Sunday, April 20, 2008

Roger Miller - POP Record/Evolving

This is probably gonna be the last music upload for awhile (if any more even follow), as this pretty much cleans out my LP collection.

Roger Miller is, of course, the brains behind Mission of Burma. I'm not a big fan of MoB, but the three minutes of static and pops on his solo release encapsulate a brilliant little Cageian-derived idea. It is highly interesting, if nothing else.

Side A ("Pop Record") consists only of pops and crackles - the fuzz before and after tracks on a record. There's a lot more to this than just surface noise - see below. Side B is no doubt just a bit of mischevious fuckery: a few bars of a Bach composition are hand-etched into the vinyl, making it unplayable (on Miller's CD Exquisite Corpse, there is a 30-second track of an attempt to play this side of the record). The record even comes with a disclaimer!

From the album itself:

"POP" Record/Evolving
Organized by Roger Miller
Idea: Feb. 1984
Tape made: July 25, 1985
Inspiration: Duchamp, then Cage


One problem with vinyl records is that they start virgin and degenerate.
Another problem, as John Cage complained, is that recorded performances are frozen, with no life to them.

It was Cage's complaint which caused me to act. I made a recording of sound surface noise, the sounds found before and after the recorded selections, and had this cut to acetate, which is notorious for wearing away quickly. (Although vinyl does not degenerate as rapidly as acetate, the process is essentially the same). The result is a record which constantly evolves and never gets any "worse." The degeneration - old pops wearing away and new ones appearing as the acetate/vinyl breaks up - becomes regeneration, solving Cage's problem with "static" recordings as well.

Side B features four bars of Bach's Fugue XVI inscribed by hand into the vinyl. I had planned this in 1985, but it was not executed on the original acetate until 1994.
A recording of this appears as the final track on Roger Miller's Exquisite Corpse: Unfold (SST CD 307).
Neither RRRecords or Roger Miller can be held libel for any damage to needles incurred while playing this selection.

While you can't really witness the idea first-hand without actually owning the record, you can still get something from it vicariously.

If you're interested in hearing the first play of Side A from this record, then click here. (Obviously I'm not going to play side B).

A very rare and bizarre, yet brilliant little artifact.

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