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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

John Cage/Steve Reich/Michael Tilson/Ralph Gierson - "Three Dances & "Four Organs) Vinyl LP (Angel Records)


I had this vinyl album when it first came out in 1976.  I lost it over the ages, but recently found it at my local record store 'Rockaway' on Glendale Blvd.  It's a fascinating to hear these two very different pieces on one album. "Four Organs" is what it is - four electric organs playing the same notes over and over again, with maracas keeping the beat.   Written in 1970, the cords get longer, as the beat stays consistent.  It's meditative, but also really captures the listener's attention.  For me, I love the sound of the electric organ and having four of them going on the same time, is my vision of aural bliss.  This is the original recording of this work, played by Michael Tilson Thomas (a big figure in Los Angeles classical world), Ralph Gierson, Roger Kellaway and the composer himself, Steve Reich.  There is a much more recent version of this work, and when I have time, I will compare the two. 

Side one belongs to John Cage. Thomas and Gierson on two amplified prepared pianos, and it's intense.  Cage wrote this piece, "Three Dances" in 1944, and it is punk like in its attack on the altered pianos. It's beautiful, yet very foreign sounding.  The interesting point here is that Cage looked beyond the piano keyboard to find or make new sounds out of the standard instrument.   Very rhythmic, with layers of sound on top of it.   To meditate and reflect.  The duo that never gets old.