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Jin Yufeng and experimental musician Wei Wei (aka Vavabond) have translated Derek Bailey’s Improvisation: Its Nature And Practice In Music into Chinese. Edited by the Shenzhen shop and record label Old Heaven Books, Improvisation is published by China Academy Of Art Press. Its publication was marked by a Bailey tribute, Improvisation For Improvisation, that closed 2019's Tomorrow Festival on 19 May, featuring Tomorrow Improvisation Unit with bassist Mamer, guitarist Li Jianhong, saxophonist/flautist Lao Dan, saxophonist Wang Ziheng and members of Guru Guru.
Originally published in 1980, Bailey’s Improvisation examined the meaning and methods of improvising music in all its forms, drawing on conversations with Han Bennink, John Zorn, Jerry Garcia, Steve Howe, Steve Lacy and more. The cover art (above) of the Chinese edition was done by woodcut artist Liu Qingyuan, who also produced the artwork for Shenzhen’s 2nd Tomorrow Festival back in 2015.
Derek Bailey – Improvisation - Its Nature and Practice in Music (translated by Jin Yufeng & Wei Wei)
Microgroove continues John Corbett's exploration of diverse musics, with essays, interviews, and musician profiles that focus on jazz, improvised music, contemporary classical, rock, folk, blues, post-punk, and cartoon music. Corbett's approach to writing is as polymorphous as the music, ranging from oral history and journalistic portraiture to deeply engaged cultural critique. Corbett advocates for the relevance of "little" music, which despite its smaller audience is of enormous cultural significance. He writes on musicians as varied as Sun Ra, PJ Harvey, Koko Taylor, Steve Lacy, and Helmut Lachenmann. Among other topics, he discusses recording formats; the relationship between music and visual art, dance, and poetry; and, with Terri Kapsalis, the role of female orgasm sounds in contemporary popular music. Above all, Corbett privileges the importance of improvisation; he insists on the need to pay close attention to “other” music and celebrates its ability to open up pathways to new ideas, fresh modes of expression, and unforeseen ways of knowing.
John Corbett is a music critic, record producer, and curator. He is the author of Extended Play: Sounding Off from John Cage to Dr. Funkenstein, also published by Duke University Press. His writing has appeared in Downbeat, The Wire, the Chicago Reader, and numerous other publications. He is the co-owner of Corbett vs. Dempsey, an art gallery in Chicago.
John Corbett - Microgroove
In People Get Ready, musicians, scholars, and journalists write about jazz since 1965, the year that Curtis Mayfield composed the famous civil rights anthem that gives this collection its title. The contributors emphasize how the political consciousness that infused jazz in the 1960s and early 1970s has informed jazz in the years since then. They bring nuance to historical accounts of the avant-garde, the New Thing, Free Jazz, "non-idiomatic" improvisation, fusion, and other forms of jazz that have flourished since the 1960s, and they reveal the contemporary relevance of those musical practices. Many of the participants in the jazz scenes discussed are still active performers. A photographic essay captures some of them in candid moments before performances. Other pieces revise standard accounts of well-known jazz figures, such as Duke Ellington, and lesser-known musicians, including Jeanne Lee; delve into how money, class, space, and economics affect the performance of experimental music; and take up the question of how digital technology influences improvisation. People Get Ready offers a vision for the future of jazz based on an appreciation of the complexity of its past and the abundance of innovation in the present.
Contributors. Tamar Barzel, John Brackett, Douglas Ewart, Ajay Heble, Vijay Iyer, Thomas King, Tracy McMullen, Paul D. Miller/DJ Spooky, Nicole Mitchell, Roscoe Mitchell, Famoudou Don Moye, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Eric Porter, Marc Ribot, Matana Roberts, Jaribu Shahid, Julie Dawn Smith, Wadada Leo Smith, Alan Stanbridge, John Szwed, Greg Tate, Scott Thomson, Rob Wallace, Ellen Waterman, Corey Wilkes
Edited by Ajay Heble; Rob Wallace; Rob Wallace – People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz Is Now!
The Fierce Urgency of Now links musical improvisation to struggles for social change, focusing on the connections between the improvisation associated with jazz and the dynamics of human rights struggles and discourses. The authors acknowledge that at first glance improvisation and rights seem to belong to incommensurable areas of human endeavor. Improvisation connotes practices that are spontaneous, personal, local, immediate, expressive, ephemeral, and even accidental, while rights refer to formal standards of acceptable human conduct, rules that are permanent, impersonal, universal, abstract, and inflexible. Yet the authors not only suggest that improvisation and rights can be connected; they insist that they must be connected.
