Charlemagne Palestine


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First in the Golden Research Charlemagne Palestine archive series, the Italian label Algamarghen continues their project of uncovering the hidden chapters of the New York minimalism scene. Here, Palestine presents three compositions of arresting drone music -- a style entirely unique to him, and, at the same time, an addition to the continuum beginning with the music of La Monte Young and Tony Conrad. While Palestine is often cited as a greatly overlooked artist in this idiom, it could be said that his abrasive and aggressive style put him outside of the pack, in that Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and other minimalists created a music which was considerably accessible, while Tony Conrad, Phill Niblock, and Chalemagne Palestine alike sought out a more aggressive sound, which would speak strongly of the urban landscape and create a connection between this music and the critical visual art scene of the time. On the pieces "Holy 1" and "Holy 2," the composer creates dense drone soundbeds from a series of oscillators, a primitive tone generator that was integral in the development of electronic music, and constructed slow variations of the monochord that these devices would create. Adding white noise to the mix of each sound source, Palestine explored, in 1967, a violent and resonating noise music akin to later recording by groups from the industrial music scene -- Throbbing Gristle and Merzbow spring to mind. On Alloy, Palestine is joined by Conrad, saxophonist Robert Feldman, and Deborah Glaser Palestine in improvisation on his self-built aluminum chime instrument. The same oscillators from the previous pieces are present here, too, and blare out from the speakers creating a cloud of drone in which the four performers improvise a dark and threatening soundscape. As a restored recording, the fidelity on this release is somewhat compromised, but through the slightly muffled noise springs a music that is still vital today, fascinating as an insight into the extremely experimental period of 20th century American music. And while such documents keep appearing, the listener will continue to be surprised by the shape of history to come.

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