Z'EV: ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE 1968 - 1990
Intro: Energy Spectrum [Jon Wozencroft]
A Short History
The Processing of a Non Resident
Access to a Relativistic Awareness
Analog Acoustic Assemblage
Towards a Dialogue in Composition
The Scales of Formation [excerpt]
Songs of the Jackal [excerpt]
Verse from out the Cauldron [excerpt]
Words (Doro Franck)
Wrapt in a Blanket
"I frequently hear music in the heart of noise"
"The way you change and help music is by trying to invent new ways to play"
Thanks are due to:
Charles Ball, Chuck Barris, Michael S. Bell, Ursula & Rene Block, Pamela Calvert, Sue-Ellen Case, Dirk Dirksen, E.E. Feder, Jaap Flier & Aat Hooghe, Simone Forti, Jim Fouratt, Doro Franck, Roberta & the Friedman family, Danielle Hayes, Naut Humon, Rico Joves, Carl Loeffler, Rod Pierce, all the P. Orridges, Aeryn Richmond, Remko Scha, Merle Steir, Barbara Steveni, Steve Tupper, Van Lagestein, Faryl Weisser, Laverne Weisser, Emmett Williams, Rav J. Winston
And to: Dave Boyd, Neville Brody, Michael Harding, Andrew McKenzie, Esther Wollheim.
Original Booklet Design: Simon Staines
Editor: Jon Wozencroft
Web Page Set Up and Management: MSCHarding
INTRO: ENERGY SPECTRUM [Jon Wozencroft]
Scientists have offered the illustration of a rapidly moving wheel, top or cylinder to show the effects of increasing rates of vibration. The illustration supposes a wheel, top or cylinder running at a low rate of speed - we will call this revolving thing 'the object in following out the illustration'. Let us suppose the object moving slowly. It may be readily seen, but no sound of its
movement reaches the ear. The speed is gradually increased. In a few moments, its movement becomes so rapid that a deep growl or low note may be heard. Then, as the rate is increased, the note rises one on the musical scale. Then, the motion being still further increased, the next highest note is distinguished.
Then, one after another, all the notes on the musical scale appear, rising higher and higher as the motion is increased. Finally, when the motions have reached a certain rate, the final note perceptible to the human ear is reached and as a result the shrill piercing shriek dies away. Silence follows. No sound is heard from the revolving object, the rate of motion being so high that the human ear cannot register the vibrations. Here comes the perception of rising degrees of heat. Then, after quite a time, the eye catches a glimpse of the object becoming a dull dark reddish colour. As the rate increases, the red becomes brighter. The red melts into orange. The orange becomes yellow. Then following, successively, the shades of green, blue, indigo and finally violet, as the speed continues to increase. Then the violet shades away and all colour disappears, the human eye being unable to register them. There are invisible rays emanating from the revolving object, the rays that are used in photography,
and other subtle rays of light. In no time, the peculiar rays known as X-rays, etc., begin to manifest themselves, as the constitution of the object changes.
Electricity and magnetism are emitted once the appropriate rate of vibration is attained.
A SHORT HISTORY
I began playing drums when 4 years old, making drum-sets at 5 or 6 and first studied drums when I was 8. My first professional show was at 12. At 13, I began to write poetry and to explore the plastic arts. These three contexts continued to develop, and in 1968 I attended California Institute of the Arts, studying ethnomusicology - in particular, African, Balinese and East Indian musics. There I came into contact with many of the Fluxus artists (most notably Emmett Williams), left ethnomusicology and started to work seriously with 'concrete' and 'performance' poetry. At that time, I'd decided to stop
pursuing music as a career so that I could concentrate on poetry. During the years 1969 to 75, I considered myself exclusively as an audio/visual poet. This culminated with my inclusion in the 'Second Generation' show at The Museum of Conceptual Art in San Francisco. It was around this time that I began to play music again with the group Cellar-M. In 1979, I moved from San Francisco to New York City, working with Glenn Branca (on Symphony #2 ), Simone Forti (on Spring ), guitarist Rudolf Grey, and Tim Wright (founder of Pere Ubu), amongst others.
In 1980, I toured Europe for the first time, and in 1985, became a resident of Amsterdam.
INTERVIEW AMSTERDAM AND LONDON
[The following is taken from a conversation between Andrew McKenzie and Z'EV, in Amsterdam on 10th January 1988 having completed the tape edit, and between Jon Wozencroft and Z'EV, by post in September that year.]
Talk to me.
To begin with, between 1969-75, I was mainly composing for 4-6 piece voice ensembles. Then in 1976 I got hold of some old tape recorders and started working primarily with my voice. I also began to incorporate tapes from earlier performances, initiating a process whereby each performance contained elements of those preceding: 'process' has always been one of my overriding concerns. In 1974, I had been asked to join Cellar-M, which encouraged me to develop the range of instruments upon which my latter work was based. Anyway, in 1976 Cellar-M split into 2 duets - one was 'TO', the other would later emerge on Ralph Records as Rhythm & Noise. With the birth of 'TO', Will and I were dedicated to the presentation of a 'pure' form which we continued to explore for the next one and a half years. This gave me the chance to focus upon the development of 'instrumental' design and performance. In April 1977 we had the opportunity to go to Japan and perform for 2 days at an anti-whaling festival at the International Trade Center in Tokyo, sponsored by the Dolphin Project. We must have played somewhere between twelve and eighteen hours over the 2 days. We were worse than The Grateful Dead!
Like Noel Coward used to say, "always leave them wanting less".
So, 'TO' disbanded in July 1977, though we had a performance set for August which I did solo. I titled that show "Sound of Wind and Limb", and surprisingly I enjoyed the experience: performing solo had been a very alien notion to me up to that point: since I was a teenager I had never liked drum solos. The next S. Weisser performance was also contextualised as "Sound of Wind and Limb", and that same month I presented a work at the West Coast International Sound Poetry Festival in San Francisco. At this point I was looking for movement artists to collaborate with, but none turned up, (though since 1986 I have been working with several, most notably Movement Pioneer Simone Forti in the US and Europe, and also with a younger dancer, Salome Schneebeli from Switzerland). Eventually, in late 77, I began to fine tune the approach that was to allow for true solo work.
Up till then I had a more traditional arrangement of instruments (see photo). I had stopped being interested in music per se, and began concentrating on the generation of acoustic phenomenae, switching from a fixed instrument approach to one where the individual instruments were formed into assemblages. Many timbres
could be sounded at once, creating a density of expression and experience. I was still using the name S. Weisser, but the seeds of the persona piece which I embarked on in 1980 were already apparent; for example, at the only Cellar-M performance that I participated in (May 75 at Mills College), I was listed in
the programme as "HOLE/E: CONCUSSION". This predilection for 'naming' and specifying production was an aspect of S.Weisser's orientation as a conceptual artist - the art-historical niche I had settled into.
So you dug your grave and now you were lying in it.
Yes, but that only relates on one level to the title of this collection. I'm now at the end of one cycle of work and at the beginning of another, where I no longer primarily identify myself as Z'EV the sonic artist, but Z'EV the artist who happens to do some sonic work, some language work, some visual work, and
work with others.
Many people have their life and then their work - you seemed to effect a deliberate splitting of personality.
I did that to a certain point, though I ran into trouble. I could only split so far before a really central objective space became impossible. I think I went past that. For a long time, the project ran rogue you might say.
Do you feel that it was successful in spite of that?
Definitely. I feel that nobody has ever simultaneously done work as strong and as separate as the Z'EV and the uns work. For me it came out of the occult situation; it was about evocation.
This is the ~frame~?
Yes, and from there you would invoke creative energies, not from this central point which holds these various potentials, but from one very specific sensibility.
So this then relates to Yoel?
Yes and no. Yoel relates more to my performances in clubs rather than in galleries, although I continued to present the same information regardless of the context. The punk movement was happening. It had its own circuit and its own media. It was a way of getting exposure, but this also goes back to the generation thing. As a 'Second Generation' artist I literally had to wait for people to die before I got any real exposure. So there I was, an artist looking forward to 20-30 years of studio work, piling it up, and I rejected that. In the 70s, 45 was a young artist, whereas in the 80s, a young artist was 11!I was doing 'performance art', and since music is still the most democratic art form in terms of age discrimination, I began to perform at the Mabuhay Gardens in San Francisco (note: my failure to adjust my 'image' during 78 drastically reduced the commercial impact I had at this time - see photo). And this is where Yoel, and then Z'EV come in. If you perform in an art gallery, people ask your name, but if you choose to perform in a club, people want to know the name of your band, an abstraction. Yoel is a variation of one of my middle names, but I finally settled on Z'EV having remembered that when I was 7, I had wanted to change my name to Z'EV - but who listens to a 7 year old who wants to change their name? Even so, my mother always called me Stef, and never Stefan.
When it first came about, did you see the Z'EV persona as being your principal preoccupation?
No, not really, other than it was the perfect means of naming this thing I was doing, and to still identify with it, eventually I adopted Z'EV as my personal name, but not necessarily my persona.
Did you already have a good collection of instruments?
Yes, mostly based on what had come from 'TO'. I was living in Oakland - home of the Hell's Angels, Black Panthers, and Z'EV - and on my way home from work I would pass this scrap yard, where for a time there was lots and lots of stainless steel. A timely gift. I would drag this material to my studio and make assemblages. I had become a sound sculptor, but was presenting my work in open performance and not in exhibition spaces. I was and still am very aware of this point - the information should be in the public domain and not just in an 'art' context. I did not choose to play in clubs simply to 'make a name' or to kill time whilst I was still a 'young artist'. For example, the 'spatial poetics' piece in Nov. 77 was broadcast outdoors at a major intersection: it did not happen inside the physical context of the festival. Anyway, there I was, sound sculpting at the Mabuhay Gardens on Broadway and (diagonally down and across the street) working for the Society for the Preservation of Occult Consciousness, living in Oakland and very satisfied. All of this I left behind, because the assemblages (I call them instruments) were stacking up in a corner and bitching at me!
When you mentioned the occult connection, you also hinted at the relationship with Mercury, stealing things, and being the messenger...
Yes, it was that, to honor Mercury in all its manifestations and to identify with mercurial energy in all its forms, thereby personifying that energy. There was also a strong identification with Saturn, Saturn being the sphere of knowledge, of (all) material possibility, as well as of time.
That to me reflects this level concerning communication, where you allow yourself to become this 'transistor radio', trying to become a vehicle for information to pass through.
Yes, my work has always been involved with that. The material from Nick Fault's is the peak of that. All the instruments were consecrated, and many were never used in public performance.
When did Z'EV come to the fore, then?
Well, in 1978 the instruments were sitting there, giving me a terrible time, and I said OK, I'll make a deal with you - you have 3 years and if in 3 years you're not supporting me, then you have no say. So a variety of things happened: moving to L.A., working on 'image', first time in N.Y.C., first time in the U.K., Europe etc. The 3 years culminated in my being onstage at the Lyceum with Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, Clock DVA and Non in 1981; strangely enough, it was also my 30th birthday.But I think that turned out to be more of a negative thing, your being seen only within the framework of the Industrial scene.Rock video came in and completely changed the whole ball game. But as far as the industrial thing is concerned, I think that would have happened anyway. Even if I had never left Oakland I would have ended up in the Re-Search 'Industrial Culture Handbook', and that's where most people know me from anyway. I don't know where I fit. There was a time when things started getting hot during 80/81 in New York. With Glenn Branca, everyone, there was this notion that there would be a turnover, that we would come up and no-one would care about Philip Glass anymore. In fact, Philip Glass just got bigger and bigger, and the attention passed away. We were back to where we had started. To add insult to injury, New York stopped being a place where young composers could present their work (though now this may now be changing).
Do you think it's because people like things to be easy?
