Nam June Paik

Works: 1958-1979

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This collection culls unreleased works by composer turned video and performance artist Nam June Paik, plus his "Duett Paik/Takis," made available on LP for a brief period in the early '80s. The two longest works (26 and 29 minutes) are piano-based and were recorded in the late '70s. "Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham" is an improvisation on a detuned piano later edited and used by Cunningham. This is the complete, unaltered tape. The delicate, sparse notes convey tortured feelings. If the piece lingers a little too long, it brings invaluable input to understand the artist's video work. "Duett Paik/Takis" is a scary piece: Paik improvises at the piano, slipping in snippets of Chopin, while Takis attacks his metal sculptures, savagely shredding the atmosphere. The piece was lifted from the original LP and surface noise is audible, but otherwise it makes a fine document. The three remaining pieces are crude sound collages dating from the late '50s. Made to shock and be irreverent, today they sound both limited by the technological means and widely imaginative, especially "Etude for Pianoforte." The historical importance of the music on Works: 1958-1979 supersedes its appeal or sound quality. Consequently it will only interest devotees of mid-century American avant-garde.

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