Wreck 4'33" SSHH #1182 is a radio show I dedicated to the news in November 2014, when it was announced that I was the winner of the David Tudor Memorial Competition of 4'33" at the Faithful Festival in Berlin. The 12 finalists were featured in MorrowSound looped installations at Galerie Mario Mazzoli in Berlin and at the Ear Inn in New York.
Radio Memories "The project, Phantom Radio, is a library of radio memories consisting of 97 entries to date, and aims to describe and collate music’s circulation through people’s lives. The collection of memories highlights very personal voices, and how they also speak toward collective experiences. people sent in stories of events in their lives linked to particular songs – how a song intervened through a form of public broadcast, whether that be radio or other means, to embed itself on the event. Through such work the relation between music and memory is highlighted, creating recognition as to the particular nuance and potency of music to partially forge memory itself, where it becomes hard to know where the song ends and where the memory begins." Also includes memories linked to "Tomorrow" by This Mortal Coil, "Le Marquises" by Jacques Brel, "Flutes of Rajasthan" by Karna Ram Bhil, "I'm Like a Bird" by Nelly Furtado, "I'm gonna lock my heart and throw away the key" by Billie Holiday, "Hong Kong Garden" by Siouxsie and The Banshees, "This Is the New Shit" by Marilyn Manson, "Le Freak" by Chic, and "Comfortably Numb" by Pink Floyd, etc." Brandon Labelle
Song: Magnificent Seven (the Clash), Ref: SLCV_02 Location of memory: New York City, 14th Street / Year of memory: 1981 / by bart plantenga It was the summer of 1981 and I was doing time at an office supply warehouse on West 18th street. My workmate and I used to tune in the radio to WBAI's "Stormy Monday" on the sly between the stacks of cartons of Hammermill copier paper. But also - dare I admit it? - Scott Muni's "Things from England" just so we could seethe and complain that WNEW and Muni were basically over-the-hill sell-outs who ignored everything that was actually happening in England and everywhere else. How could Muni play the latest Genesis while totally ignoring Wire, Gang of Four, Blurt, the Pop Group, the Slits, or the Fall … and their delirious sound of things falling apart. [It can be said that this revelation - the abysmal emptiness of commercial FM - led to my introduction to WFMU in 1981 and some years later, in 1986, I joined WFMU as a DJ to fight the good fight for "our" right to serenade our own nervous systems with our own sounds and lead sonorous lives.]
It was a hazy, humid June day and I was walking languidly west on 14th Street, returning from "lunch" with my Indonesian girl friend. I say quote lunch unquote because we didn't eat anything - just stared and sighed at one another sitting on the back of a park bench in Stuyvesant Square Park along Second Avenue. As I walked back to work, I thought only of her - so young, so devastatingly beautiful and petite, so breathtakingly silent, tranquil, self-assured, intelligent that whenever I was around her I would crack and end up in the middle of some Three Stooges skit - goofball, in other words. This phenomenon of serenity combined with beauty can be so disarming as to make you physically sick - giddy and nauseous … and goofball. I thought of how I - if we weren't meant to be forever - would write her into my first novel, if that was ever going to happen. I had just passed the Palladium [now gone], conniving how I could get myself fired and collect unemployment. As I crossed Broadway, I suddenly heard "The Magnificent Seven" by the Clash on a radio in a car turning right, then I heard it on a radio turned up loud in the strange name-brand electronics store, and then the bad luggage store, the discount mothballed fabrics store, the bright red soda deli, the past-due-date pharmaceuticals discounter, other cruising open-windowed cars, a guy with a big sound system on his shoulders, everyone in the world [as I was experiencing it, anyway] was playing that song, with people singing along, bobbing their heads, waling with various expressive bounces to the funk-driven beats and rap-oid lyrics: "Don't you ever stop long enough to start? / To get your car outta that gear / Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels / Came to the checkout at the 7-11 / Marx was skint, but he had sense / Engels lent him the necessary pence…"
This led to extremely warm whimsically lofty feelings that can only be described as Whitman-esque - Carl Sandburg probably also wrote about it - this epiphany of momentary fellow-hood and the mystifying significance of sudden synchronous instant - every radio everywhere seemed to be tuned to the same song on the same radio station, all singing along to the same lyrics "Better work hard - I seen the price / Never mind that it's time for the bus / We got to work - an' you're one of us / Clocks go slow in a place of work / Minutes drag and the hours jerk…"
Everyone experiencing the same instant of joyous recognition in the beats, the lyrics, but also the fact that everyone knew the tune and had already been living the words for years. And so for that one instant, that one skinny sliver of time you could nod to a Puerto Rican, a Dominican, a Jamaican, an Indian, a disco maniac, someone from the Bronx and they would nod back that nod, that important identification-verification twitch, in passing and no one thought you were homo, weird, addicted, hitting them up for loose change, about to rob them. Soundtrack of the human working world. And then I did something I NEVER-EVER do, I began singing along at the top of my lungs to the music that seemed to be emerging from every open window everywhere - "Wave bub-bye to the boss / It's our profit, it's his loss / But anyway lunch bells ring / Take one hour and do your thanng!" - from Broadway over to 6th Avenue. This moment of pure camaraderie through the portal of sound would probably be shot in slo-mo for the film version. It would be the document of a glorious feeling I have never felt since. It is the last time the center embraced the margins and punk sounded like Woody Guthrie in the Summer of Love, when pure musical joy became an issue of class consciousness, when weirdness and straightness merged as part of the same insane work drudge personality continuum, when all first, second, third, and fourth world peoples for 5 minutes spoke the same language.