There are many reasons. In some senses, it's a very reactionary time and people are scared by the thought of imminent change, or it was a scenario similar to the way that the whole hippy movement was handled - by the threat being absorbed into the system. In four years, a huge public movement dissolved into total inactivity. It was like they put something in the water, popped the balloon. In the States less and less people vote now, you have the whole yuppie thing, join the professionals, and it's like the fifties - people are striving to conform. It's like this all over the world, though. The audience has gone because if you haven't seen it on TV then it can't be real. It used to be that if you hadn't seen it in the NME, then forget it. These days, you have people who think the M in MTV stands for Music. I think this will change. On the one hand, the whole computer trend is empowering people in a different way - people are in a phase of getting plugged-in, and have not been looking for outside stimulation. On the other, the whole 60s to 80s mythos regarding the "breaking down" of "the word" to "reveal" some higher truth will fragment to an even greater extent in the 1990s, as everyone attempts to re-establish "the word" to convey constructive statements - ie., a switch from abstract forms to concrete content. What will actually happen remains to be seen; to a large extent, it's about developing communication (in itself, a buzzword) that cannot instantly be cast into an advertising/media mould.
Taking Z'EV on the road must have been a major push for you, seeing as you had not done that before.
Yes, but it was more the instruments. They were 'in control', if you will; nevertheless, when I came back from the first N.Y.C. trip in 80, I immediately developed uns and got it going very fast. The first S.F. show was released on video by Target and on LP by Subterranean. Z'EV was on Fetish and the first release with them was a video - 'Shake Rattle & Roll' - which should have been a hit but nobody had machines in 1981. Anyway, uns was visible from the very beginning, even before the New Yorker article which 'broke' Z'EV, and with uns the whole nature of the persona project then came into focus. There was no longer a simple either/or name dichotomy, there was now very much a both/and. On the one hand performing Z'EV, and on the other being the vocalist (and basic programme provider) for the 'band' uns, which was created as a demonstration of animism applied to the electro-magnetic realm - uns was never my name (first, it's sun upside down, and also German for 'us'). But this got too complicated for the Rock medium. People knew I was doing 'something' with names so they assumed uns was my name. This immediately made me so bizarre, because uns is such a ridiculous name. But the personalities were so radically opposed, like day and night. They were invoking totally different energies, so another name was needed; by the time I'd called the "vocalist" Sha'ul Z'EV, most people thought the concept had become too weird. Another thing - people rarely asked for uns performances because apart from the 'personality' problems, it was just too 'pre-', pre-sampling and pre-scratch. After the adrenalin of the punk years, most people wanted to listen to drone and feel miserable, and you can't blame them. In retrospect, I should have continued with the uns practice of skipping record players, etc. - the hip hop thing was just beginning to surface from Brooklyn at the time. This was before 'Planet Rock'.
It was still theirs!
Right, it was still theirs, but if I had have continued with that, there would have been a context for it to be seen in, as opposed to the metal thing, whose influence was strangely disproportionate when you consider that very few groups actually took it up - Test Dept. picked up on the relationship it had to work, and Einst¸rzende Neubauten took the power aspect. There was Die Krupps. 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'. On the Target video you see Brian Eno completely transfixed by a performance that I did; then afterwards he strolls up to me with a girl under each arm and says "c'mon, we're gonna go and have dinner", yadadada, but I never went... Then Prairie Prince was telling a mutual friend about the next session where Eno had Prairie banging on a trash can, David Byrne playing ukelele real high to get the frequencies in there, and Eno dragging all this stuff into the studio, banging on it. There was a review of Eurythmics, talking about their use of found percussion, but they probably got that from 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts'. Whatever, I'd wanted to get into expanding the range of sounds and there's no question that I succeeded. When IBM released their music composing program, 2 of the pre-set voices were metal.
So let's get the dirt: are you happy with it?
Happy with what? Let's put it this way - you grow up in Los Angeles which is the center of the media industry, Disneyland, Hollywood, the big world that everybody wants to crawl right into, and you decide you want to play music. The music business used to be more like a craft, you would play in somebody's band and then maybe form your own. Then in the sixties the whole star syndrome started. If that's all I ever wanted to aspire to, even as 'late' as the early eighties I had the chance to bite my lip and call time on all the weird stuff. Such conjecture is never that simple; in certain situations I've been my own worst enemy. But I would say that even with the best intentions, I got seduced into the notion that recognition would come, and would give me a certain amount of economic stability. One wants to be supported by what one does.
But that now means paying a certain price.
Okay, there were two things. I had the opportunity to become a premier opening act, but I would be seen as a novelty act, a great show and everything, but I didn't want that so l passed. Then there was the time when I could have said OK, so they want to call it violence, I don't care what they call it as long as they spell my name right, but I would have become party to the rambo/reactionary state of mind and I wasn't interested in that either. So when it came down to whether I was willing to pay the price, I wasn't.
Who is I?
'I' is that central point. Then it wasn't, now it is, and that 'I' is Z'EV. As it stood, the persona piece stopped of its own accord in 1982.
It seems to me that this would have been the peak of the occult involvement?
No no, 1978 was, but it was too difficult to keep the discipline together on the road. It peaked again in 84/85; since then it's remained on a pretty even keel. In the fall of 81 stopped pursuing the music business like I had done in previous years. There were fewer and fewer performances from that point on. From 79 to 83, average one show a week somewhere in the world; this, then, was the major push if ever there was one. 1984 began with performance come installations in various museums. In the spring, I collaborated with Konrad Becker and Eugenia Rochas on an operatic version of 'Parzifal' for the Vienna Festival. Summer was spent with the building and weaving of the large drum sculpture (see photo, and as documented on '50 Gates'). 85 saw concentration on the translation work, a fair disregard for performing Z'EV as such, and the beginning of my collaboration with Gylan Kain, founder of the original Last Poets (see Ratio 3, #2, Temple Press). The sound work began to be presented (for the first time) within the context of sonic meditation. In November I met Cho Kyoo Hyun and collaborated with him on a piece, wind pause -wind, which was performed in Amsterdam in January 86. This was the seed for the directions I took from then on, working more closely with others. October 86 began a relationship with the Theatre School for New Dance Develop-context of sonic meditation. In November I met Cho Kyoo Hyun and collaborated with him on a piece, wind pause -wind, which was performed in Amsterdam in January 86. This was the seed for the directions I took from then on, working more closely with others. October 86 began a relationship with the Theatre School for New Dance Development in Amsterdam, teaching 'composition and improvisation', and an almost continuous collaboration with movement artists. By April 87, I was working once again in the 'rhythm of language' mode. Mother Tongue had begun with Kain, though this time I was collaborating with Andrew McKenzie and Doro Franck. Work in the summer months with the Bow Gamelan Orchestra and La Fura dels Baus reawakened an urge to perform Z'EV. In December there began a new focus on visual work, and the compilation of this presentation.
There were of course many other people in this story. To name but a few, in order of appearance:
Laverne Weisser, Chuck Barris, Dirk Dirksen, Jim Fouratt, Merle Steir, and Pamela Calvert.
THE PROCESSING OF A NON RESIDENT
Your sounds are like arc-welding with noise. Do you make something or just watch the sparks fly?
An artist has to be interested in process: process is creative. You have this thing inside you, and you do whatever it is you have to do to make an image or a model out of what it is you hear inside. Energy is expanded or expelled, in the process of making a model of the sonic universe.
Sonic universe... That sounds dead clever. Tell us what it looks like.
I can only tell you of the sounds I work with. There is a certain quality to these sounds. They are strong in every frequency. There is a tremendous amount of information all the way up and down the spectrum.
Most music has particular holes. One instrument will take up a certain amount of space, sometimes instruments will coincide, but most of the time there are many holes in any given presentation - unless you're broadcasting white noise very loud, and then you would have to use a range of octaves to get a lot of bass stuff happening.
Either you're working with your head or you're just pissing about, experimenting or something...
It's more research than experiment. It is charting particular regions and creating models. To experiment is to ascribe value. With charting you come up with a system that allows you to bring it about, so that at a certain point it can be experienced.
No kidding. But which is the map and which the territory?
Process is a way of creating a territory. The charting of which would be a step outside, removed from what I'm doing. The audience might be involved with the charting. I create the territory. But at the same time, we are creating a system. The control that I exercise is the initiation of a process which then continues. My interference is a minor part of that process. I have no idea what is going to occur.
So where do you get off? There has to be fascination.
I do it because that's what I do. I have tried doing other things, but that's what I always end up doing.
So you're just interested?
I present new information. Implicit in that - new ways to process information. That is a social function. Creating options. Apart from what some people call noise pollution, I don't think electric music can affect the environment. There might conceivably be an acoustic instrument that I can create rain with, but it could not be done electrically.
No matter what, certain frequencies such as infrasound and ultrasound have very predictable effects. Manufacturing industries and medical science use such things all the time.
When the Allies overran Germany at the end of WW2, amongst the information they searched for most eagerly was that on Ultraschall' (ultrasound). In the early 50s, scientists began to believe that ultrasonics was on the point of solving a good many, if not all, of Man's technological problems. High frequency sound is now used for example to drill square holes in glass, to examine unborn babies, to perform delicate brain surgery, and to make ketchup; much of the 50s hysteria, however, has been dispelled by hard experimental facts. And the "negative" features of ultrasound - its ability to cause mutations in DNA molecules, for one - have been more vigorously developed by the military. You see, the effects of high and low frequency sound on the body are only predictable in the sense that it's easier to cause damage than it is to heal.
There are positive applications. But I'm talking about interfacing with the whole environment, which has to do with the dance. You can't do the dance with electric music. Music was/is used in pre-technical cultures to effect changes in the environment; electric music can only invade its immediate environment.
Dance or no dance (indeed, what dance?), here in the West, everywhere is an immediate electric environment. There is no escaping this localized interference.
Your music is weird, not like music at all. You make bunches of frequencies so that you can hide some that are going to do things to people. Just like slipping them a mickey. You are a witch. Your music, with its non-linear progressions which are often painful, is a crucible in which you are trying to create higher energy. You're trying to traverse the energy spectrum, trying to create light.
Again, the physical element that is present in acoustic music is not present in electric. If you are trying to create light, you are not going to do it plucking on a Fender. With forms of dance, you could bring that element out. Of course acoustic and electric sound are both natural in the sense that everything that "is" is natural. But their energies are contradictory. They are on opposite ends of a pole. Acoustic music comes from the body and space. Electric music comes from flicking a switch and plugging in cords. Mechanical energy. Think about it.
If polar, there must be a balancing point.
The mode of creation is polar. What comes out is not polar.With acoustic instruments, the sound is in the person.With synthesizers, all you have to do is find a sound you like, the choosing is an intellectual one, and then you push the keys. The music is in the instrument.
Got you. But your distinction is false. The difference between acoustic and electric music does exist, but the same can be said about two players of electric guitars - the difference is between playing music using a guitar, and playing music with a guitar, which would be the equivalent of a computer print-out of the Mona Lisa.
It still stands that electric music happens inside a space, fills it up, pushes everything out, overpowers. With acoustic music, the air and the space take on music.
A Zen master will promote confusion in a pupil with a koan - a verbal puzzle of the order of 'what is the sound of one hand clapping?'. When the pupil reaches such a state of earnest confusion that he/she nears resolution, the master, with a kick or a slap (there's energy transfer for you!), provides the momentum that turns an explosion of chaotic ideas into an implosion of clarity. This is an analogy for your music.
Expansion and contraction, that is the basis for all life. It is rhythm. The old in-out. The only story I can give is that people, who come having seen my performance X amount of times, tell me they can really hear the music in it. So on that level it has given some people the ability to organize sound for themselves.
Is music subjectivised noise? And is noise...
I myself make no distinction. They both come under the heading of sound. Music is sound you like, and noise is sound you don't like. It is subjective. Liking, to a degree, is akin to elitism. I might not always go along with this, but there is a connection between liking and understanding. A sound that is not understood may function as noise. When it is understood, it can then function as music. The more one understands sound, the more one can turn it to one side or the other. Experience is the basis for understanding.
I get it. You're running a commando school for dealing with a noise environment that's driving all of us round the bend.
