennix. In its specificity and rarity of focus, Stein’s text offers valuable information on a vibrant artistic network of the recent past, as well as an extended look at the evolution of Hennix’s complex practice. Further along, Aspirations of Madness features an excerpt from The Tree of Music, a cross-cultural treatise by the Russian musicologist Genrich “Henry” Orlov, the English translation of which has never been published before. The Tree of Music is a sweeping philosophical study of global music and cultures with universalist and spiritualist ambitions, excerpts of which are here selected and introduced by the composer and pianist Leo Svirsky. Aspirations of Madness closes with one of Maryanne Amacher’s final pieces of writing, “The Agreement,” from 2009. The text takes the form of a letter between Amacher and the Open Ended Group, with whom she had planned to collaborate on her final, unfinished project, Lagrange: A Four Part Mini Series.
Aspirations of Madness considers the work of Masayuki Takayanagi, the poet Louise Landes Levi, musician and writer Joseph Jarman, polymath Catherine Christer Hennix and her one-time student the poet Charles Stein, Russian musicologist Henry Orlov, and Maryanne Amacher —brilliant and overlooked artists whose work Blank Forms will continue to champion in a variety of contexts. Aspirations of Madness features additional contributions by Alan Cummings, Bill Dietz, Peter Kastakis, Art Lange, Leo Svirsky, Satoru Obara, and Tomoyuki Chida, and is edited by Lawrence Kumpf with Joe Bucciero.
Blank Forms Journal 5: Aspirations of Madness
Edited by Lawrence Kumpf. Contributors and featured artists include Onyx Ashanti, Amy Cimini, Marcia Douglas, Kazuo Imai, Werner Durand, Peter Gente, Heidi Paris, Robert Ashley, “Blue” Gene Tyranny, Spencer Gerhardt, Adrian Rew, Paul Cummings, and Walter De Maria.
Taking its name from Maryanne Amacher’s visionary, unrealized opera, the fourth issue of Blank Forms’ journal, Intelligent Life, features a select group of unpublished, newly translated, or otherwise rare texts that augment our organization’s concerts, publications, exhibitions, and archival initiatives. The issue opens with a short literary essay by the author Marcia Douglas, in which a deep bass riddim guides a deaf narrator and a reincarnated Bob Marley through important sites in Rastafarianism’s development. Next come two interviews with crucial (though very different) figures in postwar avant-garde music: the Japanese guitarist Kazuo Imai and the American composer Robert Ashley, along with pianist and frequent collaborator “Blue” Gene Tyranny. The previously unpublished interview with Imai was conducted by Blank Forms’ Editor and Artistic Director Lawrence Kumpf during Imai’s first trip to the United States, in 2018, and finds the artist reflecting on recent work with the collective Marginal Consort as well as his foundational experiences playing with two other titans of Japanese experimentalism, Takehisa Kosugi and Masayuki Takayanagi. The interview with Ashley and “Blue” Gene, meanwhile, first published in German in 1984 on the occasion of a staging of Ashley’s opera Atalanta, was translated for the first time into English for this publication.
Intelligent Life continues with a series of longer pieces showcasing a diverse set of complex practices and histories, beginning with that of Detroit-based artist Onyx Ashanti. Onyx contributes his own Octavia Butler-referencing “sonocybernetic manifesto,” first published online in 2016, which exists simultaneously as theoretical treatise, memoir, and practical guide to his idiosyncratic technology-based practice. The manifesto is bolstered in this issue by a rare and extensive interview, conducted by Blank Forms’ Curatorial Assistant Adrian Rew in 2018. Following this exploration of Onyx’s life and work, the issue dives deeper into mathematics, with a comprehensive essay on Catherine Christer Hennix’s engagement with intuitionism and other esoteric approaches to math, written by the mathematician and musician Spencer Gerhardt. Gerhardt’s lucid, previously unpublished essay serves as a necessary complement to Blank Forms Editions’ forthcoming collection of Hennix’s abstruse, mostly unpublished body of writing, Poësy Matters and Other Matters.
The issue continues with a sort of titular essay, a rich analysis of Amacher’s Intelligent Life—the first such piece on this work—by Amacher scholar Amy Cimini. An incredibly prescient work that sought to upend any remaining vestiges of traditional operatic form and staging, Intelligent Life tells the story, set in 2021, of employees at Supreme Connections LLC, a futurist sonic entertainment corporation that formed following the collapse of a failed algorithmic music recommendation service. Cimini traces the technical and theoretical innovations with which Amacher imbued the work, situating it amid a detailed explication of Amacher’s still-overlooked practice. Intelligent Life—the journal issue—then concludes with a lengthy interview with the artist Walter De Maria. One of the few interviews De Maria gave in his lifetime, this one, created for the Archives of American Art in 1972, sheds significant light on De Maria’s early intellectual and artistic development as well as his work as a musician. Although he largely stopped playing music by 1970, and although few recordings of his efforts exist, De Maria played alongside musicians ranging from Lou Reed to Don Cherry to Henry Flynt, establishing himself early on as a force in jazz and avant-garde circles in both the Bay Area and New York City.
