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Spacecraft/Unified Patchwork Theory


Originally released in 2001. In the fall of 1966 a group of composers that included Frederic Rzewski, Alvin Curran, Allen Bryant, Jon Phetteplace, Giuseppe Chiari and Richard Teitelbaum organized "Avanguardia Musicale I," a festival of several consecutive nights at the Accademia Filarmonica Romana. The program included tape music, Fluxus performance art pieces, and live electronic works. It was also the beginning of the group MEV. One year later, the group was in Rome, Italy, but also involved in a very active period of touring in Northern Europe, mostly in Germany. It was the period of the first major collective piece, "Spacecraft." In many ways, the music of that period was the most unique and radical in the group's 30-year history. The instrumentation included Rzewski's amplified glass plate to which he attached coiled and stretched springs of various kinds, all highly amplified with a contact microphone. With it he generated a range of sounds from the screaming of wild animals and viscous percussive clangs to richly resonant low gong sounds. Alvin Curran used contact mikes to amplify a large Italian olive oil can, an African thumb piano and various items of junk he scavenged at the site of the gigs, as well as a distorted amplified trumpet. Allen Bryant's idiosyncratic instrument, an old electronic organ he had bought in a Roman flea market and re-wired by trial and error until he got the sound he liked, and Richard Teitelbaum's Moog, which he played by twirling knobs while triggering it with his brainwaves and toes and amplified heartbeats, made up the "synth" section. Finally, Ivan Vandor's (at that time also member of Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza) wildly wailing alto sax -- usually long, high sustained screams or low guttural honks -- rode above the dense noise textures that gradually evolved and grew over time into violent climaxes. These in turn gave way to soft, slow and meditative sustained vocal and electronic drones and chants. This CD, the first in a series of editions devoted to MEV, introduces us to the integral 42 minutes of "Spacecraft" recorded in Cologne, Germany (1967), as well as to "Unified Patchwork Theory," recorded at Rote Fabrik in Zurich (CH), in 1990 featuring Curran (sampler and synths), Rzewski (piano), Teitelbaum (synths), Steve Lacy (soprano sax) and Garrett List (trombone, voice and electronics). Digipack CD edition including a folded insert with original photos of the group from 1967, the text by Frederic Rzewski titled "Plan for Spacecraft" (first published in Source Magazine) and an excerpt from "Some MEV Memories" by Richard Teitelbaum.