We need your help – please
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
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
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
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
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
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
“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
Published by Public Bath Press, paperback + CD, 244 pp, 2019
"The acclaimed collection by Seiichi Yamamoto with all new art, photography and a new CD of remixed and new music by Omoide Hatoba and Suido Megane Satsujin Jiken." - Publisher Public Bath Press
"Of course, Seiichi Yamomoto is famous as the visionary guitarist of The Boredoms, Omoide Hatoba, Rashinban, Live Under The Sky, Most, Para, Novo Tono and many, many, more projects. His solo work is extensive. He is also proprietor of live house Namba Bears, home of the most interesting shows in Osaka. In the mid-1990s, when Boredoms mania was at its peak, Yamamoto-san was asked by Guitar Magazine to write a regular column. This book represents the best of that writing, with added poetry, fiction and art.
"Less well known, at least overseas, is that he is also a fine artist and photographer, having been featured in several solo shows at galleries.
"Yamamoto-san has an enigmatic, opaque way of speaking/writing that can feel simultaneously very warm and somehow off-putting. He is basically a very shy person who yet seems to spend most of his time on a stage in the spotlight.
"Ginga is the Japanese word for Milky Way, but here it is written in katakana and not its customary kanji (meaning silver river) so who knows if it means anything. He asked me if Gitabarrio, the repeating title of his column, meant anything to me. I said that I could see Gita, the song of the blessed one, and with a stretch, guitar, coming from his own barrio??? He merely smiled. Now it's your turn."- Translator Kato David Hopkins
Ginga by Seiichi Yamamoto
"In May 1977 Derek Bailey gave me a press ticket for Company Week - a series of concerts of improvised music in London. I made some notes at the time, but there seemed to be nowhere suitable to publish the extended commentary I eventually produced. So I wrote it into a dummy book and it to Derek. Most of it is reproduced here." Peter Riley 1994
Original copies of this rare and invaluable document.
Peter Riley - Company Week
Published by New DocumentsEdited by Will Holder, Alex Waterman.
American composer Robert Ashley (born 1930) has taken contemporary opera beyond the opera theater and into the television screen. Ashley’s operas draw an elegant cosmology of American consciousness out of storytelling, short phrases, ranting, chanting, profanity and the linguistic textures that make American speech musical. Working with the same four speakers/singers (Joan La Barbara, Sam Ashley, Tom Buckner and Jacqueline Humbert) for 30 years, Ashley has developed a collective, operatic form of storytelling whose production is almost entirely oral. Little exists on the page by way of a fully notated score, leaving the singers to fill in musical nuance and inflection through a process of “character development” that exists more off the page than on. Yes, But Is It Edible? is the culmination of activity and research around Ashley’s notational style that the editors have developed through a series of “rehearsals” and public readings ongoing since 2009.
Robert Ashley - Yes, But Is It Edible? Book
Composer, author and educator Pauline Oliveros has dedicated her life to sound and to listening. One of electronic music’s most important early figures, she was an original member of the pioneering San Francisco Tape Music Center and its first director. A founder of the Deep Listening Institute, she now conveys the message that sound and its effects are powerful equalizers. Her works are meditations on the ocean of sound that listeners can find themselves in, embracing the rapture of audible sensation. A recipient of many awards and a participant in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, her engagement with sound continues to influence generations.
Pauline Oliveros' Anthology of Text Scores contains over one hundred pieces that span four decades of creative work. Collected in one comprehensive volume, these individual and group meditations, as well as solo and ensemble performance pieces are invaluable resources for performing musicians, music students, and anyone interested in the life work of one the most unique voices in modern music. Featuring an introduction by Brian Pertl.
Pauline Oliveros – Anthology of Text Scores
Designed by Remake Design (who also created the now iconic Donald Judd: Writings book), this issue features words by or about Jeremy Toussaint-Baptiste, Ornette Coleman, Nicole Kaack, Bradford Bailey, G. Lucas Crane, Jennie Gottschalk, Ambrose Akinmusire, Mats Gustafsson, Peter Margasak, Terry Riley, Kim Brandt, John Cage, Josh Sinton, Edgard Varése, Marc Hannaford, John Zorn, Matthew Mehlan, Million Tongues Festival, Alex Mincek, Lester St. Louis, Steve Lehman...
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 #21 – The Change Issue