notes for Tzadik CD

A president speaks on the Eve of Atom: war is enema, war is sand, war is golf. A child screams from memory, War is Krieg; Melissa bowls a spare, a car skids and crashes into a wall of fifties TV sets: Ed sullivan emerges and introduces the driver but it's the wrong show. Nam June Paik takes a bow anyway. On the "Original Amateur Hour" bison mate, elks bugle, loons loon and mammoth dream, but that was radio and some girl from Idaho played the spoons. The guy in the car was Performance Art and should have been on that show except that student mobs from the Euphrates River College burst in and interrupted the transmission in angry protest. Around the country people shut off their sets and went back to what they were doing: Kirk Douglas pees into an oil well; Spike Jones orchestrates a chorus of land mines and seltzer bottles; Thelonius Monk discovers "frozen" time between the piano keys and challenges Einstein to a duel; Marylin and Joe get down in center field; Ma Rainey invents spontaneous combustion. Bugs Bunny falls off Carl Stallings xylophone right through the roof of the "Methodists for Moses" pastrami factory - the sidemen reported it to the Union. Saddam removes his boots and enters a smart mosque; outside dates were falling off the smart palms; In Oakland surviving Black Panthers aimiably interview the streets and in Hots Springs South Dakota the local avantguard watch Annie Sprinkle moan her way from bondage to Buddha. Technically my fingers play only what's under them and what you hear is what they did and this was done in one sitting using a MIDI keyboard and one sampler. A sampler is many things, above all a MIDI safe-house, but also an esteemed Japanese tradition of storing found objects as electronically charged particles. It could also be a data stream in a Fuller Brushman's Kit or a box of fine chocolates. My Akai sampler houses a traveling circus neatly arranged in groups of four per octave with four sounds per key. This gives some 80 sounds in all including wolves, geese, trumpet birds, lions, chimpanzees, elephants, kids, inuits, horses, elk, bison, accidents, explosions, unicorns and griffins. The voice of the president commands this ragtag ensemble into convulsive action which leads to strategies of silence, insubordination and sex. Animal Behaviour and Animal Crackers are interchangeable on today's markets - both are improvised and Marxist; both describe comportment in the liquid and dry forms and neither abhor vacuums, vowels or violence. The samples used here are all part of an unauthorized train robbery in a western town in the Middle East - archivially patented but duty free to passengers in transit.

-- Alvin Curran, l993

Keyboard and Sampler, Alvin Curran
Recording, remix, editing and computer panning programs by Tim Walters, Mills College, Oakland, November l993
Special Thanks to Annie Sprinkle and Cora for "Moans and Groans."

(reprinted in "Two Texts," Vanitas 1:  THE STATE (Vincent Katz, ed.), 2005, p. 119-120. )

home | upcoming | biography | writings | works | discography | installations | solo performance | scores | listen | search