David Mahler

The Voice of the Poet: Works On Tape 1972-1986

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This important CD contains six beautifully innovative compositions using the richness of acoustic sound and voices processed through or mixed with electronics. In "Cup of Coffee" (1980), a woman's voice delivers the phrase "I could really use a cup of coffee" in wide-ranging and fantastical pitch and rhythmic modulations via electronics. In other works, David Mahler has used similar techniques to deconstruct human speech and reveal its hidden aspects. "The King of Angels" (1977-1978) uses the voice of Elvis Presley singing the intro to his classic "Heartbreak Hotel." Initially, the voice is cut and widely modulated in pitch, using a process similar to that employed in "Cup of Coffee," but then a low, growling amplitude modulation is employed, Mahler says, "in an attempt to coax the King to speak his own first name." Amazingly, that slowly begins to happen within a loop that emerges from deepening feedback, although the accent is strangely displaced on the second syllable (el-VIS). In an analog system, this is true techno magic. "Rising Ground" (1979-1980) is "a study of the crescendo/decrescendo and pitch characteristics of spinning objects" like coins, metal washers, an aluminum hoop, and a Chinese yo-yo. "The Voice of the Poet" (1982) is based on a Seattle radio interview between composer Ingram Marshall and announcer Jim Wilke; the syntax is deconstructed into a gigantically reverberated and disembodied illogical dialogue of vocal sounds and phrases. "For Thom Miller" (1986) effectively combines a 1973 audio letter from composer Miller, singing voices from a 1975 workshop, and tracks of bells and organ produced in 1984. "Wind Peace" (1972), dedicated to Harold Budd, is a lovely work that uses the sounds of crystal glassware and aluminum pie pans.

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