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Sicilian Narratives

Electroacoustic Music from Sicily, Instituto Musicale Vincenzo Bellini of Catania – Islands are geographically unique in the ways they generate life and culture. On them we find species and traditions which have been forged in the crucible of isolation, from pollens and ideas that blow in with the trade winds, take root and grow without the pressures they would face on the continent. Remote islands such as Soqotra and the Andaman archipelago are renowned for their unique flora and fauna and outlying cultural tropes, while others like Zanzibar and Bali, closer as they are to the continental mass, respond more regularly to transmissions from culture-at-large. The Regione Autonoma Siciliana is, like all islands, the interface for … [Read more...]

Dronescapes in Red

Vittorio Gelmetti, Composer, Electronic Soundtrack for Il Deserto Rosso (Antonioni, 1964) –  The use of electronic music composed by Vittorio Gelmetti for the soundtrack of Antonioni's first color film Il Deserto Rosso, contributed greatly to the film's aesthetic complexity as well as the displaced psychological underpinnings of it's characters. Rarely heard before in cinema, this example of early musique concrète would serve as a harbinger of the now, widespread use of electronica in film and television. -NC Vittorio Gelmetti belongs among the earliest and most significant pioneers of electronic music, not only because his earliest compositions date to the mid-1950s, but also because he was self-taught and drew his inspiration not … [Read more...]

End of Empire

Persepolis (1971), Iannis Xenakis – "Nous Portons La Lumiere de la terre" "We Bear the Light of the Earth" The Iranian Revolution of 1979 was fomented by the unusual pairing of ultra-conservative Islamists, reacting against the so-called “cultural contamination” of Iran by the West, and by various leftist elements, long outraged by the nation’s history of injustice, brutality and extravagance under the rule of the Shah. Left and right together filled the streets for months of protest. They marched on and sometimes burned cinemas, casinos, banks, hotels and other ostensibly un-Islamic institutions and luxuries, paving the way for the return of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Symbolic of the extravagance perpetrated by the regime of … [Read more...]

Alain Neffe and the Home-Taped Electronic Music Revolution

The Insane Box – Alain Neffe launched his first tape label at home in Belgium in 1981. He called it Insane Music Contact and his first installment was called Insane Music for Insane People. Thus began a nearly thirty year foray into home-made, visionary and utterly unfashionable electronic music that has hardly made anyone involved a household name. Insane Music released 55 titles in its most prolific years (1981-87). Five of these were vinyl records and the rest were cassettes tapes. Why cassettes tapes? Magnetic tape was the obvious solution to the problem facing many artists working without record contracts in those days. Cassettes could be recorded at home, produced at home, dubbed at home, and sold or traded by mail. No need for … [Read more...]

The Window

The Lian and Chirgilchin Ensembles Collaborate – On April 9th, a Friday night at California Institute of the Arts, there took place an intimate and profound collaboration from a far away part of the world. The Herb Alpert School of music hosted The Lian Ensemble and Chirgilchin in their The Wild Beast music pavilion (aptly named after composer Morton Feldman's metaphor for the untamable in music) and a new sound emerged. The Lian Ensemble, a Los Angeles based group whose roots lie in the Persian classical and mystical Sufi traditions are no strangers to the idea of fusion. Each of their nine albums  incorporates such diverse different musical styles as jazz, Flamenco, and Hindustani. The addition of Chirgilchin, the Tuvan throat singers, … [Read more...]