A wild and exciting duo between cellist Okkyung Lee and legendary turntable improviser Christian Marclay performing live at London's Cafe Oto for a single long track that runs through an astonishing dynamic of invention and atmospheres in a gripping and spellbinding set.
Lee, Okkyung / Christian Marclay
Label: Northern Spy
Released in: USA
"May 2014, arriving home after hearing the Café Oto performance now released as Amalgam, I began to write. Over time the text developed, augmented by relevant dreams, literature and boxing metaphors, to become integrated into my book, Into the Maelstrom. This is an extract from that passage:
"In the grey time of the gig, the drift away time, smell of room time, the time when magical implements and instruments are compressed into their road-sick cases, I watched from an eye corner as the tall man persuaded Christian Marclay to hand over a shard of plastic, placed the black dagger in his bag, then headed home. This savage triangle I recognised as debris...one of many during a duo with cellist Okkyung Lee in which their streams of interpenetrated sounds felt as volatile as live power cables, lightning strikes, snake bites, roaring bears, the finessed husbandry of potentially catastrophic rock falls. Something about the implacability of Okkyung Lee, the steel edge of her cello, not in its sound so much as its unmoveable force, something about the need to react to her presence as grit, as grinding, enforced a move away from the turntables out of which Marclay had been unleashing sound up until that point. Close in to a microphone, he was scratching a record with his fingernails, as if the evolutionary function of nails was as a polystylus designed to scrape music out of any surface: rocks, tree bark, elephant skin, the mist surrounding a waterfall, the bald head of an old person...
After the gig I had stood still on a spot that seemed to confer invisibility, observing, waiting, listening. Somebody new to the whole business said to me, why doesn't everybody know about this music, why isn't it celebrated and presented in big concert halls to huge audiences? She was alight with excitement, the shock of the new. Somebody else said, but it's not always as good as this. I said, well isn't that true of all music, whether it's composition, improvisation, popular, esoteric, critically acclaimed, classic, old, new, whatever? Some is great; the rest is mediocre or otherwise unforgivable... "
Listening now to the recording, more than two years later in a totally different environment is a markedly different experience, yet the intensity that made the concert so remarkable remains palpable. As finely poised as a tug of war between a steam train and a herd of wildebeest, this is music that celebrates all that is volatile, uncompromising, hypersensitive and deliriously inventive in improvisation.credits"- David ToopAlso available on vinyl LP.
• Show Bio for Okkyung Lee
"Okkyung Lee, a New York-based artist and South Korea native, has created a body of work blurring genre boundaries through collaborations and compositions while pushing the limitation of contemporary cello performance techniques. Her music draws from noise and extended techniques, jazz, Western classical, and Korean traditional and popular music.
Since moving to New York in 2000, She has released more than 20 albums including the latest solo record Ghil produced by Lasse Marhaug on EditionsMego/Ideologic Organ, Noisy Love Songs (for George Dyer) on Tzadik.She has performed and recorded with numerous artists from wide ranges such as Laurie Anderson, David Behrman, Mark Fell, Douglas Gordon, Jenny Hval, Vijay Iyer, Christian Marclay, Ikue Mori, Lawrence D "Butch" Morris, Marina Rosenfeld, Jim o'Rourke, Evan Parker, Wadada Leo Smith, C Spencer Yeh and John Zorn to name just a few.
Since 2010, she has been developing a site-specific duo project with New York based dancer/choreographer Michelle Boulé. They have performed at Issue Project Room, Mount Tremper Art Center and send+receive fesival in Winnipeg, Canada and scheduled perform at The Met Breuer Building on March 12th, 2016 as a part of the inaugural program, curated by pianist/composer Vijay Iyer. She opened for a legendary experimental rock group Swans in May, 2015 in Northern Europe and UK. In early 2015, Okkyung presented new compositions commissioned by London Sinfonietta as a part of Christian Marclay's exhibit at White Cube Gallery in London.
Okkyung was rewarded with prestigious Doris Duke Performing Artist Award in 2015 and received Foundation For Contemporary Arts Grant in 2010.
