All of your favorites, in one place.
It’s impossible to do the legacy of Pauline Oliveros justice. From her earliest tape works during the late 1950s and her emergence into the public eye as a founding member of The San Francisco Tape Music Center during the early 60s, until her passing in 2016, she was one of the great pioneering voices in among the American musical avant-garde, ultimately becoming its grande dame. There was, and will never be, anyone quite like her. Over the last decade, we’ve been fortunate to witness a growing effort to make the canon of the composer’s work more widely available. Much of the attention has focused on previously unreleased archival works, but many of her seminal releases have remained long out of print. Now, thanks to Important Records, building on the momentum of their incredibly ambitious releases of the composer’s early tape & electronic music, the tide is changing with wonderful vinyl reissues of two of the rarest entries in her catalog - Tara's Room, originally released on cassette in 1987, and Sounding / Way, a self-released tape made with Guy Klucevsek in 1986. Astounding and immersive from the first tone to the last, for fans of Oliveros, or anyone who loves experimental music, these are as essential as reissues come.
Pauline Oliveros - Tara's Room
The ideas and actions of Pauline Oliveros continue to ripple around us - formative influences on history as much as the present day. She changed the way we listen, understand what art and music can be, as well as the basic terms and definitions within the practices of tape, electronic, acoustic, vocal, durational, and minimal music. She was a quiet hand - as radical and adventurous as she was holistic and nurturing, carving a daunting path through more than half a century of American music. Appearing during the same rough era as her seminal albums, Accordion & Voice and The Wanderer, there is no better example of Oliveros’ incredible, paradigm shifting contribution to the landscape of experimental music than 1987’s Tara's Room - out of print for decades and now appearing for the first time on vinyl thanks to Important records.
Featuring two side long works - The Beauty Of Sorrow for accordion and effects, and Tara's Room for accordion and voice, marked by depth and sensitivity, conceived as meditations on Transition and Change, the breadth of Tara's Room unfolds as an overwhelmingly immersive and moving body of sound, unlike anything that any other composer could unleash. This is Oliveros at her height, through and through. Droning, delicate, sorrowful and ecstatic, slow statements and imagistic narratives drift in and out of view, carried by masterfully executed structural and harmonic interplay, offering proofs of the composer’s indications that experimental music is more than an idea. It captures something fundamental, human, and emotive, forming a bond between us and a vehicle to a higher plane.
Unquestionably one of the most important works in Oliveros’ entire catalog, we can’t thank Important records enough for bringing it back. Cut by John Golden and pressed at RTI in order to achieve a quiet, dynamic pressing, and reissued with its original cover, this is an object imbued with love and care. Unquestionably among the most important and essential reissues to emerge this year.
Pauline Oliveros and Guy Klucevsek - Sounding / Way
While Pauline Oliveros regularly collaborated with a diverse range of artists, creating singularly responsive and freestanding musical objects every step of the way, her 1986 self released cassette collaboration with Guy Klucevsek is particularly unique. Following on the back of his contributions to her 1985 album, The Well And The Gentle, for a large ensemble, it captures a rare duo with another accordionist. The outcome leaves you wishing for more.
The conception of Sounding / Way was simple enough, born of the democratic and collaborative spirit which defined Oliveros’ entire career - each artist would write a piece for two accordions which would be performed and recorded together. The first side encounters Klucevsek's Tremolo No. 6, the second is Oliveros’ The Tuning Meditation, both imbued with astounding depth and responsive sensitivity by two of the greatest accordionists of their day.
Tones and harmonics shimmer, drift, rub up against one another, and collide within surprising structures, leaving long tones and flirtations with deconstructed melodies hanging in the air. Two different visions of the same world, executed through the sharing of voice, amounting to the beautiful, creatively challenging, and sublime. Going out of print almost immediately after its initial release and never before reissued in any form, Sounding / Way is not only among the most important of Oliveros’ efforts from the 1980s, but it’s also among the least heard. Important Records reissue has been cut with love and care by John Golden and pressed at RTI, offering it the treatment that this seminal composer deserves. Like their reissue of Tara's Room, it is unquestionably among the most important and LPs to emerge this year and isn’t going to sit around for long. Grab them both while you can!