Improvisation is the creation and development of new, unexpected, and productive cocreative relations among people. It cultivates the capacity to discern elements of possibility, potential, hope, and promise where none are readily apparent. Improvisers work with the tools they have in the arenas that are open to them. Proceeding without a written score or script, they collaborate to envision and enact something new, to enrich their experience in the world by acting on it and changing it. By analyzing the dynamics of particular artistic improvisations, mostly by contemporary American jazz musicians, the authors reveal improvisation as a viable and urgently needed model for social change. In the process, they rethink politics, music, and the connections between them.
Daniel Fischlin, Ajay Heble, George Lipsitz – The Fierce Urgency of Now: Improvisation, Rights, and the Ethics of Cocreation
"In its open improvisations, lapidary lyrics, errant melodies, and relentless pursuit of spontaneity, the British experimental band Henry Cow pushed rock music to its limits. Its rotating personnel, sprung from rock, free jazz and orchestral worlds, synthesized a distinct sound that troubled genre lines, and with this musical diversity came a mixed politics, including Maoism, communism, feminism and Italian Marxism. In Henry Cow: The World Is A Problem Benjamin Piekut tells the band’s story – from its founding in Cambridge in 1968 and later affiliation with Virgin Records to its demise ten years later – and analyses its varied efforts to link aesthetics with politics. Drawing on 90 interviews with Henry Cow musicians and crew, letters, notebooks, scores, journals and meeting notes, Piekut traces the group’s pursuit of a political and musical collectivism, offering up its history as but one example of the vernacular avant garde that emerged in the decades after World War Two. Henry Cow’s story resonates far beyond its inimitable music: it speaks to the avant garde’s unpredictable potential to transform the world."
Benjamin Piekut is Associate Professor of Music at Cornell University, author of Experimentalism Otherwise: The New York Avant-Garde And Its Limits and editor of Tomorrow Is The Question: New Directions In Experimental Music Studies.
Benjamin Piekut – Henry Cow: The World is a Problem
This two-volume set, Poësy Matters and Other Matters, presents selected texts by the Swedish polymath Catherine Christer Hennix. Volume one, Poësy Matters, is divided into two sections: poetry and drama, with each section also containing pieces of commentary by Hennix or her longtime collaborator Henry Flynt. Volume two, Other Matters, is divided into two sections: first, program notes and essays about a wide range of topics (including music, psychoanalysis, and mathematics), and second, a reproduction of Hennix’s 1989 work The Yellow Book.
The first comprehensive publication of Hennix’s written work, Poësy Matters and Other Matters illustrates the singular depth and variety of her contributions to contemporary music, art, literature, and mathematics. Best known as a composer, Catherine Christer Hennix has, throughout her fifty-plus-year career, produced innovative work in the fields of not just minimal and computer music, but psychoanalytic theory, intuitionist mathematics, poetry, and prose as well. Born in Stockholm in 1948, Hennix became involved with the local jazz and electronic music communities while in her teens, meeting visiting musicians such as Eric Dolphy and Albert Ayler, studying with trumpeter Idrees Sulieman, and becoming a member of the Elektronmusikstudio. In the late 1960s Hennix traveled to New York City, where, through Åke Hodell, she met Dick Higgins and, in turn, many other members of the New York avant-garde, including La Monte Young, who would become a formative figure for Hennix and introduce her to both Henry Flynt and her eventual guru, Pandit Pran Nath.
In the ensuing decades Hennix has continued to compose and perform music in a variety of formations, including in Flynt’s Dharma Warriors, a quartet with Arthur Rhames, and more recently, with her own Chora(s)san Time-Court Mirage. Hennix’s ongoing explorations of mathematics, meanwhile—namely, the work of L.E.J. Brouwer—have led to teaching positions at SUNY-New Paltz and at MIT, and an extended collaboration with Alexander Esenin-Volpin.
The texts in Poësy Matters and Other Matters reflect Hennix’s diverse training as well as her long-standing personal interests in La- canian psychoanalysis and Japanese and Middle Eastern poetic forms, resulting in a rich, diffuse collection of writings that reveal one of the avant-garde’s most implacable, not to mention overlooked, creative minds.
