Personnel: Chris Brown (piano, electronics); Pauline Oliveros (accordion, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Philip Perkins; Chris Brown .
Recording information: Berkeley, CA (09/12/2008).
Editors: Philip Perkins; Chris Brown .
Music in the Air is an album of improvised sounds generated by world-renowned avant-accordionist Pauline Oliveros in collaboration with Tzadik recording artist Chris Brown, who is a skilled manipulator of pianos and electronic resources, and mixing engineer Philip Perkins. Actuated shortly before the album's release on Deep Listening Records in 2009, this project yielded results that compare and contrast nicely with Troglodyte's Delight, an album presented in 1990 by Oliveros with Stuart Dempster and the Deep Listening Band. The key phrase here, as one might begin to suspect, is "Deep Listening." Oliveros explained the term with wonderful clarity in the liner notes of her album Crone Music, which also appeared in 1990: "As a musician I am interested in the sensual nature of sound, its power of release and change. In my performances throughout the world I try to transmit to the audience the way I am experiencing sound as I hear it and play it in a style that I will call deep listening. Deep listening is listening in every possible way to everything possible to hear no matter what you are doing. Such intense listening includes the sounds of daily life, of nature, of one's own thoughts as well as musical sounds. Deep listening is my life practice."
Contrary to conventional standards of presentation, there are no recognizable melodies on this recording, which one might say mingles the electro-acoustic aleatory traditions of musique concrète with the intuitive wonderment of sound environment creation. The titles reflect the elemental nature of the work: "Noctilucent Clouds," "Gravity Waves," and "Troposphere." Oliveros grew up toying with crystal and shortwave radio sets, a telegraph apparatus, and a wind-up phonograph, which delighted her sensibilities by slowing down as the spring unwound. She later explained: "I loved all the negative operant phenomena of systems." She obtained a wire recorder in 1947 and her first magnetic tape recording machine in 1953. While she helped to pioneer the use of tapes and electronics in modern music, the primary coordinate of her creative life has always been the accordion, an instrument that she describes as "a big lung" and "the amplification of my own lung." At the age of 32, equipped with her trusty accordion, she "began to set signal generators beyond the range of hearing and to make electronic music from amplified combination tones. I felt like a witch capturing sounds from a nether realm." Sometimes, she has said, "hearing seems to take place in my stomach." There is a liberating aspect to virtually everything that Oliveros has ever shared with the public. "Sound is everybody's material," says she. "Women's music is inside women. The time has come to draw it out and see what it is." ~ arwulf arwulf
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