Books and Magazines

A rare document of the 1960s Black Arts Movement featuring Albert Ayler, Amiri Baraka, Milford Graves, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor, and many more, The Cricket fostered critical and political dialogue for Black musicians and writers. Edited by poets and writers Amiri Baraka, A.B. Spellman, and Larry Neal between 1968 and 1969 and published by Baraka’s New Jersey–based Jihad productions shortly after the time of the Newark Riots, this experimental music magazine ran poetry, position papers, and gossip alongside concert and record reviews and essays on music and politics. Over four mimeographed issues, The Cricket laid out an anticommercial ideology and took aim at the conservative jazz press, providing a space for critics, poets, and journalists (including Stanley Crouch, Haki Madhubuti, Ishmael Reed, Sonia Sanchez and Keorapetse Kgositsile) and a range of musicians, from Mtume to Black Unity Trio, to devise new styles of music writing. The publication emerged from the heart of a political movement—“a proto-ideology, akin to but younger than the Garveyite movement and the separatism of Elijah Mohammed,” as Spellman writes in the book’s preface—and aimed to reunite advanced art with its community, “to provide Black Music with a powerful historical and critical tool” and to enable avant-garde Black musicians and writers “to finally make a way for themselves.” This publication gathers all issues of the magazine with an introduction by poet and scholar David Grundy, who argues that The Cricket “attempted something that was in many ways entirely new: creating a form of music writing which united politics, poetry, and aesthetics as part of a broader movement for change; resisting the entire apparatus through which music is produced, received, appreciated, distributed, and written about in the Western world; going well beyond the tried-and-tested journalistic route of description, evaluation, and narration.” --- David Grundy is the author of A Black Arts Poetry Machine: Amiri Baraka and the Umbra Poets (Bloomsbury Academic, 2019) and coeditor, with Lauri Scheyer, of Selected Poems of Calvin C. Hernton  (Wesleyan University Press, forthcoming). He is currently a British Academy Fellow at the University of Warwick, United Kingdom, where he is working on two manuscripts, Survival Music: Free Jazz Then and Now and Never by Itself Alone: Queer Poetry in Boston and San Francisco, 1943–Present  (Oxford University Press, forthcoming), and a further edited collection on Umbra.  A.B. Spellman is a poet, music critic, and former director of the Arts in Education Study Project for the National Endowment of the Arts.

THE CRICKET: BLACK MUSIC IN EVOLUTION, 1968–69

Blank Forms' journal brings together a combination of never-before published, lost, and new materials that supplement Blank Forms' live programs. It is envisioned as a platform for critical reflection and extended dialogue between scholars, artists, and other figures working within the world of experimental music and art. Jerry Hunt (1943–1993) has been described as a shamanic figure with the look of a Central Texas meat inspector. One of the most compelling composers in the world of late twentieth-century new music, he made work that combined video synthesis, installation art, and early computers with rough-hewn sculptures, scores drawn from celestial alphabets, and homemade electronics activated by his signature wands and impassioned gestures. Hunt lived his entire life in Texas, eventually settling in a house (“an interactive environment”) he built with his partner, Stephen Housewright, in a rural area outside Canton, but his pataphysical, abrasive, and humorous performances took him across North America and Europe, where he amassed a small but dedicated following. This volume, accompanying an exhibition of the same title, represents the first ever book-length collection devoted to the underknown composer’s work, and includes a biographical essay by Tyler Maxin and Lawrence Kumpf, interviews with and essays by Hunt, and detailed analyses of his visual art, and reflections from his friends and collaborators. Contributors include art historian Kris Paulsen, composers Guy De Bièvre, George Lewis, David Rosenboom, Gordon Monahan, and artist Karen Finley.

