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An Interview with Electronic Musician Ian Boddy — By accounts, Ian Boddy’s entrée into sound art was spontaneous. While reading biochemistry at Newcastle University in the late 1970s he walked into the Spectro Arts Workshop’s electronic sound studio and, in one sense, never walked back out. These were the years of the Berlin School, when Tangerine Dream, Manuel Göttsching, Klaus Schulze and others were building long, innovative synth structures on the Krautrock floorplan, and when such things could actually be heard on late night BBC Radio and the Saturday afternoon Alan Freeman Show. So much seemed possible in those years. The analog synth was a gateway into a new universe of expression, especially for those, like Boddy, without … [Read more...]


Interview with Georgian composer Natalie Beridze – A discussion of Georgian music in polite company usually relays between two poles: Zakaria Paliashvili and polyphonic choral singing. Little else of Georgia’s folk, classical and modern forms have been granted a visa to cross the borders. And yet, the more I move about the country, the more intrigued I become by the diversity of styles. Song and dance traditions vary between regions and even between villages. There is a lively hip-hop scene in K’ut’aisi, and the whiff of a garage band catches my ears some nights in my neighborhood here in T’bilisi. The conservatory is still a lively place. For better or for worse, the Rus-pop virus has infected the disc-players of all who own a … [Read more...]

Time Within Space

Remembering Milton Babbitt, The Path Least Taken – At age 76, Milton Babbitt received his PhD from Princeton University for his thesis on 12-tone theory—an event in and of itself unremarkable, and one the composer himself hardly noticed. That it came forty-six years after the thesis’s submission makes it somewhat more intriguing. By way of explaining the delay, the university claimed its readers in the music department at the time had simply not understood it. Impossible to understand, unplayable, unimpeachably academic—such are the stigmas notching the years gone and criticisms leveled against Babbitt’s far-ranging oeuvre. Yet there are also listeners who, without comprehending the high math architecture of Babbitt’s music, have … [Read more...]

Beatific Annihilation_Part 1

Swans, Early Ruminations, 1981-1997 – One evening in 1981, the members of a New York City band called Circus Mort agreed to call it quits. Two of them, Jonathan Kane and Michael Gira, left the rehearsal space to get beer and cigarettes, and by the end of the night they had begun a new band called Swans, under Gira’s direction. Kane stayed with Swans less than two years and many other members have come and gone; only Gira has remained constant and for thirty years Swans has been his personal pursuit of the same untailored nihilism pursued by Nietzsche, Baudelaire, Strauss, and Yeats. Buttressed by No Wave rebar, Swans rebuilt the psychedelic castle with open-tuned guitar sound sheets and sonic cement. Yet at heart it was always pure … [Read more...]

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...]