Edited, with an introduction by Lawrence Kumpf
2 individual books, packaged together
311 pages, 448 pages
6.75 x 9.5 inches
Paperback Edition of 1,000
Catherine Christer Hennix – Poësy Matters and Other Matters
Brand new book featuring photos of Peter Brötzmann at Cafe OTO taken over the past decade by Dawid Laskowski. With text by John Chantler, Hamish Dunbar, Heather Leigh and Seymour Wright.
64x240, 96 pages, 1+1, 150 gsm G print, 2 cover with 4 pages 1+1, 300 gsm munken pure rough, sewed book, with open spin.
Dawid Laskowski – Brötzmann at OTO
"Presented by Sacred Realism Press, D=D is the culmination of 15 years of work and the latest and most ambitious installment of Bryan Eubanks and Joe Foster's Don (now Dan) Brown and Dan Reynolds' project. The book itself contains 391 pages of letters, notes, aphorisms, scores, images, and commentary from Brown and Reynolds, with contributions from related figures including Jenny Haniver, Tim Bradley, and of course Gwendolyn Lovequist and Jack Lunetti, offering furtive glimpses into the thoughts, work, and lives of these still under-recognized figures of contemporary American music. While it might be tempting to see D=D as epistolary speculative biography it also may call to mind the heteronyms of writers like Fernando Pessoa and especially Antoine Volodine. But make no mistake --D does equal D and everything is as it seems.
The accompanying audio CD compiles Eubanks and Foster's interpretations of Brown and Reynolds' Holy and Old musics, respectively, bookended by two cassette recordings from the composers themselves, which should be of special appeal to listeners with an interest in never before exposed corners of American West Coast musical experimentation and iconoclasm."
mixed by Joe Foster & Bryan Eubanks, Berlin 2018mastered by Dick Stormm, the Bronx 201910 tracks, total running time: 52:28391 page hard cover book with glass mastered CD, edition of 500
release date: April 17th, 2019
Don Brown & Dan Reynolds – D=D
Experimentations provides a detailed historical and theoretical analysis of the first three decades of experimental composer John Cage's aesthetic production (ca. 1940-1972). Paying particular attention to Cage's inter- and cross-disciplinary engagements with the visual arts and architecture during this period, the book sheds new light on some of Cage's most controversial and influential innovations, such as the use of noise, chance techniques, indeterminacy, electronic technologies, and computerization, as well as upon lesser known but important ideas and strategies such as transparency, multiplicity, virtuality, and actualization.
Ultimately, it traces the development of Cage's avant-garde aesthetic and political project as it transformed from the emulation of historical avant-garde precedents such as futurism and the Bauhaus, to the development of important precedents for the post-World War II movements of happenings and Fluxus, to its ultimate abandonment in the aftermath of problems encountered in the vast, multimedia composition HPSCHD (1967-69).
Branden Wayne Joseph – Experimentations : John Cage in Music, Art, and Architecture
In this first installment of acclaimed music writer David Toop's interdisciplinary and sweeping overview of free improvisation, Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom: Before 1970 introduces the philosophy and practice of improvisation (both musical and otherwise) within the historical context of the post-World War II era. Neither strictly chronological, or exclusively a history, Into the Maelstrom investigates a wide range of improvisational tendencies: from surrealist automatism to stream-of-consciousness in literature and vocalization; from the free music of Percy Grainger to the free improvising groups emerging out of the early 1960s (Group Ongaku, Nuova Consonanza, MEV, AMM, the Spontaneous Music Ensemble); and from free jazz to the strands of free improvisation that sought to distance itself from jazz. In exploring the diverse ways in which spontaneity became a core value in the early twentieth century as well as free improvisation's connection to both 1960s rock (The Beatles, Cream, Pink Floyd) and the era of post-Cagean indeterminacy in composition, Toop provides a definitive and all-encompassing exploration of free improvisation up to 1970, ending with the late 1960s international developments of free music from Roscoe Mitchell in Chicago, Peter Brötzmann in Berlin and Han Bennink and Misha Mengelberg in Amsterdam.