BLANK FORMS 08: TRANSMISSIONS FROM THE PLEROMA

What are you supposed to do with a stray dog? From the smallest acts of kindness to the grandest acts of love, every single variation on an empathetic response to this question ends up becoming the same: you find them a space in which they can live. Stray Dog is one of these spaces, within which a disparate cast of artists, designers, poets and musicians gather around a shared tension between displacement and connection, otherworldliness and physicality. To dream of life is to dwell in the liminal beauty of earthly transience, to float free from waking reality while keeping an eye on the world below. A dream of life might amplify that which is other, shine gauzy light on the strange and surreal while gesturing towards some ecstatic truth, trapped under the weight of the eye’s closed lid. Here, lysergic collage unfolds onto a colossal cloud bank, rendered even more impossibly enormous by an errant shred of tobacco, caught precariously in the instant of a scan. Distorted figures herald alien landscapes scraped from Google Earth, “lifewithallitsbeauty.” Quotidian scenes are brushed with a milky patina, bio-mechanical entities, smudged in alchemical smoke, haunt dreamlike scenes of weird familiarity, nostalgia bleeding into deja vu. Skeletal details are scratched in ink spindle, a bone, a thread and an arrow all woven together in delicate lines. Lynchian visions run into narcotic prophesies, Rorschach angels, printed thick, spark up against pale wraiths captured in alabaster shades. Leather, latex and rough-hewn rope are stretched taut, while someone, somewhere, is tending to an ancient garden, another space in which a stray might live, even if only for a moment. We close with another dream, “How good it would be / If I lived in a world where meaning does not become meaning.” If nothing else, Stray Dog offers a space in which to explore whether such a world is possible, a space in which to search and to stray.’ (Henry Bruce-Jones)

Straydog 2

What are you supposed to do with a stray dog? From the smallest acts of kindness to the grandest acts of love, every single variation on an empathetic response to this question ends up becoming the same: you find them a space in which they can live. Stray Dog is one of these spaces, within which a disparate cast of artists, designers, poets and musicians gather around a shared tension between displacement and connection, otherworldliness and physicality. To dream of life is to dwell in the liminal beauty of earthly transience, to float free from waking reality while keeping an eye on the world below. A dream of life might amplify that which is other, shine gauzy light on the strange and surreal while gesturing towards some ecstatic truth, trapped under the weight of the eye’s closed lid. Here, lysergic collage unfolds onto a colossal cloud bank, rendered even more impossibly enormous by an errant shred of tobacco, caught precariously in the instant of a scan. Distorted figures herald alien landscapes scraped from Google Earth, “lifewithallitsbeauty.” Quotidian scenes are brushed with a milky patina, bio-mechanical entities, smudged in alchemical smoke, haunt dreamlike scenes of weird familiarity, nostalgia bleeding into deja vu. Skeletal details are scratched in ink spindle, a bone, a thread and an arrow all woven together in delicate lines. Lynchian visions run into narcotic prophesies, Rorschach angels, printed thick, spark up against pale wraiths captured in alabaster shades. Leather, latex and rough-hewn rope are stretched taut, while someone, somewhere, is tending to an ancient garden, another space in which a stray might live, even if only for a moment. We close with another dream, “How good it would be / If I lived in a world where meaning does not become meaning.” If nothing else, Stray Dog offers a space in which to explore whether such a world is possible, a space in which to search and to stray.’ (Henry Bruce-Jones)

Straydog 1

Although Theodor W. Adorno is best known for his association with the Frankfurt School of critical theory, he began his career as a composer and successful music critic. "Night Music" presents the first complete English translations of two collections of texts compiled by Adorno - "Moments musicaux", containing essays written between 1928 and 1962, and "Theory of New Music", a group of texts written between 1929 and 1955. In "Moments musicaux", Adorno echoes Schubert's eponymous cycle, with its emphasis on aphorism, and offers lyrical reflections on music of the past and his own time. The essays include extended aesthetic analyses that demonstrate Adorno's aim to apply high philosophical standards to the study of music. "Theory of New Music", as its title indicates, presents Adorno's thoughts and theories on the composition, reception, and analysis of the music that was being written around him. His extensive philosophical writing ultimately prevented him from pursuing the compositional career he had once envisaged, but his view of the modern music of the time is not simply that of a theorist, but clearly also that of a composer. Though his advocacy of the Second Viennese School, comprising composer Arnold Schoenberg and his pupils, is well known, many of his writings in this field have remained obscure. Collected in their entirety for the first time in English, the insightful texts in "Night Music" show the breadth of Adorno's musical understanding and reveal an overlooked side to this significant thinker.

