Music

Pauline Oliveros: Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966

Four challenging and deeply rewarding pieces by the maven of Deep Listening


Pauline Oliveros

Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966

Label: Sub Rosa
US Release Date: 2008-12-09
UK Release Date: 2008-12-01
Amazon
iTunes

Undoubtedly the most important female figure in the early development of avant-garde electronic music, Pauline Oliveros has seen a surge in interest in recent years, with her early work finding its way onto a number of reissues on record labels like Important, Table of the Elements, Pogus, and now the quintessential aural backlogue, Sub Rosa. Oliveros was and continues to be an enigma (she is still active at 76), an openly gay feminist black belt who has developed theories of holistic musical appreciation (“deep listening”) that incorporate mandala-like levels of concentration and subscribe to an improvisational populism that makes every person who can push a button, as well as every leaf rustling through the wind, into an avant-garde musician.

The discreetly named Four Electronic Pieces 1959-1966 compiles Oliveros at the height of her talents. All of the pieces save for one were composed at the San Francisco Tape Music Center, where she served as musical director, working alongside talent like Morton Subotnick, Steve Reich, and Terry Riley. The album’s earliest piece, “Time Perspectives”, serves as perhaps her audition tape for the gig. The home recording is eerily prescient in foreseeing the rise of noise and experimental music tape culture in the 1980s, not to mention downright haunting in texture and timbre. To compose it, Oliveros used cardboard tubes to capture various sounds that resonated against a wooden wall via the reverberation of a bath tub, effectively casting herself as an one woman Einstürzende Neubauten.

The three other works are dynamic longform atonal sound sculptures that involve oscillators, primitive synths, and other means of signal processing that produce a free range whirr of flummoxing noise that sounds like a harsher, dizzier, more dystopian sequel to Louis and Bebe Barron’s score to Forbidden Planet. Overall, this is a collection best absorbed on multichannel speakers positioned out in the caverns of the Adirondacks. But if that’s not an option available to you, a set of quality earphones, willpower, and a meditative frame of mind may suffice.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image