David Toop Into the Maelstrom: Music, Improvisation and the Dream of Freedom before 1970
Mayhem are the most influential Black Metal band in the world, and obviously no strangers to controversy. Death Archives offer never before seen photographs and unique insight into one of music’s most extreme subcultures.During the band’s ongoing career, now spanning thirty years, bass player and only surviving band member from the original line-up, Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud, has collected enormous amounts of photographs, video diaries and memorabilia. In this unique documentary book, Stubberud shares the first groundbreaking years of Mayhem’s existence including their first photo-sessions in full corpse regalia; recording sessions, and exclusive stills from live video footage of their earliest gigs. In Necrobutcher’s Death Archives he shares rarely seen photos of the band before death of singer Pelle “Dead” Ohlin and murder of guitarist Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth.Once Mayhem established their unique sound, The Norwegian Black Metal scene grew ferociously and globally finding common ground in violent imagery, horror iconography, fierce anti-Christian views, which ultimately led to over fifty church fires, among them the iconic Fantoft Stavkirke in Bergen. The violent nature of the music also led to the brutal murder of Øystein “Euronymous” Aarseth in 1993 by Varg “Count Grishnak” Vikernes internationally known as Burzum.Today, Norwegian Black Metal is one of the most distinct and controversial subcultures in the music world, its popularity spanning globally from China to Mexico. The book is not only a documentation of a band – it is also a story about Norway, and a unique Norwegian subculture where a deep fascination for authentic Nordic culture and nature is deeply immersed.
Death Archives: Mayhem 1984-94 by Jørn “Necrobutcher” Stubberud with Svein Strømmen & Christian Belgaux
Published by Ecstatic Peace Library with afterword by Thurston MooreSoftcover, 2018256pp195 x 266 mm
The Death Archives: Mayhem 1984-94
In Vol. 2 of Blank Forms' Journal, Maryanne Amacher remains a focal point, with three pieces related to our work with the pioneering sound artist’s archive. The late polymath avant-garde artist Tony Conrad is represented twice, through a selection of handwritten notes and a new transcription of a 1989 phone interview with Alan Licht.
Music from the World Tomorrow includes contributions by Marcus Boon, Catherine Christer Hennix, Patty Waters, Larry J Nai, Limpe Fuchs and Zoro Babel, Akio Suzuki, Amy Cimini, Scott Fisher, Olaf Stapledon, Andrew Lampert, Klaus Lang, Tashi Wada, Dafne Vicente-Sandoval, John Corbett, Annea Lockwood, Crys Cole, Matana Roberts, and Kan Mikami (translated by David Hopkins). Edited by Lawrence Kumpf and Joe Bucciero.
Blank Forms Journal 2: Music From The World Tomorrow Book
In the 1970s David Toop became preoccupied with the possibility that music was no longer bounded by formalities of audience: the clapping, the booing, the short attention span, the demand for instant gratification. Considering sound and listening as foundational practices in themselves leads music into a thrilling new territory: stretched time, wilderness, video monitors, singing sculptures, weather, meditations, vibration and the interior resonance of objects, interspecies communications, instructional texts, silent actions, and performance art.
Toop sought to document the originality and unfamiliarity of this work from his perspective as a practitioner and writer. The challenge was to do so without being drawn back into the domain of music while still acknowledging the vitality and hybridity of twentieth-century musics as they moved toward art galleries, museums, and site-specificity. Toop focused on practitioners, whose stories are as compelling as the theoretical and abstract implications of their works.
Inflamed Invisible collects more than four decades of David Toop's essays, reviews, interviews, and experimental texts, drawing us into the company of artists and their concerns, not forgetting the quieter, unsung voices. The volume is an offering, an exploration of strata of sound that are the crossing points of sensory, intellectual, and philosophical preoccupations, layers through which objects, thoughts and air itself come alive as the inflamed invisible.
Spotify and QR Codes
This is a book about music, and we wanted to bring the print text to sonic life. We have compiled a series of web links to take you to recordings of the music, musicians, and artists David Toop describes, as well as to artists’ websites. We have placed codes in the margins, so you can listen to the music written about as you read. These codes can be scanned by a smartphone camera. On some phones, the built-in camera app will automatically recognise a code. On other phones, you would need to download a QR code reader app.
We have endeavored to find online as much of the music as possible, whether the pieces have been commercially released or not. Many of the links take you to the Discogs database. There, there are links to videos and audio on YouTube. Some links take you to the artist’s gallery website or personal site.
