Angus MacLise

The Cloud Doctrine

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The lesser-known member of the Dream Syndicate (which also included Tony Conrad and John Cale), Angus MacLise remains an enigmatic figure -- the scarceness of his discography doesn't help. This double album exquisitely completes the picture painted in part by the two volumes of archive material released by Ira Cohen on the Siltbreeze label in 1999 and 2000. The Cloud Doctrine is a selection of almost 160 minutes of music taken from the tapes MacLise gave to Don Snyder in the '70s. Compiled by Gerard Malanga and Sub Rosa owner Guy Marc Hinant, the music spans the years 1963 through 1976 and covers a large spectrum of styles. The collection aims intentionally at bringing forth two previously overlooked aspects of the artist's work: his electronic music and his poetry reading. The former provides the most satisfying and puzzling moments, the 28-minute "Electronic Mix for Expanded Cinema" standing out as a gripping piece, despite its lo-fi quality. In fact, all the material here has shaky sound. After all, these are home recordings, a personal collection of reels of tapes that spent a lot of time in cardboard boxes. Other electronic pieces of interest include the short sound collage "Shortwave Radio" and the "Tunnel Music" suite. Two tracks capture MacLise reading his poetry in public -- the stirring "Description of a Mandala" was recorded in September 1976 at the Millennium Film Workshop in New York. The other pieces feature MacLise playing percussion in small groups that often include Conrad and Cale. Some of these sound totally improvised ("Thunder Cut," built over a loop of reed organ and thunder; "The First Subtle Cabinet") and, given their duration (both half an hour) and the muddy recordings, test the listener's determination. That doesn't apply to the "Trance" sequence, a stunning suite of experimental noise rock.

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