** Edition of 200 in gatefold sleeve, also includes a large format 8-page booklet. ** Over their decades of activity, the Italian imprint, Alga Marghen, has illuminated a near countless number of historical artefacts at the juncture of visual art, experimental music and avant-garde deployments of language, helping to radically reshape our understanding of 20th Century creative practice. Embedded within their ever-growing discography lies a small window, via releases by Zaj members Walter Marchetti, José Luis Castillejo and Juan Hidalgo, into the avant-garde happening occurring in Spain during the '60s and '70s, while the country lay under the final decades of fascist rule. Now, Alga opens access to this radical world with El Artilugio, a stunning LP of previously unavailable sonic art by multidisciplinary artist, Manuel Calvo, created in 1966. Creatively thrilling and existing outside the larger historical vision of experimental practice occourring in Europe during that decade, its stunning sounds are issued on vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, accompanied by a large format 8-page booklet with in-depth liner notes by musicologist Gabriele Bonomo, in an edition of 200 copies. As important as world-premiere releases come.
Born in 1934, during the 1950s and '60s Manuel Calvo emerged as a forerunner and a protagonist of geometric abstract painting in Spain, working against the odds attempting freely expression within the context of fascist rule in Spain that had taken hold during the early years of his life. During his early career, he was closely aligned with groups like Equipo 57 and Grupo Parpallo, artists who were active around Valencia and held strong connections to the rest of Europe, developing the principles of an analytical art in opposition to the main currents of informal art and lyrical abstraction.
This restless questioning increased to more radical tendencies in his work, a period spent in Paris and then Brazil, before returning to Spain in 1966 where he fell into contact with artists like Juan Hidalgo and Walter Marchetti, who had founded the Zaj group in Madrid in 1964, and begun creating some of the most subversive means of aesthetic communication encountered during that period.
Calvo’s new phase of radicalism, embarked upon between 1966 and 1967, centered around the transformation of his studio into a laboratory where he could hold a permanent exhibition of his works, opening it to the public with no temporal limits, in the hope to reverse the standing perceptions of what an exhibition was. Within this space, Calvo created El artilugio, a participatory installation where the effects of light variations were randomly activated through simple buttons by the audience, opening the potential for open structures of unlimited possibilities for random variation. In addition to this, through a process similar to that applied to the light, Calvo introduced a reel-to-reel recording machine and a pre-recorded magnetic tape as a sonic element, recording the parasitic noises of an old electric engine that were then introduced into the installation via the reel-to-reel. It is this sound component of the installation that makes up Alga Marghen’s incredible LP, El artilugio, opening long overdue access to this singular creative world.
El artilugio comprise two side long tracks. The first encounters the brilliant, randomized sonic universe that accompanied the installation of the same name, appearing somewhere between sound collage - split and juxtaposed by the participant’s push-button activated manipulation - and a microscopic journey across the surface and generative possibilities of the machine whose sounds it captures, rattling, clicking, scratching, droning, and buzzing as it goes, before fading out in a glissando after nearly half an hour.
As a fascinating juxtaposition, the second side of El artilugio features the performance of an Austrian soprano singer reading out phonems, alliterations of single words, tongue twisters, and texts in different languages, repeated obsessively into states of abstraction that offers a stunning counterpoint to other forms of sound poetry being created during this period across the globe.
Issued in a vinyl edition of 200 copies, in a gatefold sleeve that also includes a large format 8-page booklet, with El artilugio Alga Marghen has offered yet another triumphant window into the incredible world of singular artists working against the odds within fascist Spain, expanding their long-standing commitment to illuminating under-celebrated artefacts from the 20th Century, and changing history as they go. Absolutely incredible, and a must for any fan of sound art, sound poetry, and experimental music at large.