All of your favorites, in one place.
**Aready sold-out at source** Since its quiet beginnings back in 2011, the San Fransisco based imprint, Superior Viaduct, has come to hold a dominant place in the cultural landscape, stitching an intertwined narrative, crossing multiple genres, between countless forms and periods of counter-cultural music. In 2017 the label launched one of its most interesting and ambitious projects to date, their new sub-label Etats Units, a sonic intervention - an open challenge to how connections in sound are formed, focusing on some of the most ambitious, but neglected, recorded artifacts from former eras. The incredible effort now returns with its second batch, five more LPs from the outer reaches - Jean Dubuffet's Musical Experiences, Warner Jepson's Totentanz, Remko Scha’s Machine Guitars, John Duncan's Organic, and Annea Lockwood's Glass World, each, in their own way, offering a fleeting image of the ambitious connections once forged between sonic expression and divergent creative approaches, particularly, in this iteration of the series, to the world of fine-art. Together these albums present layering of diverse ideas, which, even decades after first appearing, continue to unfold, offering alternate conceptions of the avant-garde - schisms with history, joined with startling effect.
Jean Dubuffet - Musical Experiences
Jean Dubuffet was one of the most fascinating artists to have emerged in France, following the second world war - a link between his country’s historic avant-garde concerns, the future, and a contemporary zeitgeist, grappling with the psychological truths and horrors of war. A painter and sculptor, he founded Art Brut, a movement which searched for an authentic and humanistic approach to image-making, drawing inspiration from so call “low art” - the drawings of children and folk traditions from across the globe. The result was often raw a brutal, while drenched in delicate emotion and touch.
During the 1960’s, Dubuffet began making music with fellow painter Asger Jorn, part of larger movement of visual artists which included members of Fluxus, Dieter Roth, Joseph Beuys, the Vienna Actionists, beginning to look toward sound in their quest for authentic creative meaning. In 1961 he released his first solo effort, Expériences Musicales, a six 10-inch record set produced in an edition of fifty with original artwork and lithographed sleeves. Since its releases, it has remained one of the rarest and most sought albums in the field of recordings made by fine-artists. Answering the call, in 1973 the composer Ilhan Mimaroglu compiled and released eight of it twenty pieces on his Finnadar imprint, issuing it under the same name. As with before, it has been chased by collectors for decades.
Superior Viaduct’s reissue of Mimaroglu’s edition of Expériences Musicales is as welcome and long overdue as they come. It is a playful, wondrous assembly of sound, made and edited on two tape-recorders at home by Dubuffet, using a range on instruments and non-instrumental sources. Like the series in which it now finds itself, it displays a remarkable and unexpected series of connects. While Dubuffet was untrained, his quest for authenticity, with his delicately tuned creative mind, yield surprising results - the raw untempered intuition of a child, underscored by elusions to contemporary avant-garde classical music, free jazz, and sound’s natural occurrence in the world.
Expériences Musicales is absolutely essential on every possible count. It’s a joy to see this one finally come back. Superior Viaduct’s edition represents the first time it has been issued on vinyl since 1973. Limited to an edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl, it’s bound to be gone in a blink.
Warner Jepson - Totentanz
Warner Jepson was an American composer, sculptor and photographer who spent most of his career working in the San Francisco Bay Area, where he was recognized as a pioneer in that city’s electronic music scene. He was a member of the circle of Bay Area artists which included Pauline Oliveros, Terry Riley, La Monte Young, Morton Subotnick, and Steve Reich, was a fixture of the legendary San Francisco Tape Music Center, and was among the performers who realized the world-premiere of Riley's In C. He retains a crucial place in a seminal period of American creative music, but has never received the attention he deserves, most often overshadowed by his more famous friends and peers. With luck, Superior Viaduct’s reissue of his first album, Totentanz, originally self-released in 1972, will begin to rectify that unjust neglect.
Perhaps Warner Jepson’s lingering obscurity is a consequence of the fact that his was an artist drawn toward the spirit of collaboration, over the totemic status of a composer. One the course of his life, he worked extensively for film, theatre, and dance, issuing only a small handful of recordings, most of which have only emerged in recent years. Totentanz, his first recorded release, is widely recognized as the first piece of electronic music composed to accompany a ballet, Carlos Carvajal's work of the same name, drawing its inspiration from the practice of Dance Macabre during the time of the Black Plague.
Totentanz is the outcome of Jepson’s concrete tape experiments and work on Don Buchla's groundbreaking synthesizer, the Buchla 100. A brilliantly abstract and expressive assembly of organized sound, it shutters, pulses, shifts, and writhes, anticipating the movements of the dance for which it was conceived. One of the great lost works of 1970’s electronic music, and a shining emblem of the wonders which come from collaboration between the arts, Totentanz has remained out of print and virtually unobtainable for decades. Superior Viaduct’s edition represents the first time it has been issued on vinyl since 1972. Limited to an edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl, this is as essential as they come for fans of the historic avant-garde, San Francisco Tape Music Center, and electronic music. Grab it fast.