Not commando. Somebody once approached me having seen me play three times. He worked in a factory and suffered headaches all the time. He had seen me last on a Sunday, and had gone into work the next day. Something clicked and he started to listen to the factory as music - as Muzak - and assigned x value to x sound, y value to y sound, and listened to the interaction between them. He was no longer assaulted by his environment.
The first time people hear what I do, it seems loud and abrasive, very metallic. "It sounds like" a factory, an auto crash, which to me are ridiculous associations. I'm glad that I don't have that system of thought that makes people take something and give it a name, a specific name to something they already know.
To me it is music. A music. I also want to show that sound has this quality of shape, and to make available such information, without necessarily pointing it out.
Pointing out implies that you must ascribe a value X; whilst making something available doesn't tamper with it in that way.Categorizing is a sin.
But you're coming off as some mad housekeeper running around putting things in order, only you're the only one who knows where everything goes.
Ordering of sound takes place to a certain degree in the construction of the instrument. But when I deal with acoustic instruments, I have no control over how they sound. That's determined by the space they're in at any given performance. The physical pattern of their manipulation becomes in one dimension their rhythmic pattern, then there is chord structure, scale and melody etc. The interaction between the instrument and the space is the main manipulator of the sound. Another thing: you can't control where people stand. It sounds totally different according to your place in the audience.
Instead of music, why aren't you doing something useful like industrial or medical research into sound?
I first put instruments together when I was four years old. There was no "choice". The choice came when I decided not to do it because it meant dealing with the music business, which is the entertainment business. Unfortunately (or not), once the distribution of my music is beyond my immediate control, it is not me who decides "is it useful?".
Give us your job description.
On one level, phenomenologist, on another, entertainer. I don't consider what I do "entertainment", but that's the form. Playing is all about throwing off the rational, intellectual, civilised, cultural self, but an audience turns playing into work, and performing is a job. I'm not going to fight that aspect. That is something that I had to do at one stage, to get used to the times people would say "that's a great act". When I replied "but I'm not acting", that used to cause me no end of aggravation.
Tribal society will use sound in initiations. A prelude to a more real world, where everything has its own resonant frequency. Do you resonate with your music, or does the music resonate you?
What's the difference? I relate more on an energy level than on a sound level.
To give an explanation is impossible in English. A symbolic language is needed, a hieroglyphic language such as Babylonian.Or mathematics, relative or quantum physics. The only way you can represent energy is with a symbol.
What's the big deal with hieroglyphics? You mentioned another world besides a logical and mechanical world, a world in which nothing is just another cog. Everything is an analogy of opposites, and the symbols of that real world exist in a purer form than the symbols of this world. They transcend illusions of substance, and do not substantiate the stuff of the universe. Without a set of symbols, dreams would just be dreams.
Yes. The real world is a vibrational world, and, up to 2,000 years ago, everybody knew that. I have a 13th Century sex manual, not about masturbating in someone's vagina, but about union. It talks about the female orgasm, which for Western society had just become a big issue.
And they used to think the world was round. Then they thought it was flat, so that stupid old Western man could then come along and discover it was round again.
You should check out the history of the Troubadours, and their connection with tantric sexual yoga. The relationship between a true Troubadour and the object of his love was more than that of mere patroness and poet. The special name given to this relationship was 'donnoi'. A careful examination of their love songs will soon make clear the exact nature of the relationship as denoted by that word.
Some speak of a certain manner of gazing at the beloved so as to awaken slumbering forces in the lover. Others describe how they undressed their lady, gazed rapturously at her naked body, made passes over it, and spent hours at a time with her nude form pressed close to their own. But in no instance is there a reference to any kind of intercourse or orgasm in the conventional sense. On the contrary, the Troubadours declared that "he knows nothing of 'donnoi' who wants to possess his lady carnally".
It's all about the inter-connectedness of all things.
[Source: Vacation magazine, Spring 1981. Interview by Dorothy Gammes of Bootle.
Reference: 'Tantra, The Yoga Of Sex' by Omar Garrison, and 'Sound, Its Uses and Abuses in Today's Technology' by Graham Chedd. Re-edited by Jon Wozencroft, Winter 1990.]
OF ACCESS TO A REALITIVISTIC AWARENESS
Acoustically generated sounds react and charge the actual air molecules in an environment. My intention is to delve into the space between the air[its ambience and atmosphere] and the instrument. To become so familiar with that space that it can be drawn out and widened, so that one can create in that space.
Of instruments on the one hand - sound on the other - the externalisation of the nervous system between them.
Of having both hands - hence both sides of the brain - in a synchronous resonation.
Of the movement of the hemispheres fusing within the resonation of movement.
Of physically compensating the balance of two varying frequencies and vibrations - one in each hand - within the context of playing on one's feet.
Of the movement or series of movements needed to evolve a sound from an instrument.
Of the description and definition of motion.
As sound is motion perceived, to develop then a vocabulary of sounds which do just that; describe and define motion and translate/communicate that information to convey an awareness of mass, gravity and light.
Of an awareness not only of sound in space, and sound through space, but sound AS space as well.
Of listening to sound with the intention to observe its motion with the whole body.
Of feeling with the whole body.
Of being aware that sound is air moving
Of air constantly moving against/across/through acoustic instruments, some sound
is always being produced, traveling with the earth's rotation.
[Oakland 1976 / 1977 & Berkshires 2000]
ANALOG ACOUSTIC ASSEMBLAGE
"The sound of the thunder that accompanies the movement of reawakening life is the prototype of music" [I Ching Hexagram 16: YÐ/Enthusiasm]
The basis for this work: a continual search/presentation of/for new information.
When dealing with instrumental and acoustic phenomenae, the links to [the] phenomenological world[s] become the primal facet of the consciousness inherent in realising the design, preparation and presentation of the performance experience. What develops is the continual mating of the micro- and macrocosms, and a total reliance upon the intuitional abilities within the matrix of "Other Traditions"; that is the varieties of universal occult ritual and practice.
Composition is based on the externalization of the nervous system; as sounds manifest, a feedback loop develops from the acoustic information to the nervous system ad infinitum. Notational 'time' becomes Durational Time. Permutations of physical activities are trans- and juxta-posed across/through permutations of instrumental configurations. This constitutes the Performance Structure.
A muscular technique of controlled filibration is developed which is combined with the wrist/finger fulcrum technique extant in traditional percussion. As such, physical exercise replaces instrumental 'practice'.
What this produces which electronics [per se] seems to lack is"
TOWARDS A DIALOGUE IN COMPOSITION
There exists among contemporary classical music composers an attitude that their audience must share with them a similar sophistication of thought (equal education) and a knowledge of the advances or 'continuations' of their work to properly appreciate its performance.
This is formalised in a mode of presentation where by the composer presents work in the form of a monologue: performing at, or to - seldom with.
Consider, in dialectical response, situations where the
composer/performer/space/time/audience collaborate in a real-time dialogue.
A mutual creational experience where each participant is
listening/hearing/structuring/organising a distinct composition drawn from their relation to the 'sound in reflection' and the matrix of their cultural and cognitive associations.
In these situations the composer controls only the choice of specific information (source material) and methods of (its) presentation (contextualisation).
There is no 'one and only' intended composition.
The composer instead creates the opportunity/potential in this/by this process/experience for an 'empowering' of the audience, such that the audience becomes aware of the extent to which they themselves are the formers of their experience.
This empowering can then radically alter their relationship to their environment in general, long after they have left this specific situation.
It is the imparting of not only an isolated aesthetic experience, but the basis for an ongoing relationship to the sound environment of everyday life. The ability to transcend a 'passive' acceptance of urban/suburban noise/sound and replace it with an 'active' ability to organise/experience/appreciate it as such - into an orchestral/symphonic continuum.
Eindhoven, December 1981
My work is a wedding of private art and craft and public performance, with materials and objects of my own choice, design, and formation. The exploration and exposition of the sonic universe is the unifying concern.
GENESIS: and the fire of the elohiem vibrated through her waters, and the elohiem spoke: speaking light, and the light returned.
I CHING: it fell to music to build a bridge between the worlds of the seen and the unseen.
Sound is the presence (pressure) of energy vibrating through space, generally between 20 and 15,000 times per second, but at a constant 760 mph.
We form sound by transferring energy to some mass/material, which in turn transforms and propagates that energy into space. The form of this propagation is spherical. There are not sound waves as such, but (spherical) pressure zones.
Territories with specific qualities distinguished by their density (amplitude) and rhythm (frequency). These zones propagate by a process of vibration. That is, the gas molecules (air) which the pressure zone vibrates adopt its density and rhythm. The atmosphere within the sound barrier is a meta-pressure zone composed of the infinite varieties of these energies. Even more metaphorically:
pressure zones are currents in the sea of sound within the shores of the sound barrier. Our sound barrier is formed by energies vibrating faster than 760 mph.
How the qualities of energies of this velocity and vibration rate are heard entails a 3 stage process. First, by a mechanical process in the middle ear when the exterior energy (pressure zone) vibrates, successively, the ear-drum, hammer, anvil and stirrup: transferring a reproportioned energy to the inner ear. This begins a hydro-electric process. The fluids of the cochlea vibrate, which in turn vibrate/fire the neurons along the basilar and tectorial membranes of the cochlea. As neural impulse in the voltage of the central nervous system, the exterior energy has been transformed back into the realm of electricity (physical light).
The first place that these neural impulses go is to the memory, where they are distinguished, say, from the taste in your mouth right now, and from there to the cognitive center of awareness.
All sensory impulse first arrives at memory.
You (p)re:cognise all stimuli (from Jung's collective unconscious, for example) regardless of your linguistic ability to name it, which is based on this life's associative memory.
THE FLOWING OF PURE MOVEMENT IS MEMORY - THE REPRODUCTION OF AN IMAGE OF AN ACTION IN ANOTHER PHASE OF MANIFEST-ATION, AND CONSCIOUSNESS IS BUILT OUT OF MEMORY, AS DISTINGUISHED FROM AWARENESS, WHICH IS A FORM OF REACTION BETWEEN TWO PLANES (emphasis mine).
Action and reaction do not constitute consciousness. It is reaction plus memory which is the basis of consciousness; and the currents in space of pure movement are the basis of memory because, being frictionless because they are substanceless, they persist.
Meanwhile, back in the material world: Brass, the metal most commonly used in the construction of instruments, is smelted by simple means and easily formed by hand. It also propagates the simpler zones upon which traditional musics have been based. Modern metals, due to their elemental properties and methods of formation, will actually multiply the energy transferred to them. This increases their capacity for transformation, and accounts for the sheer number of individual rhythms composing the pressure zones they propagate. Note: for thousands of years, the Tibetans have succeeded in forming alloys as refined as modern technology's by directing their consciousness into the simple smelting process. Percussion is the obvious choice for harnessing this sonic potential, and translating this potential into a musical system based on these complex zones.
However: most percussive sensibilities conform to the model of awareness previously mentioned; "A FORM OF REACTION BETWEEN TWO PLANES", in their basic physical function: one beat, one sound. Throughout the world, various traditional collections of beat patterns exist. Their basic genres are: ritual, communicative, social and martial, with variations in each genre. These four forms engender reactions between the planes appropriate for their functions, in varying degrees and each from different perspectives. This dynamic can be used as a beginning, and not merely as an end in itself.
As motion is always the basis for the production, propagation and perception of sound, the inclusion of kinetic energy in the sources forming the sounds closes a circle, when memory equals pure movement, thus maximizing these 3 levels.
Production Propagation and Perception.
Mechanics Hydraulics and Electricity.
Both sets can function as metaphors for the 3 inter-revolving rings of the cosmos' formation.
Winter/Spring 1983, NYC
[These notes are dedicated to my teachers, both in- and disincarnate, especially Dr. D.M.L. Franck Oberaspach. Discussions regarding these notes with P. Calvert, P. Van Ryper, and T. Wright are gratefully acknowledged. The CAPITALS are quotes from "Cosmic Doctrine" by Dion Fortune. The translation from Genesis is an excerpt from "Partners in Sacrifice", a work-in-progress by Z'EV.]
