Various - 5 September 1982 - A Tribute to John Cage (LP Fylkingen)
There's something arse-clenchingly embarrassing about tribute albums but remain calm, this one isn't what you fear. Five of Sweden's more interesting composers created new tape works (except Mellnäs who didn't use tapes) to celebrate John Cage's 70th birthday. The compositions were then performed with Cage at a gig at Fylkingen, Stockholm. Less about trying to recreate a past, they push forward.
A piece in several parts, Lars-Gunnar Bodin's composition begins with a rapidly spinning tape loop hurtling along then suddenly changing pitch, like stepping off a kerb that's a little higher than you expected. Energetic and lively it morphs into a primordial gloopy bubble and squeak that changes again into something from the cabinet of the Radiophonic Workshop. The composition 'For John III - (They Extricated Their Extremities plus for John) (1982)'
The analogue beeps of Leo Nilsson's 'Early Ear (1982)' begin as a lonesome and moving run but as it progress it builds a kinetic energy that skitters rapidly all over the place like an explosion in a popcorn factory. It's easy to see the right visuals for it.
Folke Rabe's 'To the Barbender (1984)' is a collage of sounds. Field recordings of traffic, windows smashing, orchestral sweeps, cuckoos. An aural cinema. It's the making of music out of random sounds which is particularly pleasing to hear. It broadens the ability to listen more carefully and to hear patterns, logically music runs which could have equally been ignored as background sounds as you walk by.
Sten Hanson's 'The Flight of the Bumble Bee - variations (1982)' manipulates and processes a sentence regarding the bumble bee defying the laws of aerodynamics. First taking the line as spoken, the gradually taking it through several process sequences until it quickly becomes electric and unrecognisable, eventually turning into swopping tones. It's the cutting from one process to another that brings the listener from comprehension to incomprehension, and back again, from moment to moment.
The only non-tape piece here is Arne Mellnäs' '31 Variations on CAGE (1982)' which does exactly what it says. Two pianos and percussion go through all 31. No processing, pure live playing. A wonderfully intricate pattern manifests itself. Lovely!
This is the first time I've sat through a supposed 'tribute album' and not wanted to murder all involved. Quite the opposite in fact, Interflora is winging bouquets of exquisitely scented flowers to them as we speak. HM