The 12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival
Since its humble founding over a decade ago, the Los Angeles based imprint, Recital, has become an unmissable force in the landscape of experimental sound. Run by the composer Sean McCann, the label has continuously mined the contemporary contexts and shadowy histories of sound art, poetry, and musical experimentalism, bringing forth remarkable recordings by Dick Higgins, Daniel Schmidt, Philip Corner, Adriano Spatola, Geoff Hendricks, Loren Connors, Sarah Davachi, Jackson Mac Low, Roger Eno, Annea Lockwood, François Dufrêne, and a great many more.
Their latest, the “12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival” box set, has taken years to assemble and prepare and might just be their most ambitious endeavour to date. Drawing on audio recorded at the festival, held in New York in 1980, this remarkable object contains nearly five hours of audio from 30 artists, including Carles Santos, Jackson Mac Low, Bernard Heidsieck, Katalin Ladik, Jerome Rothenberg, John Giorno, The Four Horsemen, Charlie Morrow, and Alison Knowles; a 240-page book with biographies, texts, and artwork from each artist supplements the edition; and program notes by Charlie Morrow and Sean McCann, all housed in a printed box in a hand-numbered edition of 200 copies. It’s an astounding thing and an absolute must for any fan of sound poetry and experimental practice at large.
Held at the Washington Square Church in New York City during April of 1980, the 12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival was organized by Charlie Morrow and Sten Hanson with a program that included modern, performance, phonetic, and concrete poetry, as well as tape and spoken word compositions, and text-based works with instrumental accompaniment. Over ten days long, the sprawling event was the final in a series that had begun in Sweden during the late 1960s. Very little on its scale, relating to these territories of creativity, has ever been staged anywhere since, imbuing Recital’s box with that much more historical importance.
Across its length, the “12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival” box set displays a remarkable range vocal and text based of sound practice, highlighting generational changes transpiring at the dawn of the 1980s, as the more senior artists covey a remarkable sense of craft, and the young move toward more experimental realms of experimental sound practices. Importantly, Recital, in curating their survey of the events, took great lengths to emphasize quality and vision, rather than defaulting toward favoring more well-known artists. Åke Hodell and Laurie Anderson, for example, both performed at the festival, but are absent from the box, while numerous lesser-known names are placed at center stage.
Presenting an astounding four cassettes worth of material, across the box’s length we encounter wild, verbal onslaughts by Carles Santos, John Giorno, and The Four Horsemen, as well as much of the same from Bernard Heidsieck, whose shouted and snarled words offer fascinating glimpses of the character of the space in which they were captured. Against this, we are ushered into the more subtle realms by Alison Knowles’ nearly half hour long theatrical ensemble reading (with bean performance) of “Fishes of the Philippine Seas”, the subdued conceptual work of Robert Joseph and Pier Van Dijk’s Untitled work for voice and the sound of turning book pages, the wildly experimental “Earthworm” by Larry Wendt, featuring heavily processed vocals, mashed to the point of nonrecognition, and Beth Anderson’s meandering narrative, “Six Stories in Sequence”, with piano accompaniment. If that wasn’t enough - and that barely scratches the surface - there’s also a rare performance by R.I.P. Hayman's Ocarina Orchestra, offering one of the only encounters outside of their incredible rare 1982 New Wilderness Audiographics cassette.
A crucial document on purely creative terms, each artist delivering stunning, never before available recorded works, Recital’s “12th Annual International Sound Poetry Festival” box set doubles as an astounding window into a lost world. The four cassettes are accompanied by a 240-page book with biographies, texts, and artwork from each artist supplementing the edition; and program notes by Charlie Morrow and Sean McCann, all housed in printed box in a hand-numbered edition of 200 copies. Truly amazing! Check out the full list of artists below and grab a copy before they’re all gone!
Artists included: Carles Santos, Jackson Mac Low, Greta Monach, Bernard Heidsieck, Katalin Ladik, Jerome Rothenberg, Mary Ellen Solt, John Giorno, Armand Schwerner, Charles Stein, Beth Anderson, Charles Amirkhanian, Richard Kostelanetz, Franz Kamin, Michael Gibbs, The Four Horsemen (bpNichol, Rafael Barreto-Rivera, Paul Dutton and Steve McCaffery), Adriano Spatola, Paula Claire, Sten Hanson, Charlie Morrow, Glen Velez, Larry Wendt, Nina Yankowitz, Robert Joseph, Pier Van Dijk, Alison Knowles, Bern Porter, P. Clive Fencott, Bob Cobbing, and the Ocarina Orchestra.