Drums, flat bells, with these sounds one calls them, inviting the gods of knowledge down from the celestial spheres' - from "The 9 Ways of Bon"
And the fiery spirit of the Elohiem vibrated over and through her water and the Elohiem spoke, speaking light;and the light returned.
Genesis 1 v.2, 3, translated by Z'EV
- The fiery spirit of the Elohiem is light
- Light manifests in our nervous system as electricity
- Vibration is self-reflection: the will to act in action
- The waters symbolize life, the life-waters within us, our blood, as red as fire
- The waters are also symbolic of memory, in our brain: where electricity vibrates as synapse (of thought or feeling). These electric vibrations (sensory awareness) can form a way of return to the light (consciousness). The way of 'the conciliation of opposites' can begin deep within ourselves, in our memories, and in our lives: the union of fire and water: they steam; as vapor, like our souls.
"What is the sound of one hand clapping"
This classical koan/paradox is meant to place one at the limits of reason. If one crosses over, and returns, could one possible response be: imagining the thumb as a head, the 2 middle fingers as legs, and the 2 outer fingers as arms; the pentagram of the human/primate form is mirrored in this 'one hand'. The naturalness and integration of the hand in any action can be seen as 'the sound' of 'the one hand'; a being, 'clapping'; living. Z'EV has developed a discipline of instrumental/compositional techniques based on this possible response, aware at the same time that a response is not in question (but by way of explanation: the response was experienced, not deducted).
For the past 11 years, I have been developing percussion instruments and techniques specialized for the production of acoustic phenomena. That is, the complex of interactions resulting from sonic energies and the physical locations they occur in. I would metaphorically refer to these 'results' as the "feelings" arising between sound and space. I use 'feeling' because, as they belong to the intuitive realm, this refers to their qualitative effect on the listener. The majority of acoustic phenomena are based on resonance: the intensification and enriching of tones by 'supplementary vibrations'. These 'supplementary vibrations' are produced by the aforementioned interactions between sound and space. Dealing with mysticism, one is involved with non-material realms of experience/consciousness. A relationship with these realms is made manifest through intuition. This led me to develop a music based not, exclusively, on the usual devices of pitch and rhythm, but on expressly acoustic phenomena. This seemed the optimal manner to address the intuition of the listener.
In many African languages the word for 'drum' signifies both the physical instrument and various forms of communication, including telepathy. It is not coincidental that the drum is the only instrument which has a direct physical counterpart within our bodies. Our ear canal, ending with the tympanic membrane (ear-drum), is the 'archetype' of drums, of which all physical drums are copies.
In Vou-Dun, the religion of the 7 African powers, it is the drum patterns themselves which call the powers forth. This also still exists in the indigenous cultures of Sri Lanka. This is in contrast to cultures where solely the voice, through prayer/supplication, is used for invocations. Through this use of rhythm, a specific 'ordering of vibration', the participants' awareness is focused and conditioned by the rhythmic pulsations of the synapses triggered by their eardrums. Through this process the awareness of the participants is harmonized with the (higher) consciousness of the specific powers invoked.
I do not use drums, but metallic instruments whose extremely rich harmonic potentials produce an abundance of acoustic phenomena. However, these same aforementioned dynamics can apply with the focused/concentrated reception of the phenomena aiding in the transmutation of awareness into intuition.
Consider the role that memory plays in these dynamics. The first place all sensory information/stimuli 'goes' is to the memory, where they are distinguished, and from there sent to their specific centers. We recognize all stimuli, regardless of our semantic ability to name it, which is based totally on this life-time's 'associative' memory. This indicates the deeper levels of memory available to us. When one is 'listening' to acoustic phenomena then one is, in fact, remembering these phenomena. This process puts us in touch with levels and realms, co-existent, but removed from 'material' phenomena. When these memories form the basis for visualizations, the results can be quite dramatic and highly rewarding.
Intention is the key. Intention is what distinguishes the willful act from both the thoughtless and the thoughtful act. When it is one's intention to utilize sonic experience to extend beyond awareness and approach the higher realms of consciousness - intuition and inspiration - it can be achieved.
With thanks to Dorothea Franck for her comments; Amsterdam, 1986.
[Conversation between Jon Wozencroft and Z'EV, 5 Sept l988, London]
Why did you start doing translation work? What is the connection, if any, between this and the work you were doing as Z'EV or uns?
It had to do with the "central point" from which all the work originates. I had started writing in 1963, and in 1973 I began doing a lot of things with 'transmutation' and 'permutation', very formal systems applied to language;
transmutation: ABC/DEF, A=D, B=E, C=F; permutation: ABC, ACB, BCA, BAC, CAB, CBA.
These are meaningful in the context of a hieroglyphic language, but I was using the Roman alphabet and while it was intriguing to me, it had no apparent meaning to anyone else. Nevertheless, I sensed that something was there. I was also writing out of dictionaries: I had a self-pronouncing dictionary that I was
given when I graduated from Elementary school, and at some point I chose that to be my work and experience pool, developing formal systems to access that information - writing poems from it. I would come up with a phrase or word such as "book token"; I would then pick a word beginning with the letters b-o-o-k-t-o-k-e-n, and generate sentences. Then I'd edit them, working up various versions of the generated sentences. That work slowly developed into the "contexts" - context is defined as the weaving together of language, so I took this literally, cutting up the text and weaving visual works. This was the jump from the "Burroughsian" to a "Gysinian" process (so to speak): the desire to get the materials of communication to reveal their hidden truths, a popular concern at that time. There were a few shows of these visual works, but soon music would take up most of my time.
6 years passed, and I got involved with qabalistic studies - so I began to deal with a hieroglyphic alphabet rather than a symbolic one, and all of a sudden I discovered that trans- mutation and permutation are ancient systems of meditation and of mind concentration - a discipline but also an exegesis with
which to call meanings from the hieroglyphs. I could jump immediately into it. It was as if I'd already done the homework. I had already developed the mental muscles, so you could say that this was a giant coincidence, though obviously not a coincidence. Once again I was writing with dictionaries, looking up the
meanings that came from the permutations and transmutations. However, the story of how I came to write again in 1985 is extremely occult, meaning obscured and veiled. I don't think it's necessary to get into all the nitty gritty - suffice to say that at the end of 1984 in San Francisco, I began to do translations of
liturgical texts - initially Tibetan texts, where I would start with the transliteration of the Sanskrit (how it's pronounced); I would take this, and because the Babylonian/Hebrew characters from the Old Testament are phonetic, I would then trans- literate the Sanskrit into the biblical scripture. When I did this, it always matched - when checked against the English.
What dictionaries were you using in this process?
A dictionary called The Sepher Malim, the life-work of someone called Mordicai Jastro who lived in Philadelphia at the end of the 1800s. He worked for 50 years on it. It's a dictionary that's half Aramaic and half biblical Hebrew, with a large cross section of Greek transliterations. It's not so much a dictionary of the bible, but of the oral literatures and commentaries on biblical texts. The rabbis used to sit around and discuss what such and such a verse meant, and there would be various schools of interpretation. It wasn't until the Christian/Roman axis came along that there were fixed meanings ascribed to the Old Testament, when they translated it into Greek. Actually, it was the Jewish community in Greece that did this, but they were the community that most of the Christians came out of: Paul's letter to the Thessalonians etc. The point is, there are two inter-locking systems - a consonantal system and a vowel system;
so say you have three consonants, F K and T, there are 9 vowel 'points', so they could be pronounced 'fukata', 'fikoti', 'feketi' etc., each giving different qualities of meaning. Now, the biblical texts were set, but the Hebrew scrolls that documented them don't include vowel points. These were memorised. So various schools then arose - Jesus had his school, and would interpret the bible by giving the words to a particular phrase different pronunciations, changing the meaning by doing so. The same text could become something completely different. The rabbis used to sit around and talk about the various interpretations and decide which ones were canonical and which ones were heretical. These conversations became what is known as oral literature (Mishna,
Talmud, etc). There's a whole written literature of the transcriptions of all these conversations that go back to about 100 B.C. up to about 500 A.D. This dictionary that I use refers to that literature and not the biblical literature, which is like a fixed deck. If you use a biblical dictionary, the only sound/word that you're going to get will be the same as what you will find in
the Bible itself. If you use the other dictionary, however, there might be 5, 6, or 7 different versions that come out of one word group. Different pronunciations. So you just figure it out. The number of meanings that can be drawn from one sentence can be pretty large. This has always intrigued me, so for a variety of reasons, in 1985, I decided that I was going to do a translation of The Song of Songs. The first one I did I wasn't really thrilled
with, but by the second one I was really into it and I realized the magic of this system - how complex and subtle it was. The intellects that used to exist back then! People who could not only memorise a vast body of literature, but memorise its different versions. It makes computers puny; and they didn't need printing when they had such incredible memories. In the context of all the other things I'm doing, I'm very interested in memory.
These stories (groups of hieroglyphs) are like repositories of memory, and like a matrix. The combinations of letters literally form a code. They have specific potentials for memory. And when you're translating, it is like you are remembering the story - complete with visuals and the whole thing. It's as if a voice were talking to you, this whole receptor/receiver process, the interlocking disciplines all coalesce. You're listening, "skipping" around, then all of a sudden you pick up this signal that you follow. The thread you pick up weaves a story - you check the dictionary, and lo and behold that word is there, this word is there and that word is there. The letters point themselves before your eyes. To make a demonstration of this, I decided to do 3 translations, all different, but all consistent in their flow. They don't jump context from verse to verse. If you look at the canonical translations, they jump all over the place and include words that are redundant in their definition - they have no
meaning beyond the fact that they appear in The Song of Songs. Like 'the Shulamite' is this "character" - but they have no idea whether it's a person, a place or a thing, animal / vegetable / mineral. They just say 'the Shulamite'. It could be a flower for all they know... "They" being the canonical authorities of the last 400 years. Definitions just reference 'the Shulamite'.
Another thing that complicates the issue is that there are no spacings in very traditional scripturessincethelettersjust allrunintooneanother. Which means you can break them up in any way you want. The only thing that need influence your choice of breaks is whether or not you're getting semantic material out of it or not. It's much like computer hacking - tracing a current, following the flow of this massive amount of information, holding hundreds of combinations before your mind's eye before making a selection. And because you're dealing with these memories, you also start getting into the time travel aspect of it, following this voice as it becomes louder and louder, clearer and closer, until you reach the actual time and see the events taking place. you're there, witnessing the story. It's incredible. So the translations also function as a form of travel. They're stories out of time - no different to a Grimm fairy-tale. They deal with these archetypal images. One of the stories, Verse from out of the Cauldron, tells of the "mythical"/archetypal time when women were developing magic, and how that came about. Songs of the Jackal is basically a book of the dead - it has a lot of similarities to The Egyptian / Tibetan Books of the Dead, witness the jackal, who you follow down into the hall of judgement, and when I reached the end of Songs of the Jackal I found that it didn't actually have an ending - which I couldn't understand, seeing as the translation was going so well; it took me a while to realise that I had to loop it back to the beginning for the last sentence to make sense. A cyclical thing: and every time you re-read it, you go through another bardo, to use a word from the Tibetan. The Scales of Formation is basically a description of the cult of the snake that existed in the Middle East and the fertility ritual that took place under the dark of the moon after the Spring equinox - the night of the snake, very similar to the maypole ritual where everybody would run out into the fields in the dark and freely procreate to spread the gene pool. It's also like a tantric manual for the fertility cult, both the outer and the inner. This story is so dense, describing all the rituals; I could see the mystery school that all the kids would go into, and I saw the dormitories where they stayed, where they ate, and so on.
But what use is this?