Theodor W Adorno – Night Music: Essays on Music 1928-1962 (The German List)

Equal parts biography, musicology, and cultural history, Dilla Time chronicles the life and legacy of J Dilla, a musical genius who transformed the sound of popular music for the twenty-first century. He wasn’t known to mainstream audiences, and when he died at age thirty-two, he had never had a pop hit. Yet since his death, J Dilla has become a demigod, revered as one of the most important musical figures of the past hundred years. At the core of this adulation is innovation: as the producer behind some of the most influential rap and R&B acts of his day, Dilla created a new kind of musical time-feel, an accomplishment on a par with the revolutions wrought by Louis Armstrong and James Brown. Dilla and his drum machine reinvented the way musicians play. In Dilla Time, Dan Charnas chronicles the life of James DeWitt Yancey, from his gifted Detroit childhood to his rise as a sought-after hip-hop producer to the rare blood disease that caused his premature death. He follows the people who kept Dilla and his ideas alive. And he rewinds the histories of American rhythms: from the birth of Motown soul to funk, techno, and disco. Here, music is a story of what happens when human and machine times are synthesized into something new. This is the story of a complicated man and his machines; his family, friends, partners, and celebrity collaborators; and his undeniable legacy. Based on nearly two hundred original interviews, and filled with graphics that teach us to feel and "see" the rhythm of Dilla's beats, Dilla Time is a book as defining and unique as J Dilla's music itself.

Dan Charnas – Dilla Time: The Life and Afterlife of J Dilla, the Hip-Hop Producer Who Reinvented Rhythm

A talented pianist and composer in his own right, Sun Ra (1914 - 1993) founded and conducted one of jazz's last great big bands from the 1950s until he left planet Earth. Few only know that he also was a gifted thinker and poet. Sun Ra's poetry leaves everything behind what's called contemporary, and flings out pictures of infinity into the outer space. These poems are for tomorrow. This is the only edition of Sun Ra's complete poetry and prose in one volume. The Contributors James L. Wolf Earned a music degree from Carleton College, and studied ethnomusicology at the University of Washington, Seattle. Now works at the Library of Congress in the Music Division. Active musician in various bands in the DC area. Many contributions to Sun Ra scholarship. Hartmut Geerken Oriental studies, philosophy and comparative religion at the universities of Tübingen and Istanbul. Writer, filmmaker, musician, composer. Since the 1970s, close relationships to Sun Ra and his works, setting up the world's most comprehensive Waitawhile Sun Ra Archive Sigrid Hauff Studied oriental languages and arts, philosophy, and romance studies at the universities of Tübingen and Istanbul. Free lance writer on literary and philosophical subjects. Klaus Detlef Thiel Studied philosophy and history at Trier University, Ph.D. Philosophical author, focussing on theory and history of writing. Brent Hayes Edwards Teaches in the English Department at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ. Author and Co-Editor of works on jazz and literature.

