Gen Ken Montgomery


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The discography of sound artist Gen Ken Montgomery runs a mile long, but it mostly consists of private releases, very limited editions, and compilation tracks. It was time a label found the guts to release a retrospective of his work and XI, the outlet of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation, catered in November 2002 with a double-CD set, Pondfloorsample, that will remain in print. The starting point was probably the live performance of "Droneskipclickloop" that took place at the E.I.F. in March 1998 and lasted 52 minutes. It occupies most of disc two and synthesizes Montgomery's artistic interests: domestic sounds (radiators, refrigerators, film projectors), randomness (in a computer track), and creative spatialization, since the original was a multi-speaker affair and involved four CDs of pre-recorded material played back simultaneously -- drone, skip, click and loop. The whole project is exuberantly rich and captivating, despite its length. This disc is rounded up with two more live pieces, "The Aquarium Fishtank Symphony" (1999, self-describing) and "Knäckerbröt Action" (2000) in which crispbread is sent through a laminator. Disc one offers a retrospective of studio works in chronological order, starting with 1982's short "Static/Hiss," one of Montgomery's first pieces. "Father Demo Swears," a half-hour piece from 1989, is the most complex thing on this disc, as it involves four cassettes playing simultaneously, a microphone hanging outside the window, voice, violin, and David Myers' home-made feedback devices. All the other tracks are of short duration (between one and six minutes) and focus on Montgomery's fascination with the sounds that make up our everyday acoustical environment -- titles like "Radiator I," "Bath Drain," "Bird Eating," or "Fusebox" say it all. These snapshots reveal the surprising richness of our surroundings and teach us to listen more closely...and maybe shut up once in a while.

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