Sunday, 20 September 2015

New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments

Listening to Max Eastley and David Toop’s album New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments, originally released on Brian Eno’s Obscure Records in 1975... Both composers take a side each on the original LP but I find Eastley’s four contributions the most compelling, his customized musical instruments using the natural environment – wind, water, to generate the sounds heard on the album. The first track Hydrophone named after a device which interacts with water, produces a very eerie lament that could pass for the sound of wolves whining across a valley, while the metallic-sounding Centriphone might have been lifted from an early Z’Ev album. Truly extraordinary stuff. What’s more, Eastley’s instruments can be enjoyed as works of sculpture, like the Metal Wind Flute pictured below...

Listening to these self-built musical automata puts in mind the singing statues of J.G. Ballard’s short-story collection Vermillion Sands. New and Rediscovered Musical Instruments is currently out of print but the album can be downloaded at the ever fantastic UbuWeb. Also worth checking out is the 26min documentary Clocks of the Midnight Hours from 1986 which explores Eastley’s music and sculpture (and sees him duetting with Evan Parker) – available to watch on youtube

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