Hartmut Geerken – Sun Ra: The Immeasurable Equation. The collected Poetry and Prose

Presenting an interdisciplinary selection of twenty-five essays first delivered at Breaking Convention 2015, the third conference on psychedelic consciousness, culture, and clinical research, held at the University of Greenwich, London. Breaking Convention is the largest symposium of its kind, featuring more than 120 academic presentations biennially. Widely regarded as one of the foremost global platforms for serious research into psychedelic pharmacology, the conference has been instrumental in altering popular attitudes towards policy reform, with research focusing on the potential benefits that psychedelic therapies might hold in the treatment of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and in harm reduction among habitual substance abusers. Psychedelic Pharmacology for the 21st Century spans the sciences and humanities, from philosophy and neuroscience through chemical models of action to clinical use. This latest volume includes cross-cultural approaches exploring the global drug economy, clinical MDMA trials, histories of psychedelic literature, the enigma of the pineal gland, acid mediumship and psychedelic landscaping. --- Contributors include: Sam Gandy, Allan Badiner, Friedericke Meckel Fischer, Tharcila Chaves, John Constable, Lorna Olivia O’Dowd, Rick Doblin, Amanda Fielding, Mike, Crowley, Robert Dickins, Luke Goaman-Dodson, Ido Hartogsohn, Scott J. Hill, Will Rowlandson, David E. Nichols, Jennifer Lyke and Julia Kuti, Michael Montagne, Jonathan Newman, Carl A.P. Ruck, Dale Pendell, Alan Piper, Graham St. John, Bruce Rimmel, Iker Puente, Tim Read   Eds. Ben Sessa David Luke, Cameron Adams, David King, Amiee Tollan, Nikki Wyrd --- Strange Attractor Press, 2017

Breaking Convention Vol III – Psychedelic Pharmacology for the 21st Century

A literary mix tape that explores the entwined boundaries between sound, material culture, landscape and esoteric belief. Trees rigged up to the wireless radio heavens. A fax machine used to decode the language of hurricanes. A broadcast ghost that hijacked a television station to terrorize a city. A failed computer factory in the desert with a slap-back echo resounding into ruin. In High Static, Dead Lines, media historian and artist Kristen Gallerneaux weaves a literary mix tape that explores the entwined boundaries between sound, material culture, landscape, and esoteric belief. Essays and fictocritical interludes are arranged to evoke a network of ley lines for the “sonic spectre” to travel through—a hypothetical presence that manifests itself as an invisible layer of noise alongside the conventional histories of technological artifacts. The objects and stories within span from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day, touching upon military, communications, and cultural history. A connective thread is the recurring presence of sound—audible, self-generative, and remembered—charting the contentious sonic histories of paranormal culture. --- Kristen Gallerneaux is a writer, folklorist, and artist. She has published on topics as diverse as mathematics in midcentury design, the visual history of telepathy research, the world’s first mouse pad, and car audio bass battles in Miami. She is also Curator of Communications and Information Technology at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where she continues to build upon one of the largest historic technology collections in North America. --- Strange Attractor Press, 2018

Kristen Gallerneaux – High Static, Dead Lines Sonic Spectres and the Object Hereafter

"The dominant, traditional, western notation is only one aspect among many forms of expression in the field. We are interested in unconventional notational formats and graphic scores, as these represent visions of sound shapes that are open to diverse, idiosyncratic ways of interpreting and working. Works in which improvisation, composition, interpretation, performance and sound art merge require relevant modes of representation.In this first edition of Graphème artists Tomomi Adachi, Lotte Anker, Tony Buck & Lloyd Swanton, Marina Cyrino, Tina Douglas, Mazen Kerbaj, Magda Mayas, Phill Niblock, Jon Rose, Ute Wassermann and Nate Wooley work with photography, drawing, graphics, mixed media and object scores, finding ways to notate and share personal techniques and sonic elements. We intend to offer a much needed alternative to most current modes of publishing in a practical, accessible and approachable way.In addition to the publication of Graphème, smallest functional unit plan to present concerts, symposia and a festival within which composers will be given the opportunity to reflect and discuss their work." --- smallest functional unit was founded in 2020 by Tony Buck, Mazen Kerbaj, Magda Mayas, Ute Wassermann and Racha Gharbieh with the aim of performing and publishing unconventional, hybrid notational formats and graphic scores by international composers. The publication will appear as Graphème, a series with a thematic focus

smallest functional unit – Graphème - a publication for experimental musical scores (issue 1)