Information. It's a bit like being an ethnomusicologist - you go out into the field and you find this music that exists, you document it in the best way possible, and bring it back so that other people can share it; as in Formations where it says "the flowing of pure movement is memory, the reproduction of an image of an action in another phase of manifestation..." So you have these tracks - everyone who ever lived who ever had a story - it's there. It's a conglomerate, a specific point, potentials, these points in space between the so-called prophetic texts (The Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Matthew, etc.) which exist on parallel realities, as if they were radio stations playing the blood music (as Greg Bear extrapolates so well in the book of the same name). They might tell the same news, but with different slants - or even completely different reference points. They're just like centers, nodes where consciousness is made avail-able. You go to the door, you knock, it opens up and you keep walking. You listen, looking for the signal to pick up, then you might have to backtrack. The voices don't come immediately, and again it's like hacking - you have to work. You might be up for a week solid without sleep to get all the way through a story; and at the time, that's no great hardship because time stops. You just follow your senses to the sense which is there to be found.
THE SCALES OF FORMATION [excerpt]
The voice of dreams imagines its silent breath
As an echo to appear to be seen as fires flame
Behold all eyes pinned to the strikes of balance
As still as the glow in the salty waters of:
Venom and doom and destruction
The voice of dreams whispers:
'Lift up the veils of sight'
To those fishing with hooks and
To those fishing with nets
But their sight is excited with passion
Fire light and delight they reflect on
The scales of measure and
The yokes placed side by side and expiring
Lo and behold
The yokes inspire all eyes with the fever-for-forever
Inspiring all hands to uplift their hooks and nets
And veils and finally and tenderly
Yea so tender and finally the
Yokes still the fever flees the light of fire
As the sun of fire lights the sunlight's light
The lover of Lilith in the night
Awakening the doves on fire over the heads of
The hands passing over the hands stroking
To stroke and to wander to and fro
To pour empty and over
Over and flow with the waters of ascent
Yea over and flow with the scents of fact and event
in the wombs' waters pricked by thorns
Thorns burnt to burn white as the mounds of ash
Silver-white as the garments of freedom
Withheld in the womb and the silver
Silver letters of moon
SONGS OF THE JACKAL [extract]
The jackal sings from out of the window of darkness:
The station of the sun singing the 9 songs of:
Fire, balance, mystery, formation, the iron axe,
The scarlet throne, the boiling waters, wild ox,
And the open mouth
Songs held fast in the hands of nature, man and woman:
however combined: to open their
Mouths to life and its opposites: form and shape
Water and wine: spelling their 3 names:
'Satisfaction', 'grace' and 'mercy'
Which summon the 111 contractions breaking bone
Beating metal to foil and awakening this songs
Circling in the swarming birds of strength and
Power cycling in the tears of chaos and love
Spiraling before the presence of the winds
Delivered by the mouths open like the hollow
Hands of proportion stirring the double fires of Toil:
'long-suffering' and 'forbearance'
Torches at the open mouths expiring the lights of
Mystery which balance the breasts of wolf and bear
Water and wine and the dark sayings of love and
Chaos digging graves at twilight
Expiring the wonders of shower and storm under
The same roofed womb:
Cavernous rocks in human form splitting
Removing the ashes of the fires sung black to
Blacken and crack the contractions of foundation
And the North Wind
Behold the sun
The son of the mother's serpentine face studded
With iron and speaking in dark fiery dreams
Dreaming the songs of the jackal
Casting sparks into
The essence and flesh joined in the songs of
Those lying side by side:
whose cries split the Veils of 'I am that I am'
split by the voices of
Those dancing to the charming songs of
Mother-desire to embrace the sparks out
Her breasts as soft and tender as birds born
From out: her will, desire, fire and fate
Her skin: mother earth
Source of the foundation split in
The exchange of the fruits of fruition for
Understanding and light
VERSE FROM OUT THE CAULDRON [excerpt]
Behold the blocks of hewn stone joined together by
The wind of the breath and the breath of the
Wind which glistens as light and rings as sound on
The mount of the sacrifices: 'desire' and 'indulgence'.
At the altar of something at the altar of anything
At the altar of no-thing the moon crowns the bride of
The laws from out the sisters of the moon of
Understanding and coition's visions from the clouds and
The light like the son and his daughter appearing as
Lion and dove the weight in the womb cleansed as
The young lamb is white bringing rain from the
Sun ruling the 7 names wrung out from the blood of
Formation before the lovers in their union and deep
Commotion before the 7 sisters of the daughters:
The worlds to come the gates of both entrance and exit
Water wine perfume and spice
Before the 5 names:
the billowing surf
The vaulted chambers the heavenly arch
The crown of the essence and the heart of stone
Within the garden under the roof of the coals
Taken from the mound of the sisters of union:
first walked upon by the brides of the heaps of bones:
Powers of the dark clouds bursting forth from
The circle of glory to the circle of becoming
Stretching forth the hand to the tongue licking
And lapping the flames in the hand stretched forth
As the serpent of the grave stretches forth the
Hand to father the fruits of nights' blindness
Stretching forth the hand to dissolve the
Letters of guidance and the fates and the
Fortunes of the lights of the running waters of
Morning breaking forth as the re-born re-enter
The bronze circle and the green horizon
Hands upon the sword which glides on the waters
Running through the gardens of pleasure in the
Heart upon the waters which lick lap and wail through
blind in the night as the shadows of Lilith conceive of the child of conception crossing the lines of justice awakened with skin to foresee of both time and space
And to breathe within the woman of conception
The woman of sleep
Them both the brides of the blazing lion who
Gathers honey in the seals of the letters of
Death and oppression thought and speech
As shepherd and shepherdess shape and form
Creation creating the voices of and for the lovers who knock
at both entrance and exit:
restoring sight with the
Bleedings beginnings engraved on the
Door-posts of resurrection: passed through to shatter the house of
The sisters joining the ends of death of
Perfection to the perfection of death:
The first drops of blood and fire drawn from the
Waters of the full months slumber asleep in the sign
Of the 3 fingers bent over the palm
Once these words have been flesh
Full like young lips
Now without your breath
They're dried out
Footmarks in dry mud
Patterns the river left in her bed
Skeletons where there once has been flesh
Snakeskin where there once was snake
A life. A tongue
Once these words had a perfume
Juices ran through it
Sparks came off
Now they're stones in the desert
Stones in the desert
Stones in the desert
But they might be a trail
For your bones carrying flesh
For your feet carrying breath
For your breath carrying voice
For your voice carrying perfume
[Doro Franck / 1987 / for Mother Tongue]
I have hands when I talk yea yea yea - I got hands when I talk - When I talk
someone - Someone's looking at my face right now - Right - I have your face -
It's all over there - It's everybody's face - It's all over there - It's like -
It's like I - I'm speaking at your face - You know my eyes ain't looking at it -
I'm speaking at your face - I'm looking at your face - I have hands when I talk
- When I talk someone - Someone's looking at my face right now - Right yea - And
I have your face though it's everybody's face - I'm speaking at your face - Yea
Yea you know my eyes ain't looking at it - I'm speaking at your face - I'm
looking at your face - When I talk - I talk when I talk - When I talk to your
skin - I can't talk then - I I can't talk then - You know I ah I have hands to
do that - Yea - Mechanical skin - Yea - I'm looking at your face - When I talk -
There there - There are so few to connect with - There there are few to forgive
- I'm speaking at your face - I'm looking at your face - When I talk - I can't -
I can't talk then - I have hands to do that - There are so few to connect with -
Mechanical skin - So few - When I talk - I do yea yea - And and and what else
about your face - Yea there are few - There are few - So few to connect with
[From 'an uns retrospective', Life Sentence, 1981, Subterranean 1986)]
I don't know but I think they're doin' it now - I think they're doin' it now man
- They they're playing slow music and - and you with your eyes closed - you you
with your eyes closed - Rocking back rocking back and forth back and forth - On
the back of your hand - You're a morbid morbid person - Are you a morbid person
- I mean out there on the streets you know twenty dollar makes and can can and
you with your eyes closed - You you you with your eyes closed - You know rocking
back rocking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on the Ba' on
the back of your hand - You you you - Are you a morbid person - You know I mean
out there on the streets you know twenty dollars makes them believe - You know
that's what they think - They think twenty dollars is going to make them believe
you know - And unless you know what she looks like man - Are you - Playing slow
music - You know that's what - They say - You know like - The like - The blood
on their pants - Like like like the back of your hand - Like turn on the lights
- Are you feeling that crazy tonight - You know that's what they say - They go
help me feel better tonight like the blonde do - You know you're hot like
tonight - You you're you're a morbid morbid person - Are you a morbid person -
You know - I mean out - That's what they think you know - And unless you know
what she looks like man - Are you feeling that crazy tonight - You know that's
what they say
[From 'an uns retrospective', Life Sentence, 1981, Subterranean 1986)]
WRAPT IN A BLANKET
You know she was missing for nine days - I heard about it - All about it man -
She was missing - She took huge risks for that cause - Boy, boy, she - She was
wrapt in a blanket and it was found by her body and and there were no signs of
violence - But she took huge risks for the cause - There were no signs of
violence - She accepted unexpected, shit - She died - She was missing for nine
days - I heard about it, all about it man - She was missing - She took huge
risks for that cause boy - Boy, she was wrapt in a blanket and it was found by
her body and there were no signs of violence - But she took huge risks for the
cause - There were no signs of violence - She accept, accepted unexpected - Shit
- She died - She was dead for several days - She was dead for several days man -
She took huge risks for that cause - She took huge risks for that cause man -
Huge risks for that cause in a blanket - And it was found by her body and there
were no signs of violence - But she took huge risks for that cause - There were
no signs of violence and she accept - Shit - She accepted unexpected - Shit -
She died - She was dead for several days - She was dead for several days man -
She took huge risks for that cause man - Huge risks for that cause - She was -
She was missing for nine days - She was wrapt in a blanket - Man - She - It was
found by her body and there were no signs of violence - There were no signs of
violence - She accepted unexpected - And she accepted unexpected - Shit she died
- She was dead for several days - She was dead for several days man - She took
huge risks for that cause man - She took huge risks for that cause man - She was
missing for nine days - She was wrapt in a blanket - And she was - It was found
by her body - There were no signs of violence - There were no signs of violence
- No signs of violence - She accept - She accepted unexpected - Shit she died -
She was dead for several days - She was dead for several days man
[From 'an uns retrospective', Life Sentence, 1981, Subterranean 1986)]
LIVE AT TARGET - uns -1/4 of 33 - Subterranean Records, SF - 1980
First uns performance, winter 1980. Steve Tupper of Subterranean asked me to do
the LP as Z'EV, but as 'Shake Rattle & Roll' was about to come out on Fetish, l
suggested taking this opportunity to make uns (conceptualized in Fall '79) a
reality, and thus embarked on the Persona piece. Subterranean was completely
supportive of the Persona piece and released material from all three. The label
also has the distinction of remaining in business the longest, having released
material by me. Other cuts on the LP: Flipper; B side, Factrix & Nervous Gender.
[Recording: M. Fox]
POEXTENSIONS AND CONTEXTS - S.Weisser -16/33/45/78 - Subterranean - 1981
Poextensions was the name I had coined for my 'sound' poetics. This version was
a real-time mix in the studio, not on the board, using the 3 C105s and material
from Spatial Poetics & Oomoonoon. Various playback speeds were suggested.
Contexts was coined for my visual 'concrete' poems. Source material was
vintage mimeographed copies of book reports by young students, found in an old
shed outside L.A. 500 copies of the record were pressed in black vinyl, no
label. 1000 copies of the 12 Contexts were printed.
SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL - Z'EV - Video - Fetish Records, London - 1981
So, in Fall 1979, Z'EV finally surfaces. I met Rod Pierce through Jim Fouratt in
Manhattan. Rod was there arranging the release of KGB. He also met and put out
records by the Bongos, Bush Tetras, Lydia Lunch and 8 Eyed Spy. I was intent on
releasing Z'EV on video - audio only would not deliver all the information l
wanted. The tape was VHS and documents my first show in the N.Y. area - at
Maxwell's in Hoboken, N.J. (hometown of Frank Sinatra). l was opening for the
legendary R. Stevie Moore, in a rare live performance. Frank didn't show up, but
John Childs was there and graciously recorded the performance and consented to
its release. He used 2 cameras (one on a tripod, one hand-held) with real-time
switching mixing (pre-scratch video). Unfortunately, the home video market was
still in its early days, and Fetish was long gone by the time it had taken off.