And now that I think about it - and not at all sentimentalize - there have only ever been a few moments during my life that this could have happened and ever DID happen - "This Land is Your Land," the night John Lennon was shot, Sly & the Family Stone, James Brown, the Beatles, "Wordy Rappinghood," something by Curtis Mayfield or Marvin Gaye or Marley, I don't know… Hope and clarity, satori and epiphany… but, however memorable, what is five friggin' minutes in the past quarter century?! "News flash: vacuum cleaner sucks up budgie / Oooohh...bub-bye…"
Profile: Lydia Tomkiw
Lydia Tomkiw: Like Royalty in Exile: "I first met Lydia Tomkiw shortly after Reagan’s coronation. I was struck by how her face and words embodied that tenuous femininity known as tough fragility — a teacup balanced on a G-string. She could’ve been Catwoman’s stunt double, Theda Bera’s lost sister, or Sylvia Plath’s ghostwriter. Flickers of defiance flared up around her robust, redhaired countenance as she negotiated between femme fatale and femme tragique." Appeared in Fringecore and Trouser Press. No longer available. I'll upload at some point. Photo of Lydia & Don by author [I think!].
Black Sifichi & Negative Stencil: "Out of Mouth Experiences" review of TICK on Noise Museum Records, originally appeared in American Book Review as part of my BLABBERMOUTHS & Out of Mouth Experiences. Series. Here is an edited version at Real Poetik . “Sifichi works intuitively — heart as map, pulse as route. Language tributaries pass through his spleen-shaped soul and emerge as a manifesto that addresses the individual’s right/responsibility to use language effectively. This implies turning it against those whom would debase or denature it…"
Musical Cocktails in Actuel
Musical Cocktails Co-mixed with Black sifichi for the millennium issue of Actuel in Paris with a stock of wine and pastis and... lubricated illumination.
Brandon Labelle "Out of Mouth Experiences"American Book Reviewreview of Text Equals on Errant Bodies. "Labelle offers a lexicologically clinical approach to language, tracing words back into the oral cavity, employing the techniques of Roland Barthes [text enlivening], Gertrude Stein [materiality of language], and Arthur Rimbaud [metaphysical alchemy of words] to isolate their very essential ‘granular’ subatomic phonemes…"
Profile: Judy Nylon
Live Now, Wise Up, Die Well: An Interview with Judy Nylon, Punk Legend in 3 A.M. Magazine"Sophisticated social samurai, ex-glam punk Judy Nylon has been near the center of many storms but has always had a knack for surviving gloriously. Her album, Pal Judy, co-produced in London with legendary On-U Sound producer, Adrian Sherwood in 1982, has the audiophile cachet of being eternally elusive, perhaps heard only on some late-night pirate radio show. In short, Nylon herself, is hardly out there and this is due to any number of factors but is best summed up by the equation: sexy femme + intelligence + self-esteem (speaks mind) - the good ole boy network = obscurity." Photo by Brian Eno
Review: Toward An Aqueous Subworld: David Toop
Toward An Aqueous Subworld: Exploring the disorienting & inspiring openness: is a Review: Ocean Of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds by David Toop that appeared in January 1998 in the American Book Review and was reprinted in Nettime. "Toop makes vague claims to community, a kind of mat/fraternal order of neurological astronauts, deep sea divers (the world being 70%, and humans 90%, water) of aural-informational space where old methods for judging culture(s) fall by the waveside; where abandoned factories (or silos) give way to the encroaching jungle and its new inhabitants. A world no longer beholden to standard psycho-economic powerbrokers…”
Tackhead’s Heady Tacktics: "A radio exploding under my arm could never change the way I listen to music more than Tackhead (& by extension the entire On-U Sound conspiracy from London)…" Originally appeared in the Paris Free Voice. The article was renovated in 1996 for anthology, REGGAE, RASTA, REVOLUTION: Jamaican Music From Ska to Dub, (Schirmer) 1997. Edited by Chris Potash. Tackhead website.
Review: Curd Duca
Curd Duca: "Austro-Miami disappearing act,Curd Duca’s beautifully impatient blips and angst-otica music has a wonderfully trancy loopiness and is short and abrupt so that it rudely interrupts the gelatinous slide into stupor-mode." Where O Where has Mr. CD retreated to? Blissville? Mantra Mountain? Omtown? Interview and article also available at WFMU archives.
Essay: Boris Vian
Boris Vian: Cultural Pariah, Swingin’ Dilletante, or Iconoclastic Pataphysician?: profile-review of Vian’s I Spit On Your Graves, TamTam Books has also published in English translation Vian's Foam of the Daze and Guy Debord's Considerations on the Assassination of Gerard Lebovici. Originally appeared in American Book Review, reprinted at the Vian site, the Toad Show. An article that originally appeared inGadfly: Boris Vian Gets Pataphysical: Profile of multi-tentacled Jacques-of-all-trades.