Tag Archives: Pauline Oliveros

The Best Contemporary Classical Albums of 2018

2018-best-of-classical-1244The taxonomy of contemporary classical music—new music, contemporary music, whatever you want to call it—is a thorny issue. That ambiguity makes rating the year’s best offerings difficult, if not impossible, but embracing the big picture of musical diversity these 10 albums, listed alphabetically, have delivered all year long—they provided excitement, asked questions, and delivered disparate sorts of beauty. These are the best contemporary classical albums of 2018. 

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The San Francisco Tape Music Center Was an Early Home to the Avant-Garde

San Francisco Tape Center

Bill Maginnis, Tony Martin, Ramon Sender, Mort Subotnick, Pauline Oliveros. Photo courtesy of the Center for Contemporary Music Archive.

The San Francisco Tape Music Center was created under the premise of utilizing magnetic tape and electronics as compositional tools, but its legacy has touched nearly all aspects of the avant-garde. The Center’s foundations were laid by a handful of progressive West Coast composers and artists who were interested in electronic music, the tape medium, and the idea of pushing art forward.

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Lifetime Achievement: Joe McPhee’s Vast and Brilliant Improvisational Discography

Joe McPhee

In our Lifetime Achievement series, Bandcamp Daily takes a deep dive into the work of artists with a staggering number of releases to their name.

Joe McPhee has been playing music for more than six decades, but he still has the enthusiasm of someone just getting started. “I like the concept of discovery,” he says over the phone from his home in Poughkeepsie, NY. “I’m a romantic. I love music and I love the stories it can tell that quite often don’t get heard.” Continue reading

How Bang On A Can Rejuvenated New York’s Improvisational Spirit

Bang On A Can

New York in the 1970s was a crazed, creative zone. Composer-improvisers like George E. Lewis shared venues with writers of fully-notated classical works, like Steve Reich, and post-punk experimenters like Rhys Chatham. But by the late ‘80s, the underground had atomized; the all-welcoming, genre-agnostic community had splintered into a collection of discrete camps. Classical minimalists, turntablists, and post-punk pioneers were still putting in work, but they rarely occupied the same stages. When conservatory grads Julia Wolfe, Michael Gordon, and David Lang first arrived in that late ‘80s New York scene, they found the lack of cohesion crushing in its sadness. They wanted to bring that not-so-old New York collaborative spirit back.

Over the 30 years that followed, their collective—dubbed Bang On A Can—would help rejuvenate that communal vibe. Over time, other composer-based collectives sprang up around them, emulating their pan-stylistic values. Artists on their own label, Cantaloupe, won Pulitzer prizes for music. They would collaborate with a wide variety of experimentalists, including Meredith Monk and Thurston Moore—while also helping to realize ambitious works that had never been performed previously (like composer Anthony Braxton’s piece for 100 tubas).

This summer, the collective will celebrate their 30th anniversary with an eight-hour marathon at the Brooklyn Museum. The Bang On A Can founders have also begun to make their deep archive of live recordings available, exclusively on Bandcamp, for those who join the Cantaloupe label’s subscription program. The influence of the Bang On A Can marathons can be seen in other underground gathering grounds, like Knoxville’s Big Ears Festival. Thanks to the new archive, you can visit some of their earliest concerts.

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The Rare Recordings of Pauline Oliveros, Jerome Rothenberg and More

Charlie Morrow

New Wilderness Audiographics, a US-based label founded by 75-year-old composer/poet Charlie Morrow, hasn’t released music for over three decades, but the label has just unloaded digital versions of 40 rare, mostly unknown cassettes. Originally recorded and released in the 1970s and early ’80s, the astonishing collection features music by such luminaries as Pauline Oliveros, Phil Corner, and Jerome Rothenberg. These works—many of which were recorded in the same high-quality, on-site studio—cover broad stylistic ground, including everything from conceptual improvisations and process-based Indonesian gamelan performances to wild vocal experiments and even songs composed purely from resonating metal objects. But while Morrow dug into the past in order to digitize these cassettes for the future, his interests have always been contemporary. The label’s name, New Wilderness, is meant to signify a source of “perpetual renewal and new ideas,” and Morrow sees this digital release as a extension of his latest interests. His most recent work was a 24-hour multi-stream, multi-time-zone solstice celebration called Solstice 2016 , which featured poetry, music, and natural sound performed in planetariums and sky theaters around the world. And when Morrow‘s not organizing large-scale events like this one, he’s exploring immersive sound environments through his eight-speaker “True3D” system, and through 360 virtual reality experiences designed for the Oculus VR.

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