The Universal Mutant Repertory Company

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The Universal Mutant Repertory Company are most known as a group that included drummer Angus MacLise, multimedia avant-gardist who was the original drummer of the Velvet Underground. The Company were…
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The Universal Mutant Repertory Company are most known as a group that included drummer Angus MacLise, multimedia avant-gardist who was the original drummer of the Velvet Underground. The Company were formed in the late 1960s, and included MacLise, his wife Hetty MacLise (on organ, tanpura, and probably other instruments), Loren Standlee (alto flute), Ziska Baum (Indian dulcimer), and Raja Samyana (guitar). The Universal Mutant Repertory Company was a name devised by filmmaker Ira Cohen, to describe the people appearing in his film Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda. All of the musicians did an improvised soundtrack to that film at St. Mark's Church in New York. A 39-minute tape of the performance, used as the title track, formed the core of the Angus MacLise retrospective CD collection The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda. On this piece, the group played drone-trance music propelled by MacLise's charged hand drumming, given extra psychedelic coating by the employment of four microphones, each run through an echo chamber. Loren Standlee recalled in The Wire magazine that the musicians would play together for as long as eleven hours straight.

For some reason, "Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda" is not credited to the Universal Mutant Repertory Company on the Angus MacLise CD although all five members are listed as the musicians on the track. Another song on the CD, "Heavenly Blue Pt. 4 & 5," is credited to the Universal Mutant Repertory Company, thereby conferring upon them a status as a group with a definite discographical contribution. "Heavenly Blue Pt. 4 & 5," with better fidelity than "Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda," also combines percussion and drone, but puts a greater accent on Indian and Asian music influences.