back in stock as of
august 22nd, 2008
first in stock on
february 14th, 2008
|matchless (uk) #mrcd61 cd|
amm / mev “apogee” double compact disc set
- amm & mev - apogee part 1 (31:21)
- amm & mev - apogee part 2 (19:48)
- amm & mev - apogee part 3 (19:38)
- amm - 01.05.04 (39:27)
- mev - 01.05.04 (36:40)
|matchless press release...|
|amm & mev: apogee (2005)|
musica elettronica viva & amm
cd1 was recorded at gateway studios, kingston-upon-thames, surrey on 30 april 2004.
cd2 was recorded at 'freedom of the city' festival, conway hall, london on 1 may 2004.
i am. we are.
that is enough. now we have to begin.
and if that is how ernst bloch begins the spirit of utopia, a book containing, suggestively, a lengthy essay on "the philosophy of music", it can only be almost as worrying to encounter, in an essay by adorno on the same topic, the dispiriting suggestion that "music gazes at its listener with empty eyes".
fortunately the music of amm or mev is by no means empty; though it might seem an empty gesture to be yoking the two groups together. they seem at first glance to share little beyond longevity, each having a history extending for four decades; that, and the fact that they were once on opposite sides of a long-vanished vinyl lp. both their histories and the consequent musics are very different. amm’s membership has been by and large stable; it has had the same line-up as is on these cds for a quarter of a century. it has been rare for more than a year or two to pass without some aural documentation of what they’re up to (albeit in some cases issued decidedly retrospectively). musica elettronica viva, to give them their full name, have not merely had many personnel “given their solicitation of audience participation, their full playing complement would be unlistable thousands” but there have been different versions of mev operating in different countries, even continents, producing albums with markedly different, even incompatible, aesthetics. their music, as far as one can gauge it from the scant half-dozen available recordings - and decades have passed with no licit releases is more expansive (as one would expect, given their broader performance practice) and with, particularly recently, a markedly hospitable approach to musics from other places and times; amm, in contrast, might be thought, particularly in the last 25 years or so, to be more introspective, with the music immediate, self-generated, even autotelic. (the use keith rowe makes of the radio during performances neatly skewers this over-easy generalisation.) it is a delight, then, that what might have been over-enthusiastic festival programming has produced music of substance and excellence; "live electronic music, improvised", which both has a kinship with their shared album of that title, now nearly forty years old, and is also unlike anything else either group has recorded previously. this is both the music that existed, unheard, between the opposed sides of that old mainstream album, and a music that is utterly without precedent.
one reason for the "newness" of both amm and mev in the mid-60s was the speed of their take-up of new technologies - if that term isn’t too hi-falutin, given the levels of bricolage involved. amm were pioneers of the use of the radio as an instrument (for which the now-deceased composer-improviser, cornelius cardew, an early member of the group, found a precedent in cage’s 1951 imaginary landscape no. 4.) more important for both groups, however, was the example of the pianist-turned-live-electronics pioneer, david tudor. his conviction that the circuit diagrams and wiring layouts constituted scores was something of a blow to a compositional aesthetic, particularly given his renown as a pianist-interpreter. frederic rzewski apparently spent some time in buffalo, ny, during which he heard tudor perform, even stayed with him. in spring 1966 rzewski came back to rome (where mev was founded and based) with some cheap contact mikes and mixers and some discarded circuitry formerly the property of the inventor/performer/composer david behrman; these were hooked up with bed-springs, glass plates, rubber bands, tin cans, toy pianos, sex vibrators, assorted metal junk, et the obligatory cetera. cardew tells us that around 1968 amm were exploring the range of small sounds made available by contact microphones on all kinds of material - glass, metal, wood, etc. - and a variety of gadgets from drumsticks to battery-operated cocktail mixers. in a time when live electronic improvisation is so common that it not only has sub-genres but even an "original instruments" tendency, it is worth recollecting just how original this was for mev in particular. their undersung founder member allan bryant heavily rewired a cheap electric organ, adding switchable resistors and capacitors to the outside of the instrument. as well as working with the first "r.a. moog music synthesizer" in europe, richard teitelbaum pioneered techniques of manipulating its signals using heart-beat, brain-waves and variations in skin resistance. all of which echoes adorno’s contention that the correct way to think of a composer"s musical material - even an instant composer"s - is as the technical productive forces of an age, concretised. this is material not as inert lump, but stuff that has not yet become something; or is still in the process of doing so. although a period’s technology need not drive its music, it cannot but shape it, often in ways which are far from evident. bloch observed that the ancient greeks would not have understood calculus, as, lacking microscopy, they could not have conceived of the subdividability of basic units and elements. (an observation with more relevance to the music on these cds than might at first be apparent.)