Remko Scha - Machine Guitars
Remko Scha’s legendary album Machine Guitars is a boundary breaking effort, as seminal in the world of avant-garde guitar, as it is in those of the artist record, and machine music. Scha, who passed away in 2015, lived a kind of double life. He was an artist and musician loosely affiliated with Fluxus, who spend most of his time and energy dedicated to teaching and researching computational linguistics at the University of Amsterdam. Despite the apparent differences, the extremes of his world were bound as a single force - his art and his academic pursuits feeding one and other.
As a linguist, Scha was fascinated by a computer’s capacity for algorithmic, generative creativity. Machine Guitars, his definitive recorded work, extends from this line of investigation. In the explicit sense, he didn’t create the album, rather set its circumstances in play. It is a generative work by automata - machines - motorized, rotating wire brushes and saber saws, paced in front of suspended electric guitars, which Scha arranged and set into play. The result is a stunning marvel - a grinding, spinning, metallic world of microtonal sound which has few equivalents, yet unleashed an entirely new approach to its central instrument, continuing to yield influence and inspiration today.
Original issued by the tiny Dutch imprint Kremlin in 1982, Machine Guitars has remained out of print, sought after, and rare for three an a half decades. Superior Viaduct’s edition represents the first time it has been issued on vinyl since 1972. Limited to an edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl, the album is a seminal effort in the world of experimental guitar - a strange parallel to contemporary works by Glenn Branca and Rhys Chatham, while anticipating sonic artworks by artists like Christian Marclay. A hazy totem between the worlds of conceptual art and avant-garde music, it stands out there on its own. Beautiful, wonderful, and absolutely essential.
John Duncan - Organic
For decades, John Duncan, an artist working across a vast expanse of fields - performance art, installations, music, and experimental video and film, has been adrift in the world. Beginning in his career in Los Angeles during the 1970, over the ensuing decades he has skirted from there to Tokyo, Amsterdam, and a number of locations in Italy, where he currently resides.
Duncan first came to note through his work in performance art, and through his connection to the legendary experimental-music collective Los Angeles Free Music Society, but his links to the world of sound art are even deeper - first appearing as a member of BDR Ensemble, which also included the performance artist Paul McCarthy, and on the legendary Sound compilation, issued by the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporary Art, with Joan La Barbara, Yoshi Wada, Christina Kubisch, Terry Fox, and numerous other.
Duncan's debut album, Organic, the long awaited reissue of which sits before us now, was originally released in a tiny edition on the artist's own AQM imprint in 1979 and distributed by the Los Angeles Free Music Society. It collects some of his earliest and most absorbing noise experiments. Recorded live, the album is composed of two sidelong pieces - Broken Promise, a droning, dissonant work which encounters Duncan on tape and percussion, augmented by Michael Le Donne-Bhennet on bassoon; and Gala, a clattering, repetitive, durational percussion work featuring. Brilliant, engaging and filled with the energy of chance, Organic is a wild meditation in sound, anticipating an entire realm of experimental practice which would take decades to form. The first time it’s been reissued on any format, limited to an edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl, this is an LP not to be missed.
Annea Lockwood - Glass World
The sound artist and composer Annea Lockwood needs little introduction. She has held a prominent place in the world of experimental sound since the 1960’s - one only a tiny number of women, with Pauline Oliveros and Jocy de Oliveira, to have graced the pages of the seminal music journal Source: Music of the Avant-Garde. Tiger Balm / Amazonia Dreaming / Immersion, issued by in 2107 by Oren Ambarchi’s Black Truffle imprint, toped numerous year end lists. Here at SoundOhm, she maintains a place close to our hearts, making Superior Viaduct’s reissue of her seminal debut album, Glass World, a momentous event.
Lockwood was born in New Zealand, first coming to prominence during the mid-1960’s, having moved to London, for her works and performances exploring the sonorous potential of glass, drawing a remarkable and startling range of texture and tone from the material. It was a score for these works which led to her being included in the legendary Source, and it was that inclusion which attracted the attention of Michael Steyn, who encouraged her to record for his label Tangent. The product of two years of extensive work in a small, resonant church in London, documenting the tone and timbre of a remarkable range of glass objects, the resulting album - Glass Works, issued in 1970, is the result of Lockwood’s attempt to present each sound as a piece of music, and her hope to offer listener an immersive depth of experience through the process of listening - to expand the act itself, it is a towering, accomplished piece of work, standing alone in the history of experimental composition.
Glass Works is its own internal world - a series of intertwining resonant fields of texture and tone, at time flirting with the resemblance of modular synthesis, and at others with unplaceable folk traditions and Tibetan bells, while never loosing the sense of its own unique materiality and source. It is a wonder which does everything that the composer set out to and more. Intensely beautiful, sensitive, and engaging, it’s one of those albums which offers a never ending feast. Unquestionably one of the great efforts in 20th Century experiential and avant-garde sound, laying the foundation for a lifetime of remarkable work by one of our most important composers. We can’t recommend this one enough. Superior Viaduct’s edition represents the first time it has been issued on vinyl since 1970. Limited to an edition of 500 numbered copies on clear vinyl, you’re going to kick yourself if you miss it. Grab it before it’s gone.