The first ever videotape to be released by a record label.
Z'EV - Z'EV - Flexidisc - Vinyl Magazine, Amsterdam - 1981
My first performance in Amsterdam (Fall 80) was at the Octopus, which was the
center of much activity at the time. It was arranged by the people who were
later to put out Vinyl, the first alternative and professional music magazine
dedicated to the scene of the late 70s/early 80s. This was in the third issue.
The pressing was from my first performance at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven, and
was edited at the yet-to-be-named O.D. Studios. Soviet Sex were on the flip
SALTS OF HEAVY METALS - Z'EV - 12" 45 - Lust/Unlust Records, NYC - 1981
Recorded at Sorcerer Sound in SoHo, with production by Charles Ball. One side
was live from the Mabuhay Gardens in S.F., recorded by Rex Probe. This was the
first time the Z'EV instruments went into a recording studio, and the first time
their sounds were electronically enhanced.
Production and Decay of Spatial Relations - Z'EV - 33 - Backstreet Records,
Rotterdam - 1981
Recorded and mixed in two days (May 12 & 13) at Backstreet Studios, Rotterdam,
with Martin van der Leer and Peter Backstreet. We're talking vintage 8-track
equipment, no effects save varispeed and overdubbing. There were also 2 tracks
with me 'playing' tapes provided by Peter. This was the first and only studio
LP. Cover by Z'EV. This was Bleecker Bob's "favorite Industrial Record".
AUF B/W ELEMENT L No.9 - Z'EV - 45 - Kremlin Products, Eindhoven - 1981
Auf/Uit was a 2 track stereo edit from 5 seconds of the dry drum track taken
from the Wipe Out session reference cassette. At this time I was into my
residency at Het Apollohuis, and was developing O.D.Studios (standing for Over
Drive or Optimal Discourse, depending on the context). This was the first
product that materialized from there. Glenn Branca: "hot as a pistol!".
ELEMENT L - see MY FAVORITE THINGS
WIPE OUT B/W ELEMENT L No.6 - Z'EV - 45 - Fetish - 1982
Wipe Out was originally recorded Spring 1981 at Sorcerer Sound, with Charles
Ball at the helm once again. This was our absolute peak. Technically speaking,
there were six basic drum tracks and 18 tracks of effects - six different
digital delays on the snare drum alone, and 60 inches of bass drum thundering on
the One (a 'big' R&R bass drum is 24"). Unfortunately Charles went out of
business before it could be released. The master tapes are still sitting on the
shelf - soon to be a CD single! As the sessions were never paid for, this 45 was
in fact a bootleg; Rod Pierce and I mastered it at Abbey Road from the cassette
reference. Fetish went out of business almost immediately after releasing it.
The story goes - I was performing at SPIT, the 'rock disco' (remember them?) and
the dressing rooms were underneath the dance floor, and I got locked in after my
set. Wipe Out came on and the house went wild. As soon as I got back to
Manhattan, I called Charles and convinced him that if we could get it out by the
summer, it would be a hit like 'Rock Lobster'. Not to be. Element L - see MFT.
ELEMENTAL MUSIC - Z'EV - 33 - Subterranean - 1982
Recorded Feb 12 at the Savoy Tivoli in SF, with a phase relation added later at O.D.Studios.
The first Z'EV release by Subterranean. Technical info - see track annotations under Savoy Tivoli.
6 Examples - Z'EV/uns - Video - Target Video, SF - 1982
I'm not really too sure what's on this. A short interview and a video of the ULU
performance from Live at Target, and, l assume, Z'EV at ULU (my first London
show, at the end of the tour where I opened for Bauhaus), and Z'EV at the Target
Afterhours series in 1982. That leaves three mystery selections, because I've
never seen the tape. But they did say in the blurb, "Target Video believes Z'EV
is one of the most unique and important artists of this century". So I've never
given Joe Reese a bad time. Flattery got him that far.
SAVE WHAT? - uns - cassette - Kremlin Products - 1982
This is the complete performance partially documented at the end of CD2. The
other side is a recording I made later that night as the Kremlin staff and
friends were jamming on an extremely large and complex percussion installation I
had gradually built up on the first floor of Het Apollohuis, courtesy of Remko
Scha, which was also used for Bust This! and The Old Sweat. This night was the
end of my residency at Apollohuis.
EDITEDITIONS/CONTEXTS - S.Weisser w/ Doro Franck - 45 - Subterranean - 1983
When last we left the Contexts - there were 500 left after the 500 included in
the original edition of 500 had sold out. So a process piece was conceived.
Another recording would replace the Poextensions, and 1000 would be pressed,
leaving 500 after the Contexts had flown from the racks. At that point a new
visual piece would be made, and a staggered system would follow - a new piece
every third print run. The Editedition was a resurrection of a name I had coined
as S.Weisser for self-published material c.1974. From 1982 onwards, I've been
heavily influenced by Doro Franck, Conversation Analyst supreme, and took to
recording and editing tapes of us talking. She had just been teaching a seminar
on Argumentation, based on a taped domestic argument donated to her by a friend.
Well, we'd been having our fair share, and this was the 'artistic' outcome. The
Editedition was released on clear vinyl (Steve's idea) and I spent one day at
the Alternative Tentacles' offices signing all 500: S.Weisser, 1/500. When your
product is as difficult to come by as mine, you learn to cater to the collector mentality.
50 GATES B/W WORLD PERCUSSION - Z'EV - cassette - Staalplaat, Amsterdam - 1984
In the summer of 1984 I was enmeshed in perhaps my most intense sound sculpting
project, the construction of the '50 Gates'. It began as a set to perform as a
duet with Tim Wright, but by the time it had been finished, that idea had passed
on. To honor that, I dissembled and retransformed the elements: PVC tubing in
all sorts of colors and sizes, capped with heads of animal skin. This reversed
the conventional paradigm of Western drums, organic shell (wood) and inorganic
head (plastic). Much of the tubing was disused sewer line, providing 'animal
magnetism' as Tim Wright would say, adding another edge to its dynamics. Photos
of the original appear elsewhere in this book. The transformed elements were
then used on the Night of the Dead, 1 Nov 1984 at NL Centrum. The recording that
was released, however, came from the next day (too much audience noise). I left
almost all of the elements at NL Centrum and never saw them again, though on 1
May last year, I was on the streets for the Queen's Day celebration in NL and
saw someone playing one of the heads. I introduced myself as the maker of the
drum and she thanked me, saying that she had had a good time with it. There was
also a sheet of stainless steel used in the recording, tuned by me, and later
stolen by SPK for use on their European tour that year. World Percussion used
Korean, Jamaican, South Indian, Senegalese and Brazilian selections that I
encountered on radio, in performance, through hands etc., and were mostly listed
as 'unidentified-drumming'. I haven't managed to put Staalplaat out of business.
The third pressing of '50 Gates' will be b/w The First 30 Minutes: a recording
of the original sculpture, though it was only of the high to mid-range drums.
This begins another process piece, and any further pressings will rotate sonic
information from there.
TITAN NITE (1/2 of 'Atonal v.1') - Z'EV - 33 - Dossier Records, Berlin - 1985
In Dec l984 I went to Berlin for the Atonal Festival. The PTV performance is on
the flip side. This is a funny one. Because l knew it was for a record, I only
played for eighteen minutes, so the audience wasn't too happy. And because I
knew it was being processed heavily (and in excellent hands), I played in a
certain way (simply). But the recording was made without any effects. I am most
unhappy with this record, and this is the only one I ever saw any money from...
MY FAVORITE THINGS - Z'EV - 33 - Subterranean - 1985
Dedicated to John Coltrane. The original title was to be 'Access, Memory and The
Invisible Man', but that's only half the story, which I've been holding back
since Elemental Music. EM 's original title was '4x4', and was to have come out
instead of the material on EM, documenting the persona piece with
S.Weisser/Instill, Z'EV/Zones, uns/Says and Magneet Bond/Element L #7-12. For
one reason or another, it didn't happen, but the Access side of this record, and
material on the CDs here, make up the lost record. Zones was recorded live at
the Pyramid Club in Alfa-Bet City on a Sony pocket recorder (the model before
the Professional Walkman); once the voices started talking when I listened back
to the take, later that night, l thought l could never release it: it would have
been too much for listeners. With the addition of a phase relation at
O.D.Studios, however, it moved further into music and is probably my 'ultimate
statement' over complexity in sound.
SCH÷NSTE MUZIEK - Z'EV - 33 - Dossier - 1986
My least favorite front cover! Nothing to blame but my own clouded judgement at
the time. Also, an example of my vernacular Eurospeak - I was blind to the fact
that while 'schnste' is German (for 'most beautiful' or 'warmest'), 'muziek'
was Dutch. Oh well. Many people thought it was intentional, but it was just
plain ignorance. This was my first release to be digitally recorded and the
first commissioned recording since Production and Decay of Spatial Relations...
All new material, all first takes, and sequential.
LIFE SENTENCE - uns/S.Weisser - cassette - Subterranean - 1986
My favorite title. This, at 100, was supposed to be the limited edition (see
The Old Sweat ). It was from original recordings made on 17 March 1981 at Aldo's
on Broadway in SF, downstairs from a massage parlor, which explains some of the
lyrical content (see examples). The recordings had one track for voice, one for
noise. I took one to three second bits and over a 72 hour hack beginning 26 June
1981, I built up multiple one minute pieces and then wove them together at
O.D.Studios. If it is played in mono there is a mix of elements; in stereo,
depending on the panning, there is a real-time mix potential open to the
listener. I broke Mark Pauline's sledgehammers breaking the records that filled
the 7" tape boxes which held the cassette and the brass ring-bound lyric booklet
together. The boxes were prepared by me using bronze powder mixed into a clear
ink base and signed S.Weisser, uns Archive, 1/100. This took a week. It was
released by Subterranean in Oct. 1986.
THE HOTTEST NIGHT - Z'EV - cassette - Decay International, Rotterdam -1987
Hayo den Boeft came to see me in 1986 and as I had always wanted to release at
least the two Z'EV sets from 12 Feb 1981 'in context', he agreed to put them
out, even though the first set had already appeared as Elemental Music. I also
did a 'formal' visual piece which was included in the package, using a detail
from a newsprint photo, mirrored and repeated.
THE OLD SWEAT B/W THE INVISIBLE MAN - Z'EV - 33 - Coercion Records, London - 1988
The Old Sweat replaced the title 'Pounding the Pavement', and The Invisible Man
finally surfaced. This is a sorry saga. Phil S. of the then Coercion label
contacted me for something to contribute to a compilation. Normally I do not
bother with compilations (with one or two exceptions), but for some reason I
consented, and he came back to say that Coercion wanted to do individual LPs and
would like mine to be the first. I warned him not to, but they went ahead
anyway. Red Rhino was doing the production and distribution, the product was
completed (my test pressing is in Ursula Block's archive at Gelbe Muzik in
Berlin), maybe a few copies were sold, Red Rhino went into liquidation, and that
was the fat lady's song. This was the first time l turned tapes over to someone,
and they assembled the record. l was satisfied when I heard the test pressing.
