Bob Ostertag

Sooner or Later (Tarde O Temprano)

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Known for his technique of live performance sampling before there were samplers (by recording performance, cutting the tape, and making a loop, then playing it back on a tape recorder with the tape guards held up by balloons), Ostertag has created a stark and moving work based on the recorded voice of a young Salvadoran boy burying his father who had been killed by El Salvador's National Guard. "There is the sound of the boy's voice, a fly buzzing nearby, and the shovel digging the grave. In part two, there are additional sounds from a 20-second sample of the guitar playing of Fred Frith." Ostertag spent the last ten years working in or around El Salvador. "I saw a lot of death... In that culture, which is both Catholic and highly politicized, death gets surrounded with all kinds of trappings that are intended to make it heroic and purposeful... God's will, or else as irrevalent, since the victims 'live on in the struggle.' It's all glorious and heroic... but some 70,000 people have died there, most because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time... they didn't want to... there was no plan... there was no glory... even for the heroes there is a starker, more immediate side to their death... sooner or later... no angels sang and no one was better... if there is a beauty, we must find it in what is really there... the boy, the shovel, the fly... if we look closely, despite the unbearable sadness, we will discover it."

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 29:10
2 14:11
blue highlight denotes track pick