Malcolm Goldstein

Variations, Vol. 2/Eight Whiskus/Ryoanji

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Why would Everest release a second volume of this miserable live material? Most of this record sounds like it was recorded by someone hanging a microphone out the window of a nearby building, and comparing it with the deeply thoughtful and delicate creations of Cage at his best simply leads to the question of just what his interest was in these types of events at all, other than in perhaps gazing at some shocked faces. This is not an aspect the listener can enjoy, although anything would be an improvement. Everest, a budget line that did make a fair amount of good music available to cheapskates, would probably have pumped out 50 volumes of this crap had the market been there. Unfortunately, there seem to be no known cases of anyone buying both copies of this set, although Cage scholars continue to research the question. Many copies were sold of either volume, with buyers in some cases not realizing which was which. In an artistic move that cannot be blamed on the I Ching, Everest packaged the volumes identically, other than the strip of type that says volume two. If there is a difference between the two records, it is the kind of differences one might notice between the output of a fast-food chain in several different parts of the country. These records are just as likely to cause a stomach ache. Adding that the music might lead to a headache is probably not a good idea, since some avant-garde listeners would take that as a recommendation.

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