Industry Selection - John S. Hall (King Missile)
'King Missile - Gay/not gay' was selected by myself (Robder) in our September 2013 playlist.
It was also voted track of the month by our faithful regulars.
King Missile is an American avant-garde band that has been led in various disparate incarnations by poet/singer John S. Hall since 1986.
I’d describe John S. Hall as a sexual revolutionary and I fell in love with his work after hearing ‘A suggested response to the coming crisis' on Black Rock City's radio station in the mass exodus convoy from Burning Man 2013.
In 1985, writer John S. Hall began presenting his work at open mike poetry readings. After three shows, Hall became a “featured” poet at the Backfence, a performance venue in Manhattan’sGreenwich Village.
In 1986, feeling that “20 minutes of me reading poetry would be totallyboring,” Hall asked his guitarist friend Dogbowl to augment his performances with original music. Dogbowl agreed, and with the addition of bassist Alex DeLaszlo, drummer R.B. Korbet, and xylophonist George O’Malley, King Missile (Dog Fly Religion) was born.
In John’s words:
"I think these are some of the common themes: a) life is hard, brutal, capricious and unfair, b) sometimes there is a benefit to seeing it clearly, and acknowledging it truthfully…, and c) other times it is best to find something to laugh about, lest despair crush one completely. I find a lot of humor in shocking or so-called taboo things: castration, excrement, violence (usually self-inflicted or inflicted on the narrator, ‘[Martin] Scorsese’ being an exception), sex and sexual perversions… etc.”
Thanks for lending us your ears John! Love from all of us at Bunker Sessions…
Elliott Carter - Sound field [Bridge Records Inc] 2010
In deciding what to choose, I looked at what other people chose. The first name that popped out at me was that of Penny Rimbaud. I met Penny several years ago when we were on a spoken word tour together. Penny chose a work by Benjamin Britten, perhaps the greatest English composer of the 20th Century. In fact, he chose one of Britten’s best works. So I thought I’d choose a work by one of the best American composers of the 20th century: Elliot Carter. The piece I’m choosing is not Carter’s best work, but I’ve chosen “Sound Fields” for its brevity (it’s under 7 minutes) and its austere, haunting beauty. The stings-only orchestra uses no vibrato, and the texture and tone recall another 20th century master, Morton Feldman (although maybe not as much as Carter’s “Wind Rose”, composed a year later-that really sounds like Feldman to me).
It may be useful to know that Carter’s inspiration for “Sound Fields” was what Carter referred to as “Helen Frankenthaler’s fascinating Color Field pictures.” I might also note that this is actually a 21st century work, composed when Carter was 99. He died in 2012.
To me, “Sound Fields” evokes American abstract expressionist painting only somewhat. What really strikes me is how beautiful and ominous it sounds. This is probably because I am sure I have heard similar music in horror films (perhaps Bernard Herrmann?). So one thing the listener might do is to try not to imagine a slow, knife- wielding murder approaching a sleeping victim, and rather to imagine large canvases dominated by a single color, perhaps something like this:
Or, perhaps more obviously, most of the work of Rothko. Anyway, I hope at least some of you enjoy the work. Here are links to two different versions I found on you tube:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CyrAVD9S2TI (I believe this recording is the one offered for , here under a pound):
And here is a live recording:
King Missile - Gay/not gay can be heard on Bunker Sessions episode #21.
Elliott Carter - Sound field can be heard on Bunker Sessions episode #27.