She received a dual bachelor's degree in Contemporary Writing & Production and Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music in 1998 and a master's degree in Contemporary Improvisation from New England Conservatory of Music in 2000."-Okkyung Lee Website (http://www.okkyunglee.info/about)
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• Show Bio for Christian Marclay
"Christian Ernest Marclay (born January 11, 1955) is a visual artist and composer. He holds both American and Swiss nationality.
Marclay's work explores connections between sound, noise, photography, video, and film. A pioneer of using gramophone records and turntables as musical instruments to create sound collages, Marclay is, in the words of critic Thom Jurek, perhaps the "unwitting inventor of turntablism." His own use of turntables and records, beginning in the late 1970s, was developed independently of but roughly parallel to hip hop's use of the instrument.
Christian Marclay was born on January 11, 1955 in San Rafael, Marin County, California, to a Swiss father and an American mother and raised in Geneva, Switzerland. He studied at the Ecole Supérieure d'Art Visuel in Geneva (1975–1977), the Massachusetts College of Art in Boston (1977–1980, Bachelor of Fine Arts) in the Studio for Interrelated Media Program, and the Cooper Union in New York (1978). As a student he was notably interested in Joseph Beuys and the Fluxus movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Long based in Manhattan, Marclay has in recent years divided his time between New York and London.
Citing the influence of John Cage, Yoko Ono and Vito Acconci, Marclay has long explored the rituals around making and collecting music. Drawn to the energy of punk rock, he began creating songs, singing to music on pre-recorded backing tapes. Unable to recruit a drummer for his 1979 performances with guitarist Kurt Henry, Marclay used the regular rhythms of a skipping LP record as a percussion instrument. These duos with Henry might be the first time a musician used records and turntables as interactive, improvising musical instruments.
Marclay sometimes manipulates or damages records to produce continuous loops and skips, and has said he generally prefers inexpensive used records purchased at thrift shops, as opposed to other turntablists who often seek out specific recordings. In 1998 he claimed never to have paid more than US$1 for a record. Marclay has occasionally cut and re-joined different LP records; when played on a turntable, these re-assembled records will combine snippets of different music in quick succession along with clicks or pops from the seams – typical of noise music – and when the original LPs were made of differently-colored vinyl, the reassembled LPs can themselves be considered as works of art.
Some of Marclay's musical pieces are carefully recorded and edited plunderphonics-style; he is also active in free improvisation. He was filmed performing a duo with Erikm for the documentary Scratch. His scene didn't make the final cut, but is included among the DVD extras.
Marclay released Record Without a Cover on Recycled Records in 1985, "...designed to be sold without a jacket, not even a sleeve!" Accumulating dust and fingerprints would enhance the sound. A review in Spin at the time cited Marclay's "coolest theatrical gesture" in his live performances of phonoguitar: the artist strapped a record player onto himself and played, for example, a Jimi Hendrix album. In Five Cubes (1989), he melted vinyl records into cubes. In the 1980s and early '90s, he invented album covers. The Sound of Silence (1988) is a black-and-white photograph of the Simon & Garfunkel single of the same title. In a series of cyanotypes (2007–09), white negatives against a blue background, he unspooled cassette tapes.
Thom Jurek writes that "While many intellectuals have made wild pronouncements about Marclay and his art – and it is art, make no mistake – writing all sorts of blather about how he strips the adult century bare by his cutting up of vinyl records and pasting them together with parts from other vinyl records, they never seem to mention that these sound collages of his are charming, very human, and quite often intentionally hilarious."
Marclay has performed and recorded both solo and in collaboration with many musicians, including John Zorn, William Hooker, Elliott Sharp, Otomo Yoshihide, Butch Morris, Shelley Hirsch, Flo Kaufmann and Crevice; he has also performed with the group Sonic Youth, and in other projects with Sonic Youth's members."-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_Marclay)
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Label: Northern Spy
Catalog ID: NS 082 CD
Squidco Product Code: 22957
Recorded live at Cafe Oto, in London, England, on April 25th, 2014, by Jonathan McHugh.
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1 Amalgam 36:20