JLIAT

Of Musicology, Vols. 1-2

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There are at least two levels to every story. Level one: This 12" LP features cover versions of two important progressive rock epics. Pink Floyd's "Atom Heart Mother" and Emerson, Lake & Palmer's "Tarkus" are interpreted solo on a keyboard (using a single, spacy synth sound). JLIAT's arrangement follows the original versions quite to the letter (minus a few extended solos). He has impressive chops, but that's all. Level two: This is JLIAT, a conceptual artist and philosopher, someone who never makes music for the sake of music. The LP is packaged in a blank white sleeve. It wears its liner notes on the circumference of the label, and they are worth quoting: "If anything is destroyed in a deconstructive reading, it is not the text, but the claim to unequivocal domination of one mode of signifying over another. A deconstructive reading is a reading which analyzes the specificity of a text's critical difference from itself." Now, take the title Of Musicology into account. This album addresses the issue of music preservation, purism. The artist has renounced his right for change, working his way through the pieces from a note-by-note transcript, but using an instrumentation so limited and -- let's say it -- cheesy that it strips most of the power these songs might have had on the young James Whitehead (yes, the man behind the JLIAT moniker). Revisiting his past, the artist offers an artifact many listeners will also recognize as a "personal genetic marker" (JLIAT's expression, from his website). Yet the music is deprived of any personal marking, extending fraternity through generality, a lowest common denominator, a clone. Prog rock covers? No, food for thought. Released in a limited edition of 100 copies and made available in May 2002 only from the artist.