For the music that is commercially available, we have compiled an Inflamed Invisible playlist on the Spotify music streaming service. The playlist is accessible.
Individual tracks from this playlist are seen as Spotify codes in the margins. To scan these, please download and use the Spotify app on your phone. Select the magnifying glass icon to search, then select the camera icon and scan the code.
Atau Tanaka, Sonics Series Editor
David Toop – Inflamed Invisible
Pianist and composer Fred Van Hove (°1937) was involved in the Big Bang of European free improvisation (Machine Gun by the Peter Brötzmann Octet), but also became one of Europe’s finest and most underestimated improvisers. Mostly known for his 70’s trio with Brötzmann and Han Bennink, Van Hove’s trajectory over the past 4 decades has been one of the brilliant, but unsung stories of the music.
The new Dropa Disc release Fred Van Hove At 80 is an effort to rectify this imbalance and give some credit where it’s due. Combining three sublime concerts that were recorded in 2017 with a 80-page hardcover book containing a rich, extended essay by Hugo de Craen and beautiful photos from the year in which the celebrations took place, Fred Van Hove At 80 is a much-needed document that no serious lover of the music can afford to miss.
Fred Van Hove at 80
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback, 168 pp, 2016
"Toshiharu Osato’s literary memoir of the origins of Tokyo's most uncompromising punk band Gaseneta, who invented postpunk artcore just as the rest of the world was coming to terms with punk. It certainly sets a record for literary references in a book about artcore music! Funny, thoughtful and ultimately moving account. Awarded Best Book of the Year for 2017 by terminal-boredom.com!" - Publisher Public Bath
Biba Kopf writing in The Wire 400 described Gaseneta Wasteland as a "heartbreakingly funny, insightful and moving memoir of Gaseneta, a short-lived Japanese art punk group who revved up and roared and crackled and coughed and collapsed down the deep dark hole of their own devising in lates 1970s Tokyo... Osato's memoir makes you feel the burn like no other."
Gaseneta Wasteland by Toshiharu Osato
“Far to the North. past the towns, beyond the forests, and more distant than most have dared to go, there lies a small group of islands that against all the odds survive amongst the rocks and brine at the very edge of everything.”
The Nuckelavee is a fresh re-telling of an old Orcadian folk story, written and illustrated by Oliver Barrett in this new edition from Tartaruga Press. Set across one stormy island night, The Nuckelavee follows Tammas Kelpy as he braves the wild elements and fearsome terrain, whilst something terrifying and ancient awaits him in the darkness... .Featuring stunning hand-drawn ink and pencil illustrations throughout and a hand-screenprinted dust jacket, The Nuckelavee is available in an edition of 250 numbered copies. .Oliver Barrett is a musician and illustrator whose work has featured on various prints, posters and records (both his own as Petrels as well as numerous others). This is his first book.
Oliver Barrett – The Nuckelavee
Compost and Height is pleased to announce the publication of Patrick Farmer’s new book, Yew Grotesque.
Farmer has been working on this book for the last year as part of a joint commission from Sound and Music and Forestry Commission England. It was developed during a series of week-long residential trips to Grizedale Forest, Cumbria, where Farmer resided in a log cabin and spent time walking the forested area between Coniston Water and Lake Windermere. This direct relationship between the forest and the book is veiled, though the underlying presence is integral to its makeup.
Yew Grotesque completes a series of works, comprising Farmer’s previous books try i bark and wild horses think of nothing else the sea. Together the three books offer both a direct and indirect textual engagement with listening. The relationship between these publications is typified by the words of Jack Spicer, a poet who felt that his own works “echo and re-echo against each other”, “create resonances” and can’t “live alone anymore than we can”.
The undertow of Farmer’s preceding books, found in the knots and temporary dichotomies of the external and internal, now find their opposite in the publication of Yew Grotesque. The new book’s underlying personality and its observation of the many divergent angles and qualities of listening was prevalent from its conception, but its role in sealing and joining the three books together was only made apparent towards its end. It is a perverse book of praise that attempts to lay itself out flat by concerning itself with the tools that can make the object, rather than the object itself.
Yew Grotesque opens on the morning of a symposium, observing the protagonist as he moves through a series of exercises in a hotel room, whilst intently listening to his inner speech rehearse a speculative conversation between two dead artists.
Patrick Farmer – Yew Grotesque (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