Cover by Andrew McKenzie. I ended up with a box of 25, and that's going to be my
OPEN IN OBSCURITY - Mother Tongue - 33 - Touch, London - 1988
This was the beginning and the beginning of the end of my first collaboration
with Andrew McKenzie. One side is Andrew realizing a composition we had decided
on, based on the rhythmic proportions of the qualities of the astrological
houses. There are 12 pieces over 18 minutes for Tibetan bells and Indian dancing
bracelets. The flip side is based on source tapes I recorded on the Sony TCD-5M
in our 'living room' after Doro had returned from Egypt, which I then sped up
and pitch shifted accordingly. Andrew and I then orchestrated that into what was
pressed. 'The Humble Man' is an absolute classic; Andrew's already completed
piece, Imsak (see Spiral SPL:1), was used as the orchestration and was in
unbelievable synchronicity. The cover was by Neville Brody, Tony Cooper and Jon
Wozencroft - 'polacolored' still life, based on an original by the Spanish
painter Juan de Zurbar·n, and a processed photo of the alarm bell on the back
wall of the Virgin Megastore in London.
BUST THIS! - Z'EV - 33 - Dossier - 1988
Andrew and Z'EV at the black boxes. This was actually our first 'in person' work
together - just before the Open in Obscurity material was assembled. Q # 1 was
the only piece for multiple players ever released, and used the Apollohuis
installation and O.D.Studios phase relation to outstanding effect. The rest
featured fragments from the past, reprocessed digitally. It also featured a
completely reconstructed composition of Z'EV by Andrew while I lay sick
OPUS 3 - Z'EV - CD - Helmholz Theatre - 1990
A recent release on the label of Van Lagestein (who produced all the material
referred to under Corps de Garde in the track annotations). Staalplaat are the
distributors, hopefully protecting Helmholz Theatre from the product jinx.
Recorded 15 April 1990 in De Duif (a church) in Amsterdam. c.70 minutes, 20
pieces. Five acts of four scenes each. 15 were first takes and of the five
second takes, four were technical false starts and only one was redone because I
realized I'd used too many instruments. Recorded sequentially between 12 and
6pm. This was the first time I'd played in six months, but coming after my
torrential spell of Nov 89 to Jan 90 weaving theatrical structures for future
pieces, my compositional skills were never finer - resulting, I feel, in my
penultimate expression over percussion musics.
1968-1990: ONE FOOT IN THE GRAVE - Z'EV - 2 x CD + book - Touch - 1990
The salient. In the Fall of 86 I began to duplicate my personal archive of live
performance tapes at Time Based Arts in Amsterdam for inclusion in their audio
archive (developed by Julie Smit). In 87, when Andrew McKenzie came to
Amsterdam, he became aware of this and felt that an abstract of that mass of
info should be made available, and initiated the process which has culminated in
this retrospective. The initial plan was for six cassettes, totaling 7 hours of
material, and Andrew and I compiled that. At this point, Jon requested that I
come up with an overview of the work. Whilst l was in the process of preparing
this, a few fundamental changes in my life began. Number one, for the first time
l was forced to be objective over the entire span of my work/life. Up until this
point, I had always acted as if they were one and the same. Number two, without
intending it, was that the retrospective 'drew a line' and I could no longer
continue to work in the way that had just been 'encapsulated' by the end point
of the retrospective. These two aspects combined to allow me to a) see my life
and work as separate entities and b) search for a new impulse to follow in the
creation of work. The more distance l get from the original experience, the
better this piece becomes. At the beginning l was still dealing with it from the
preceding Z'EV perspective of total involvement. Coercion notwithstanding, it
wasn't until the Summer of 89 that I could say to Jon "l trust you, do it". In
the Fall of 89 (Nov 4 to be exact), the 'new impulse' finally came into focus in
a frenzy of writing. I began adapting plays to accompany my music, light/set
ideas etc. In Winter 89, Words of Temple Press contacted me for inclusion in
Ratio No. 3. As with uns, the concept will become a reality with the publication
of the 2 structures in 1991 - Wheels On Fire # 1 & 2, completed April 90. So
it's good that this retrospective has been put together over three years, so
that the first steps of my 'second foot' will soon cross the frontier.
(The programming capability of CD players rarely seems to extend beyond 24 selections, so most of the short 'voice transformation' pieces at the front of CD1 have been grouped together accordingly.)
Z'EV: FORBUKI - 28 April 1990, Recommended Records' shop, Wandsworth Road, London. A short performance at short notice.
The superball section from the start of the second half.
Digital recording by Touch (original cassette).
S.WEISSER: BOOK OF LOVE BEING WRITTEN AS THEY TOUCHED - 14 March 1975, Museum of Conceptual Art, SF. Based on the 40,320 permutations of this sentence. An edition of 10 was printed with the use of a computer. Each voice read sentences beginning with one of the 8 words. Voices: Faryl Bell, Lorry Benjamin, Ilyse Feder, Mary Ann Melchert, Emi Ozaki, Judy Parks, Margaret Pethick, Carol Schaler. Recorded by Christopher Grulich, 1/2 track Revox (cassette dub).
S.WEISSER: AS IS AS - 19 Feb. 1976; first piece with home studio based around Sony Superscope reel-to-reel 1/2 track, serial # 001, a gift to my father from Irv Tuschinsky, his friend, who had the original North American franchise for Sony Superscope in the 1950s: it passed to me on my father's death. There were three other reel-to-reel recorders of various makes, picked up from thrift stores in Oakland. Recording: Advent (original cassette).
S.WEISSER: INSTILL - 19 March 1976, Theatre Vanguard, LA. Voices: Susan Sharpe-Fitzgibbons, Rebecca Navarre, William Jackson, S. Weisser. Four 20 minute sections, each taped and subsequently replayed. Voice progression: 4-8-12-24. Recording and replay engineered by Carl Stone. I had also commissioned a film from Roberta Friedman which was shown simultaneously. This is the 48 voice '5th' section, assembled in July 81 at OD Studios, Eindhoven.
S.WEISSER: 9 FEATHERS FLOATING - August 1977, home studio, 1523 4th Avenue, Oakland. First piece using 3 Superscope C105 cassette recorders with varispeed: they were later incorporated into the uns configuration. Also marks the beginning of the use of cassette loops. 9 voices. Recording: Advent (original cassette).
S.WEISSER: OOMOONOON: DANCING ON THE BRINK OF THE WORD #1 - 19 Sept. 1977, Umunhum Room No.342, University of California, San Jose. A 3 hour tape installation beginning with three 3 minute loops of 3 voices each - their ambience was recorded and every 45 minutes the loop replaced. Voice progression: 9-15-27-51. First released in an edition of 25 in 1978 by Union Gallery, CSUSJ (from edition).
S.WEISSER: SPATIAL POETICS - 19 Nov. 1977, La Mamelle/Mission and Van Ness Streets, SF. Part of the West Coast International Sound Poetry Festival. A live mix of various tapes from past performances broadcast to a major pedestrian and traffic intersection in San Francisco. The backing track was a recording of the same location at the same time the week before. Recording: C105 automatic recording level (original tape).
S.WEISSER: OOMOONOON: DANCING ON THE BRINK OF THE WORD #2 - 29 March 1978, CSUSJ, from a 22 1/2 minute mix done for 'Audio Edition' release (ibid). 3 C105 recorders, max. 18 voices. Recording: Stephen Moore in the Umunhum Room.
S.WEISSER: THE MOUNTAIN LOOKED AT THE MOUNTAIN...AND SLIPPED AWAY TO SEA - First performed 17 March 1967 during 'Language Events' at California State College, Long Beach. 1/2 of the audience were saying "the mountain looked", and the other 1/2 "at the mountain" - the performers listening. On 21 Aug. 1981 at OD Studios I produced six 20 minute cassettes, 6 versions of "the mountain looked", 6 of "at the mountain". They were intended as source tapes for live mixes. This version was edited from a 15 minute remix by A.McKenzie and Z'EV, 10 Jan 1988, a sequential ordering of the sides: + - 1,2,3,4,3,2,1 minute per side. OD Studios was my creation from equipment available at Het Apollohuis in Eindhoven, where I lived as Remko Scha's guest when I first 'moved' to the NL in March of that year. OD Studios: a Sony TCD5M cassette, a modified Revox, and a playback system with twenty four 12 inch speakers capable of shaking the foundations of this 5 storey ex-perfume factory.
S.WEISSER: OK, GET RID OF THAT - Oct. 1983, Corps de Garde in Gronigen (during the time I was doing a residency in their studio programme). The last known/remembered voice transformation piece. Prophetic text: "OK... right... get rid of that". OD Mobile: TCD5M and Revox.
Z'EV: SO - August 1984, Studio 82K, Amsterdam. Late night whilst mixing through my collection of source tapes during breaks between the building of the '50 Gates' drum weaving. Playback was on a variety of mono cassette players - recorded over the air with the TCD5M and the 2 ECM 50 mics.
CELLAR-M: BLEEDFAT - 15 Sept. 1975, The Roundhouse (later known as 'The Compound'), Hunter's Point, SF. Will Jackson: main voice, Tchrepnin synthesis, echoplex, tapes. Naut Humon: Buchla synthesis, Tchrepnin synthesis, echoplex drum synthesis, voice. S. Weisser: HOLE/E concussion, power tools, voice tapes, voice. We took Cellar-M to Bizarre records and they passed on us. Recording: 4 track by Oliver Di Cittio (mono cassette dub).
'TO': BIG WAVE - April 1977, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, International Trade Center, Tokyo. Will Jackson: Tchrepnin synthesis, screwdriver guitar, echoplex, tapes, voice, taishigoto. S. Weisser: concussion. Edit and titles: Will Jackson. Recording: Advent cassette deck (dub).
S.WEISSER: SOUND OF WIND AND LIMB - 25 Nov. 1977 (full moon), Works Gallery, San Jose. 2nd solo performance in this context. (Note: Laurie Anderson's sound sculptures were on exhibition in the gallery). Recording: C105 cassette (original).
YOEL: LIVE AT THE 'FAB MAB' - April/May 1978. Recording: C105 cassette. 1st released on 'Blub Krad', a LA Free Music Society release, late '78 (from AM's cassette of the record).
RAX WERX: IN THE COMPOUND - Original recordings during sound checks of the 'Rax Werx', an extended 'drum set' I built for work with R & N and which I shared names with in that context. This was for some early R & N recordings circa 1978 by Rex Probe; also source for almost all Element L compositions. The editing was done at OD Studios, June to August 1981 (original cassette).
Z'EV: RADIO STATION KPFK - 18 Feb. 1978, LA. Broadcast and recorded by Carl Stone, with thanks to Phil Mendohlson. Last S. Weisser performance before 1st Mabuhay show (original cassette).
Z'EV: SHAKE RATTLE AND ROLL - 15th Aug. 1978, at Nik Fault's video studio in the old Carnation milk building on 3rd St. in SF. Performance was videoed. Audio recording: Rex Probe (cassette dub).
FIRST 30 MINUTES - Original recording August 1984 from the 1st recordings of the completed '50 Gates'; live overlays and phasings done with mono cassette players, over the air, TCD5M and the 2 ECMs.
Z'EV: METAL BIZONDERE PLASTIK - 12 Nov. 1980, Fountainzaal, Melkweg, Amsterdam. 1st performance in Europe. Recording: unknown light technician (original cassette).
Z'EV: HOTTEST NIGHT - 12 Feb. 1981, Savoy Tivoli, SF. This is from the 3rd set that night, with assemblages. The 1st set was by uns, the 2nd was Z'EV sculptures (released as Elemental Music by Subterranean), 4th was by uns and a selection from that is on CD2. This was the only time this performance situation occurred. Microphones built by Rex Probe. (Sets 2 & 3 released on cassette by Decay International). Recording: Paul Young with a cassette deck (dub).
uns: BRC - August/Sept. 1981, OD Studios. This, and 2 others, from an LP's worth of material generated as an uns studio album . The title of the album was to be 'Mother Tongue', which would have been the first emergence of that context. Source material, recorded with Rex's rig: Aldo's and uns shows 8 and 13 March at the Mab.
Z'EV: LUST/UNLUST - March/April 1981. 4 of 7 pieces recorded at Sorcerer Sound, NYC, for the Salts of Heavy Metals release: only 2 were used. Engineer: Greg Curry. Production: Charles Ball (cassette of mix-downs).
uns: STRANGE GIRL - See BRC above.
