Label: Sounds On Paper Editions
Format: 3LP + 2CD + Book
Genre: Sound Art
**Very Last copies around, sold out at source** For more than 60 years, the American composer, Alvin Lucier, has been a vital force, issuing a near endless series of radical waves into the landscape of experimental sound. As he was at the beginning, he remains; one of the most important creative voices witnessed during the last 100 years. On May 14th, 2021, Lucier reached the age of 90. To celebrate the occasion, Sound On Paper Editions has created one of the most striking and ambitious releases in his entire discography, I Am Sitting in a Room. Archival Recordings 1969–2019, a stunning box set, issued in a limited edition of 500 hand-numbered copies. Rather than creating a survey of his astounding career, the set focusses on one of his most important and iconic works, I Am Sitting in a Room, offering never before available access to its many evolutions and incarnations through 10 different version of the work, stretching across 3 LPs pressed on 180g vinyl and 2 CDs, created between 1969 and 2019. In addition to this, the box also contains a 124-page Book that gathers numerous articles and Mary Lucier's complete Polaroid Image Series: ROOM. It’s an absolutely stunning feast for the mind and the ears, that’s essential for any fan of Lucier’s or experimental music / sound. We only have a limited number of copies, so grab one fast.
While already having been active on the scene for a number of years, Alvin Lucier emerged into the public consciousness during the mid 1960s as a member of Sonic Arts Union, the legendary collective that he co-founded with David Behrman, Gordon Mumma and Robert Ashley, beginning a singular and unparalleled body of work, focused around acoustic phenomena and auditory perception, that would stretch over the coming decades, including, among many others, groundbreaking works like Bird and Person Dyning, Music On a Long Thin Wire, and I Am Sitting in a Room, each quietly shifting the understanding of what music could be.
Humble, generous, forthright, and led by an infinite sense of curiosity, Lucier’s work can be understood, in addition to numerous other ways, as a crucial, conceptual bridge between the ideas focused on the inherent value and materiality of sound and acoustic phenomena brought into the public consciousness by John Cage during the 1950, and the constrained musicality of Minimalism that would rise at the end of the 1960s and across the 1970s. Representing this juncture, there is no better work than his seminal composition, I Am Sitting in a Room, the focus of Sound On Paper Editions’ astounding box set.
Created and premiered in 1969, and then released in an early, shortened version in 1970 Source Magazine before being issued in its complete length in 1981 via Lovely Music, I Am Sitting in a Room is among Alvin Lucier's most important and famous works, illuminating the stunning originality of his practice in a single sweep. The work features Lucier recording himself narrating a text - beginning “I am sitting in a room, different from the one you are in now. I am recording the sound of my speaking voice…”, and concluding with “I regard this activity not so much as a demonstration of a physical fact, but more as a way to smooth out any irregularities my speech might have” - which is then played back into the room and recorded in that state - effected by the resonances of the given space - as the process is repeated over the performance’s duration.
Like so many of Lucier’s efforts, within the austere seriousness of its material presence and conceptual implications, there is wry wit, humor, and subversiveness everywhere throughout I Am Sitting in a Room challenges the very nature of presumptions one might have relating to the work’s subjects. Because enclosed area has a characteristic resonance, certain frequencies are gradually emphasized as they resonate within the space across the work’s duration, eventually rendering its guiding text unintelligible as they are replaced by the pure resonant harmonies and tones of the room itself. This plays in sharp contrast to the presence of the composer himself, sitting center stage, and the text he has recited, each slowly dissolving in presence as the room takes a dominant hold over.
I Am Sitting in a Room. Archival Recordings 1969–2019, collected and edited by Jan Thoben, Bernhard Rietbrock and Trevor Saint, gathers 10 of the most important incarnations of this seminal Lucier work. It begins with the preliminary version that the composer produced in the Electronic Music Studio at Brandeis University during 1969, followed by the first official recording, created at his apartment in Middletown CT in 1970. In addition to this, it contains the first real-time live performance using a tape loop, performed live at Deutschlandfunk Broadcasting Hall, Cologne, Germany in 1995, the rare one-off I Am Sitting in a Radio Studio, recorded in 2005 in London at Resonance FM Broadcasting Studio, four different live recordings created across the first two decades of the 20th Century, including the work’s last realization in 2019, and two rare performances that feature other speakers (Ute Birk and Dieter Stöckel), the latter being the work’s first digital real-time live performance in 1994.
An absolute marvel that opens rare access to one of the most important works of 20th Century experimental music by one of the context’s true giants, pulling together some of its most important realizations and displaying its true nature and nuanced differences in each rendering, in addition to the 3 LPs, pressed on 180g vinyl, and 2 CDs - clocking in at over 235 minutes of previously unavailable material - I Am Sitting in a Room. Archival Recordings 1969–2019 also includes a stunning 124-page book that gathers numerous articles and Mary Lucier's complete Polaroid Image Series: ROOM. Essential for any fan of Lucier’s or experimental music / sound, and issued in a limited edition of 500 hand-numbered copies, we only have a limited number, so grab one fast. These aren’t going to sit around for long.