Various Artists

From the Kitchen Archives: New Music, New York 1979

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A time capsule of SoHo's avant-garde scene selected from recordings made during a nine-day festival in June 1979 at The Kitchen, this double-disc fairly vividly evokes the spirit of a diverse creative community and the bright promise of a few important composers at early stages of their careers. However, a sense of nostalgia is pervasive here; changes in musical directions and tastes since the 1980s make this album seem like a document of the avant-garde's scattered ending rather than an account of a vital and influential new phase. Despite the evident pride taken by the producers in restoring and digitally remastering the tapes, their claims for the long-term significance of this music seem inflated, and many outside a small group of die-hard fans will find this collection parochial and pretentious. The 17 pieces may be divided into four groups: minimalist pattern pieces by Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Steve Reich; extended vocal experiments by Meredith Monk, Pauline Oliveros, Tom Johnson, Charlie Morrow, and Charlemagne Palestine; instrumental explorations by Jon Gibson, Garrett List, Gordon Mumma, George Lewis, Barbara Benary, Joel Chadabe, and Tony Conrad; and works for electronically manipulated instruments by Phill Niblock and David Behrman. The sound of these recordings is often hot, so a low-to-middle volume setting is advised.

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