rare and forgotten experimental music

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Alvin Curran - Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri

Alvin Curran was one of the members of the Musica Elettronica Viva collective, along with Fred Rzewski, Richard Teitelbaum and others.

Curran's first solo album, Songs and Views of the Magnetic Garden, was originally released in 1975, and consisted of largely improvised live electronic and acoustic drone music. Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri was released a short while later, and continues in a similar vein, with more soundscapey tapes, vintage synths, and acoustic instruments.

Side one starts with recordings of a cat purring, and then goes through a long series of electronic synthy drone bits, with occasional soundscape recordings underneath the synths.
Side two goes through a lot of change in its 28 minutes, starting with Alexis Rzewski speaking (I'm guessing he was Fred's young son). It goes into some toy piano, then quite a bit of super-fast minimalist piano playing, in the vein of LaMonte Young & Charlemagne Palestine's piano music. The piece ends on some nice improvised jazzy piano, which fades into electronic chimes and tapes of dogs barking.

While Songs and Views was rereleased on Catalyst, a subsidiary of BMG, in the mid-90s, Fiori Chiari has remained out of print for the past 30 + years, never released digitally. Shame. It would be really great if someone out there collected all of these 70s Curran LPs together and rereleased them.

New World records has, in fact, collected all of Curran's 70s LPs and rereleased them, in a 3CD set. Looks amazing. Took down the download link since this is now commercially available and I don't want to bite into their sales. Go check out the set HERE


Eclat2000 said...

Dear Aaron,

With this I send you a heartfelt thank you for making available the Alvin Curran piece 'Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri'. I have attended several Alvin Curran concerts in the late 1970's, early 1980's at the Museum of Modern Art here in Amsterdam. I cherish such good memories of these very special concerts.

I indeed do have the official cd release of 'Songs and views of the Magnetic Garden' and I am looking foward to hear your, for me still unknown, 'Fiori Chiari Fiori Oscuri' installment.

Other Curran works wich I hope someday will be made available are the impressive compositions 'Canti Illuminati' and 'The Works'. Both of wich were performed in Amsterdam and have been recorded and broadcasted and maybe even commisioned by VPRO radio, The Netherlands.

Aaron, keep up the good work and thanks again!!!


Anonymous said...

Alvin always had a tape recorder at hand, and was always taping sounds, noises, conversations. The quote "Gionni, guarda la, un ragno gigante", is a reference to the giant spider in the Tintin graphic novel "L'Étoile mystérieuse". "Gionni" was my best friend. That conversation was taped while walking around Lago di Albano or Castelfusano (30 km SE of Rome, Italy), probably in 1968. The part in english about war of Troy was taped probably in 1975.

A funny story: Charles Amarkanian, music director at a radio based in San Francisco, CA, broadcasted side B of this LP for his listeners in February 1980, right after the LP was published, and explained in the intro that "Alexis is 6 years old". Then, by a remarkable coincidence, dad Frederic and I were traveling right into SF the next day, and where introduced to Charles at a dinner. "this is Frederic Rzewski", no problem there, handshakes and all. Then, dad said "and this is my son, Alexis". At that point, Charles put his hands to his hair and screamed: "I can't believe this, you are NOT SIX YEARS OLD !!!"
Everyone that saw this were surprised, and could not make sense of it. I did. Explanations soon followed. The next day, at a radio interview for dad, I was briefly introduced into the broadcast by Charles: "... and folks, remember two days ago we broadcasted [...] which had the voice of six-year old Alexis? well, he is not six-year old, and he is right here in the studio. Alex, how do you like the Bay Area?" and that was my 30 seconds of fame on-the-air. The next-next day, after dad's concert and during the reception, had some ladies come up to me saying "I heard your voice when you were six years old".

Dionys said...

New World Records 3 cds set is great ! Alvin is one of the more important living compositor. His music sounds always so fresh, so...illuminated. I wrote an article (in french) about that issue, and some more about Alvin.(here : http://inactuelles.over-blog.com)