Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain began with image before sound. Tony Conrad premiered this record way back in 1972 at The Kitchen in New York, and it was seen as a masterpiece of strings and drones that piled up together to create two hours of solid and genuine music. Available on Vinyl double LP and CD.
- Double LP £37.99
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- SV049 / 2LP on Superior Viaduct housed in die-cut gatefold sleeve, with printed inner sleeves, and extensive liner notes
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The music of the warm and wonderful Tony Conrad has enjoyed a renaissance in the last few years, in part due to people finally coming into Outside of the Dream Syndicate -- his drone rock lock-in with Faust -- and in partnership with the excellent Completely in the Present, a biopic focusing on the multi-disciplinary artist’s posi and accessible approach to experimental music, film-making and painting. For one of drone music’s early constituents, as well as a collaborator with some of experimental art’s most serious conspirators, there’s one thing Conrad has said that’s really stuck with me -- “Screw abstract art. I want to make abstract art that’s funny, happy, energetic, joyful.” Listening to his records, you can hear the euphoria at the centre of one of Western minimalism’s earliest pioneers.
There’s apparently plenty of unreleased Conrad material hiding about in vaults at the moment, and Superior Viaduct have been kind enough to give us ‘Ten years Alive on the Infinite Plain’, a record that offers up Conrad’s signature violin-squealing drone alongside two additional experimental legends in Rhys Chatham and Laurie Spiegel. Conrad’s violin has seen many a band set up around it, but what his two collaborators do here is phenomenal, raising the tension of his unstoppable violin stretches with a twangy, harplike slab of wood and a lopsided, go-nowhere bassline. As a trio, they somehow sound melodic and rhythmic without ever being those things. It’s ninety minutes of sonic schadenfreude, an early example of how discordant, droning sounds could come together and sound kinda like jamming trance music.
Perhaps one of the reasons Outside the Dream Syndicate has become so treasured is the way Faust responded to Conrad’s music, that hypnotic, impossible drumbeat somehow tethering a violin that seems to move outside of time. With a different setup, this artist achieves similar juxtapositions; Conrad wails towards infinity while Chatham and Spiegel punctuate his happy void, offering plucks and string-bends that catapult him back into our world. Like most Conrad pieces I've heard, it's the kind of noise I feel like I could listen to forever.
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