Taken together, the texts compiled here present a kaleidoscopic view of the last fifty years of experimental art and music in the United States and beyond, mining the conceptual, technical, historical, or otherwise marginal details undergirding artists’ lives, ideas, and approaches that may otherwise remain buried.
Blank Forms – Journal 4: Intelligent Life book
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback & CD, 312 pp, 2017
The English translation of legendary folk singer Mikmai Kan's autobiography is now available. The book comes with a CD of Mikami live in Sapporo in February of 2017. The book is a complete translation of Folk ni Ikiru, with additional autobiographical writing and interview material added.
Clive Bell writes in The Wire 412: "Hopkins has done a great job with a wild text. He has fleshed out the story by including extracts from Mikami's 1973 writings, plus an interview reviewing the ten records he made in the 1970s when Columbia tried repeatedly (and failed) to make him a star... The lasting impression is Mikami's passion in everything he tackles, and his thoughts about his spiritual and artistic path as he approaches his 70th birthday: 'In order to keep your essence pure, you have to become dirtier than the thing that tries to foul your pure essence'."
A Life In Folk (And Other Bitter Songs) by Kan Mikami
A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism offers a spirited introduction to the life and work of this legendary but underappreciated musician, composer, and poet. Paul Youngquist explores and assesses Sun Ra’s wide-ranging creative output—music, public preaching, graphic design, film and stage performance, and poetry—and connects his diverse undertakings to the culture and politics of his times, including the space race, the rise of technocracy, the civil rights movement, and even space-age bachelor-pad music. By thoroughly examining the astro-black mythology that Sun Ra espoused, Youngquist masterfully demonstrates that he offered both a holistic response to a planet desperately in need of new visions and vibrations and a new kind of political activism that used popular culture to advance social change. In a nation obsessed with space and confused about race, Sun Ra aimed not just at assimilation for the socially disfranchised but even more at a wholesale transformation of American society and a more creative, egalitarian world.
372 pages | 6 x 9 | 23 b&w photos | Hardcover
Paul Youngquist – A Pure Solar World: Sun Ra and the Birth of Afrofuturism
In his controversial essay on white jazz musician Burton Greene, Amiri Baraka asserted that jazz was exclusively an African American art form and explicitly fused the idea of a black aesthetic with radical political traditions of the African diaspora. In the Break is an extended riff on “The Burton Greene Affair,” exploring the tangled relationship between black avant-garde in music and literature in the 1950s and 1960s, the emergence of a distinct form of black cultural nationalism, and the complex engagement with and disavowal of homoeroticism that bridges the two. Fred Moten focuses in particular on the brilliant improvisatory jazz of John Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Charles Mingus, and others, arguing that all black performance—culture, politics, sexuality, identity, and blackness itself—is improvisation.
For Moten, improvisation provides a unique epistemological standpoint from which to investigate the provocative connections between black aesthetics and Western philosophy. He engages in a strenuous critical analysis of Western philosophy (Heidegger, Kant, Husserl, Wittgenstein, and Derrida) through the prism of radical black thought and culture. As the critical, lyrical, and disruptive performance of the human, Moten’s concept of blackness also brings such figures as Frederick Douglass and Karl Marx, Cecil Taylor and Samuel R. Delany, Billie Holiday and William Shakespeare into conversation with each other.
Stylistically brilliant and challenging, much like the music he writes about, Moten’s wide-ranging discussion embraces a variety of disciplines—semiotics, deconstruction, genre theory, social history, and psychoanalysis—to understand the politicized sexuality, particularly homoeroticism, underpinning black radicalism. In the Break is the inaugural volume in Moten’s ambitious intellectual project-to establish an aesthetic genealogy of the black radical tradition.
Fred Moten – In The Break
Stereo Sanctity is a large and personal selection of Thurston Moore's poems and lyrics, both with Sonic Youth and as a solo artist, written between 1981 and 2014 and appearing in published form in 2015 for the first time.
Signed and numbered by Thurston MoorePublished by Ecstatic Peace LibrarySoftcover, 304 pages152 x 229 mm
Thurston Moore Stereo Sanctity Lyrics & Poems Book