Saturday, March 23, 2019


Shoutout to the @GreatestMusicOfManAndWomankind IG feed, which recently turned me on to the work of Charles Amirkhanian. From 1969 to 1992, he was the music director of KPFA (Berkeley, CA), the flagship station of the Pacifica Radio Network, where he hosted countless programs featuring guests from the world of experimental contemporary classical avant-garde music (or, in the parlance of the times: "new music"). Said IG feed pointed out a 2-hour 1980 episode of Morning Concert that was hanging out on, in which Amirkhanian's guest was Eliane Radigue, and from there I found a 1979 episode of the same program with guests Joan La Barbara and Morton Subotnick. I wondered if Joan and Morton appeared in two different segments, but it turns out they were a married couple then (how did I not know that?) and still are (he's almost 86 and she'll be 72 in June). They both sound so cool and intelligent and nicely humored, and wow, the music on the show: a super-great excerpt from a Subotnick piece called "A Sky of Cloudless Sulfur," and my god, the holy of the holies, Joan's "Twelvesong." About 20 years ago (around the same time I bought my own cheapo second-hand copy of Silver Apples of the Moon), I was lucky enough to first hear her extended vocal pieces, thanks to an #oldhead (music-hound college professor, in this case). They've always haunted me, but "Twelvesong" is the hauntiest of them all, her unreal non-electronic vocal soundscape (the title refers not only to the 12:12 running time but to "twelve tracks of voice, layered") getting way into oft-forgotten subconscious nooks. (Not to mention crannies.)

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