This is it: the ultimate collection of John Oswald's Plunderphonics. All the missing pieces, all the essentials, and all the tracks that executives of the record industry tried to erase are included on this two-CD box set. Oswald has been working on his techniques and esthetics of sound collaging since 1969, but was mostly active in this field during the late '80s/early '90s. He pushed the notion of sound collage to an artistic level barely imagined before him, while raising a number of issues on plagiarism and the notion of copyright. Here, all the tracks listeners have heard about but were never able to find have been gathered, along with excerpts from works that remain available elsewhere. Disc one focuses on songs (i.e., tracks in which lyrics [or at least syllables and phonemes] play a part): from the cannibalized Carly Simon/Faster Pussycat "Vane" to the androgynous voice of Dolly Parton ("Pretender," where she sings a duet with a slower version of herself) and the infamous "Dab," a reworking of Michael Jackson's "Bad." Disc two is comprised of tunes, where the sonic material comes from classical, jazz, and more. Highlights include the revised "Sunrise" from Richard Strauss' "Also Spracht Zarathustra" (titled "Z24"), the three "Birth" pieces, and the exhilarating "Mach," where the Kronos Quartet battles with a heavy metal band. The cut-up hörspiel "Case of Death" acts like a bridge between the two discs. Record collectors who managed to put a hand on the shortly available original recordings can breathe -- most of the tracks show slight differences, such as remixing, editing, and sequencing. All pieces segue, sometimes with tricky interludes hidden in the index of the CD track. The 48-page book accompanying the set contains historical and technical comments from the composer for each of the 62 pieces. Ending in 1996, like Greyfolded: 1969-1996, this collection is definitive and closes a very important cycle in Oswald's musical activities. Plunderphonics 69/96 is must-have for any serious avant-garde fan.
Plunderphonics 69/96 Review
by François Couture