Tuesday, November 11, 2008


An unusual and satisfying Record Club last evening, in no small part due to my having inveigled Keith into attending.

I had missed last month's affair but brought the same two items I'd planned for that date. One was Duchamp's "Sculture Musicale" as interpreted by John Cage on my recently acquired disc of Duchamp's Complete Musical Works, realized by Petr Kotik and the SEM Ensemble. A lovely piece and, given that Keith was going to be there and that he's a pretty huge Duchamp fan, thought it doubly appropriate. Well, the first person up last evening was Gretchen, a guest of Julia and a curator at MOMA. And she goes and plays a Duchamp piece! Luckily not mine, but another, earlier, Kotik version of Erratam Musical with three vocalists (the rendition on my disc has but one, Joan LaBarbara) Shocking! So there's all this discussion about Duchamp's three musical compositions to which I couldn't respond much without giving away my hand...

Two Duchamp pieces at Record Club in one evening. Whoda thunk?

Keith brought an 1889 wax cylinder recording of Brahms playing piano, an amazing piece where you could just barely make out the occasional keyboard sounds beneath the waves of surface noise, rotating at, what, 90rpm or so? His second selection was Purcell, an excerpt from King Arthur, that sounded eerily Glassian, some 300 year before the fact. Nayland played a snippet of Ellen Fullman (which I, ahem, ID'ed) and closed the evening with a scary and bizarre 1972 song by Buffy Sainte-Marie that bizarrely anticipated everyone from Galas, to Harvey to Morissette.

Interesting to hear Keith, Chris Cochrane and Dan get into specifically musical issues on given pop pieces (mistunings, rhythmic gaffes, etc.) Didn't know Mr. Rowe was such a Steve Cropper fan...

3 comments:

Jon said...

"Keith brought an 1889 wax cylinder recording of Brahms playing piano, an amazing piece where you could just barely make out the occasional keyboard sounds beneath the waves of surface noise, rotating at, what, 90rpm or so?"

yeah, he played this for us last night, incredible. he said someone guessed it might be Christian Marclay? and that's a pretty reasonable guess under the circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing.

Alastair said...

dallI believe wax cylinders revolved between 120 and 160rpm, Brian. They lasted just over two minutes until towards the end of their life when Edison came up with a four-minute version - Amberols. But by then the 78 (give or take) rpm record was starting to take off.

On Show 41 of audition, Richard and I played some recordings of Handel's "Israel in Egypt" recorded onto cylinder in 1888 at the Crystal Palace. We dug the palimpsest quality of the recordings and made eai comparisons...