Joe Colley

Project for an LP, Or, One Method of (Nearly) Avoiding the Composer

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Since John Cage elevated chance operations to the rank of composing tools, composers everywhere have been turning to such devices to either integrate an element of indeterminacy to their pieces or avoid having to make tough decisions. From Joe Colley's notes to Project for an LP, one would be tempted to put him in the latter category, although his conceptual piece is actually too playful to put it on the count of laziness. Side one of the LP presents a 20-minute piece produced by plugging two mini-disc players into a digital audio tape recorder, one player in each stereo channel. The players contained a number of silent files, noise fragments and constant sound blocks of varying lengths, the contents of both players being rigorously identical. Both players were set on random play mode, creating a piece of fragmented drones, hisses and silences. This piece was then pressed on one side of an LP. Three test pressing copies were used for the sound installation giving this album its name. Each copy of the LP is set on a different turntable; each turntable has two small fans oscillating nearby and is hooked to two loudspeakers disseminated around the room. The air coming from the fans push the tone arms of the turntables back and forth, while the vibration of the fan motors is picked up by the tone arms and produces an ominous hum. Side two of the LP presents two recordings of the installation as it was presented in early August 2003 at the event Beyond Music VI in Venice, California. Styluses scratching the surface of vinyl populate these two tracks, sounds from side one appearing and disappearing as tone arms jump around. Track one was recorded by Eric La Casa while moving around in the exhibition room; track two is a stationary recording. Both tracks provide a dynamic listen, slightly harsh, constantly puzzling, and the whole concept is quite entertaining, beside raising issues about the necessity of the composer, once again.

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