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Nam June Paik: Works: 1958-1979

Track List

>Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham
>Hommage A John Cage
>Duett Paik/Takis
>Etude for Pianoforte

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

This is a wide panorama of Nam June Paik work as musician -- 'Hommage à John Cage' (1958-1959), 'Étude for Pianoforte' (1959-1960) and 'Simple' (1961) are good exemple of neodada music and de-structuration in the late 50's, this is basically irreverent audio-collages. 'Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham' (1977) captures an improvised performance by Paik on a de-tuned piano. While 'Prepared for Merce Cunningham' was later mixed and edited for use by Cunningham, this raw, straight-to-tape version is favored by Paik. 'Duett: Paik/Takis' (1979) this is the only piece already released (by 20 years ago on a limited vinyl edition). Paik improvises on piano and voice, while Takis performs on his metal sculptures. Nam June Paik, was born in Seoul, Korea in 1932. After a move to Japan, where he studied the work of composer Arnold Schönberg, Paik came to Germany in 1956 to continue his studies in the history of music. His interests soon turned away from the university setting, to less traditional forms of music leading him to the Westdeutsche Rundfunk's Studio for Electronic Music, where Karlheinz Stockhausen was working. To date, there have been only a handful of limited edition LP and cassette releases of Paik's music, primarily documenting collaborative performances with colleagues and friends such as Joseph Beuys and Charlotte Moorman. This is the first CD release of Paik's music and the first ever release of the early tape collage pieces that were to inform the video and performance works that he has continued to produce over the last forty years.

Album Notes

Recording information: 1958-1979.

Photographer: Peter Moore.

This collection culls unreleased works by composer turned video and performance artist Nam June Paik, plus his "Duett Paik/Takis," made available on LP for a brief period in the early '80s. The two longest works (26 and 29 minutes) are piano-based and were recorded in the late '70s. "Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham" is an improvisation on a detuned piano later edited and used by Cunningham. This is the complete, unaltered tape. The delicate, sparse notes convey tortured feelings. If the piece lingers a little too long, it brings invaluable input to understand the artist's video work. "Duett Paik/Takis" is a scary piece: Paik improvises at the piano, slipping in snippets of Chopin, while Takis attacks his metal sculptures, savagely shredding the atmosphere. The piece was lifted from the original LP and surface noise is audible, but otherwise it makes a fine document. The three remaining pieces are crude sound collages dating from the late '50s. Made to shock and be irreverent, today they sound both limited by the technological means and widely imaginative, especially "Etude for Pianoforte." The historical importance of the music on Works: 1958-1979 supersedes its appeal or sound quality. Consequently it will only interest devotees of mid-century American avant-garde. ~ François Couture


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