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Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Karl Appel - "Musique Barbare Van" (Sub Rosa) Vinyl

The visual artist and poet, Karel Appel, was one of the founders of the art group COBRA, which lasted from 1948 to 1951.   The group was the first burp for the oncoming Situationist International, as well as the Letterists.  Beyond that, Appel had a long career in the arts, and even made an album.  Which is "Musique Barbare Van."  It's a soundtrack to a documentary on Appel by Jan Vrijman.  The music / recording made with Frits Weiland, is classic Musique Concrete, circa. 1963.  Percussions of all sorts, a piano/organ here and there, as well as Appel yelling and doing vocals. 

I'm fascinated by painters or visual artists who do something else besides the visuals.  For instance, making an album or making music.  We have five senses, and an artist should be free to appeal or use different mediums - such as the use of ears or making sounds for the ear - which also has a theatrical aspect to it as well.  Listening to the album, one gathers Appel just went amok in the recording studio - and he used it as an extension of his painting studio, perhaps, or in theory.   

And as theory goes, COBRA was very much attached to the idea of children looking at art.  In other words, they strip away the sophistication of an adult and jump into the playground that is in their mind.   The music or sounds on this album reflects that attitude.  There are moments (especially with the electric organ) that is quite beautiful.   This album is a must for those who are interested in avant-garde Europe of the mid-20th century.   Look at it as a document, or a work of art - it works in both positions.