Saturday, February 26, 2011
Malcolm Goldstein - Vision Soundings
Malcolm Goldstein is a composer and improviser with strong aesthetic ties to Pauline Oliveros' Deep Listening movement, and he developed his work around the same time as her, from the 1970s to the present. Much of his music consists of his improvised "soundings", which are deep explorations of the different textures which the violin is capable of. He's very committed to improvisation, and the few compositions of his I've heard composed for other people to play also consist of frameworks for improvisation. He has CDs available on XI and New World Records.
Goldstein's work isn't chaotic, jazz-influenced free-improv. His improvisations involve playing one note for extended periods of time with gradual textural variation. It's similar to, again, Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening improvisations, and also brings to mind some of Alvin Lucier and James Tenney's work.
Side A of this LP, "Center of Rainbow, Sounding" is a live recording of a 1983 performance recorded by Phill Niblock at his Experimental Intermedia space. Goldstein plays a sort of screechy rapid tremolo on multiple strings continuously throughout the nearly 20 minutes of this piece, and scarcely varies the pitches he's using. Most of the change in sound comes from changing his bow position and technique. It's not exactly drone music, as it's very active, and the rapid notes never really blend together. It's an interesting exploration of the possibilities of improvised solo minimal violin playing, quite different from the approaches of, say, Tony Conrad or Henry Flynt.
Side B of the LP is "Vision Tree Fragment," a live piece from 1984 recorded at New York's Roulette. This piece has Goldstein drumming and scraping a maple tree limb. Similar to his violin soundings, Goldstein searches the maple limb for different sounds and textures, the sound shifting as he moves around the limb and varies his playing. He also sings long tones to accompany the maple limb, and varies his vocal textures by singing different vowels and such. It has the feeling of a ritualistic, shamanic ceremony. Neat stuff.
Vision Soundings was self-released by Goldstein in 1985. Some CDs of his have other recordings of his Soundings performances, but this LP is the only place these particular ones were released.