Z'EV: FLEW TING - See So above.
Z'EV: DOCUMENTA - 22 June 1982, Documenta No.7, Kassel, West Germany. The opening day of Documenta: 'Freunde Gute Muzik' presented a selection of young German bands, and Z'EV. Thanks to Carmen Knobel for arranging the performance (original cassette).
Z'EV: THE LIGHT OF METAL SOUNDING - 6 Dec. 1982, Martinson Hall, Public Theatre, NYC, as part of the Language/Noise series produced by Lynn Holst. I chose to perform with Peter Van Ryper and Jackson MacLow. Recording: Michelle Hout (original cassette).
Z'EV: GRONIGEN MIX - 10 March 1983, OD Mobile at Corps de Garde in Gronigen, NL. Produced by Z'EV with TCD5M and Revox from material recorded earlier that night at the Grand Theatre in Gronigen during the Elemental Music tour - 9 March to 5 April 1983. A Corps de Garde production. Source recording: digital PCM by Dick Lucas. Additional percussion on the tour: Ger Van de Beuken (original cassette).
Z'EV: UNDER THE HAMMER #1 - Original recordings Winter 1984 in the Compound, during the rhythm track sessions for 'Chasms Accord' (the 2nd Rhythm & Noise record on Ralph). Oberheim and Linn drum machines, programming by Z'EV and Naut, live beatbox by Z'EV, engineering by Aldric. Recorded over the air off the Yamaha monitors, TCD5M and ECMs by Z'EV. Editing and SPX90 processing, Spring 1988 at Studio 82K (original cassette).
Z'EV: SHORT WAVE - see SO above.
Z'EV: PIECES - 4 April 1983, performance/installation at Rijksmuseum Kroller Muller, Otterloo, NL. This piece, 3 years after the Savoy Tivoli, was the peak Z'EV show for form, content and context. The instruments must have been satisfied because the following 3 years were completely different. On 12 Feb. 1987, I was mixing tapes as the soundtrack to a theatre/movement piece presented by 1/2 of the first year students at the Theatre School. Dub from original mono TCD5M recording by Marianne Brouwer.
Z'EV: THE ERL KING - 11 Aug. 1984, parking lot adjacent to 131 W 21st St., NYC. Final shooting of material for 'The Erl King', an interactive video piece produced by Roberta Friedman. The cover for Salts of Heavy Metals came from an earlier shoot. Recording: digital PCM by Paul Blank and Eliza Pauley (cassette reference).
Z'EV: BEAUTIFUL MUSIC - 10,13 June 1985, Kleine zaal, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam. Last 12 minutes of the 2nd night. Major talking here! Selections from this piece appear on Bust This! (Dossier Records) and the NL Centrum documentary LP, QED. Concerts produced by Arts and Entertainment/Van Lagestein. Recording: professional walkman by Van Lagestein (dub).
Z'EV: LIGHTNING MUSIC - 1 March 1986, NAME Gallery, Chicago, Illinois. Part of their 'Art and Alchemy' show. Recording: 1/2 track Revox by Aadam L. Jacobs (cassette dub).
Z'EV: FOLLOWING IN THE FOOTSTEPS - May/June 1987, recorded in studio 2.5 of the Theatre School. Footsteps are Ria Higler's (original cassette).
Z'EV: UNDER THE HAMMER #2 - See #1 above.
Z'EV: BEL'S - Original recordings built up from a ship's bell off an old sound effects record which was then processed over days and days back and forth between the Revox and TCD5M at OD Studios. This was in 1981. The 2 final versions were to come out on Neutral Records, but that never happened. In August 1988 I took a 10 minute version which Steve Tupper had lying around and re-did it with Naut at the Compound. The oxide was falling off the Mylar backing every time we ran it through, which was 8 times, each time running through some lexicon device onto 1 of the 8 tracks of Diamanda's Atari (or Fostex, whatever). We then mixed it, Naut on 4 of the faders, me on the other 4 (cassette reference).
MOTHER TONGUE: WORDS - 14 November 1987, Triple X studios, Park Royal, London.
Voice: Doro Franck. Recording: Andrew McKenzie; apologies to the engineer whose name we've lost (cassette reference).
MOTHER TONGUE: BREETHEENG - 13 November 1987, Triple X studios. Andrew: steer horn, Z'EV: conch, Doro: voice. Recording: as above.
Z'EV: TATTOO - 28 April 1990, Recommended Records' shop: the end of the 1st part. Recording: see CD1 #1.
uns: ALDO'S BAR - 17 March 1980, Aldo's Bar on Broadway, SF. uns: 3 C105 cassettes, Shure mixer, Farfisa 'professional' organ (smoke damaged and donated by Carl Stone), fuzz box, bull-horn voice (donated by E.E. Feder), Peavey 'musician' amp. This recording provided material for: Life Sentence, various Magneet Bond and Music for Organ and Tape recordings, and parts of the original
uns Mother Tongue sessions. Recording: Naut Humon with Rex Probe's rig, modified TCD5M, attenuated line-out from amp (mono), Rex Probe mic. for the voice (original cassette).
uns: SAYS - uns at the Savoy Tivoli, SF, 12 Feb. 1981. 'Vibration', ie. 2 'skipping' modified 'VU Matic' turntables, records; Aside and Beside by 'TO' (we managed to have about 100 copies of each pressed in 1976/77), 2 Sanyo mono cassette portables, Realistic mixer, aluminium foil microphone, Peavey 'musician' amp, Cerwin Vega 3 way 15 inch speaker system. Recorded by Paul Young on cassette with mikes by Rex Probe (original cassette).
MAGNEET BOND: MAGNEET FOR ORGAN AND BOND - 22 June 1981, OD Studios. A synthesised title, as this piece adequately represents both the Magneet Bond and Music for Organ and Tape contexts (original cassette).
uns: BOXES - see BRC on CD1.
uns: PAST 2 DAYS - June 1982, Martinson Hall, Public Theatre, NYC. 'Vibration', records: Production and Decay of Spatial Relations (Backstreet Records), 2 Sanyo portables, Realistic mixer, aluminium toil microphone, face-mask, a long black staff. Recording: Merle Stier with a portable Sony cassette recorder (dub).
uns: SAVE THE WHAT? - 19 Sept. 1982, Het Apollohuis, Eindhoven. 5 cassette decks, aluminium foil microphone, the OD studio mixer and speakers (with a different amplifier). Recording: TCD5M (copied from the edition released by Kremlin Product, Eindhoven). This was the last uns performance - exactly 5 years after the Oomoonoon # 1 installation. It also documents an electro-magnetic invocation, which I aborted; "shame" as Anne Bean would say.
First assembly by Andrew McKenzie and Z'EV at the Suitcase Studios, Amsterdam, early January 1988.
Transfer to digital January 23/24/25, 1989, Rhythm & Noise Compound, San Francisco, by Naut Humon & Z'EV.
Final edit: Jon Wozencroft and Z'EV, A Studios, London, begun June 11, finished December 16 & 17, 1990.
"Say what you mean and say it mean" [Jim Thirwell]
As Z'EV completed a recent performance at the 38 Thayer St. loft an enthusiastic person from the audience shouted "More noise!". "Make it yourself", Z'EV casually responded. Z'EV draws a variety of reactions from the crowd. Some stand motionless, absorbing the sights and sounds as if in some form of meditation.
Others rocked with the rhythms and shouted cheers of encouragement and wisecracks. The mood was festive and mystical combined with the exciting threat of danger. Throughout the performance the audience was consciously aware that any accident could maim Z'EV or one of them. As we watched, a cord snapped and a large sheet of metal crashed to the floor. To date, no one has been injured during a show except for Z'EV himself. "This stuff doesn't scratch you. It takes a chunk out of you". Regardless of your interest in 'tin can' music, Z'EV has to be admired for his inventiveness in creating a primitive ceremony from scraps of a modern society. Without the need for conventional musical instruments, without electricity, without modern music theory, Z'EV is still making music. What would you do if the power went out? (Mr. B, Boston Rock, 8/80).
"I guess I'm something of a loner", mused Z'EV, sitting at his mother's dining-room table. "There could be other people doing this with me, but for one thing, I don't stay in one place long enough to really develop a group".
Performing alone, Z'EV (born Stefan Joel Weisser; Z'EV is part of his Hebrew name, meaning "wolf") takes percussion into the realm of performance art. Z'EV employs various drums and objects that are usually made of metals like titanium, stainless steel and aluminium. "I want people to realise what can come from these metals. The more pressure that's used in the production of a metal, the more potential is created. It's like a spring - when the metal is hit, the potential comes back out". Z'EV has performed in all sorts of European locales, carrying his equipment with him in large canvas mailbags. Crossing borders has sometimes been a problem. Belgian customs officials once thought he was trying to enter their country to sell his large pieces of stainless steel. Italian border men dragged him and his bags off a train. "They wanted to see all this 'weird stuff'. Then they wanted a performance". His train left without him. [Terry Atkinson, L.A. Times, 1/85]
What do you think are the important issues? The distinction between fine art and commercial art, and the tendency to sacrifice content for form. Not that things are becoming more formalistic, but as an analogy, 'American' English is the cultural currency. If you have a second-rate idea presented in first-rate English, and a first-rate European idea presented in second-rate English, the second-rate 'American' idea will win. The ideas of the dominant become the dominant ideas. For example, the current trend of mega-movies as just a series of special effects, and a sense of spectacle, creates a level where the appearance of what's happening compensates for the fact that nothing is happening. A certain reality is fed back to the audience to keep them in a controlled status and away from the issues. America employs slick form to evade content. We can also discuss this from the aspect of 'new music'. We're talking about the struggle of form over content? It's not a struggle because the battle is over. Who won? Form. To what are we applying this condition? Everything. [Stefan Weisser in conversation with Carl Loeffler, Artcom # 20, 1983]
When Chicago hosted the New Music America festival in 1982, Z'EV was the musician who almost came. No one doubted that he would be an exciting and colourful addition to the festival: an obsessive and violently physical percussionist with a growing underground reputation and ideas about performance that contradicted Western expectations. It was his violence that was the drawback. Legend had it that his tendency to throw large sheets of metal around the stage to produce sound posed a danger not only to himself but to the first few rows of the audience. Would you want to handle insurance coverage for a gig like that? Neither did the Museum of Contemporary Art and the City of Chicago. [Kyle Gann, Chicago Reader, 2/86]
Bang! Bang! Silver objects came down like hammers upon Maxwell's stage as Z'EV, percussionist extraordinaire, performed his usual heavy metal compositions at the Hoboken club. Z'EV took Bill Haley's "Shake Rattle & Roll" literally as he played his homemade instruments by rolling them across the floor, rattling them together and shaking them up and down. Z'EV proved to be a sensitive and skilled master of his instruments, creating complex rhythms and varied timbres, building to exciting climaxes and demonstrating that there is more to baking pans, used plastic containers and old metal than previously thought possible. Z'EV is a pioneer not only in music, but in ecology as well. [The Aquarian, 11/79]
In being so exemplary modern, Z'EV is as primitive a performer as possible. His instrument literally is his body, and the percussion instruments he plays with all parts of it. Z'EV is a dancer, always in perfect control of his muscular body's movements. At least in concept, Z'EV realises many of modernist art's ultimate goals: primitivism, improvisation, multi-media / conjunction of art forms, the artist as direct creator. Z'EV is also one hell of a drummer. [Louis Morra, East Village Eye, 11/83]
uns achieve a mesmerizing shadowy sonic replication of unconscious dream-states, formed and formless, oddly cyclical like repetitive action delirium. No clue is given as to band members; it might be just one guy, it might be the tape of the shared subconscious of the entire world. [New York Rocker, 2/81]
How much are you consciously aware of what you're doing while you're drumming?
The recent piece that I did that was about twelve minutes - I was consciously aware for maybe three or four of those minutes, and the rest of the time there was this level where I would have no idea what I was actually playing. Because you get a basic groove, as it were, and then you let that groove groove itself, show itself. And that's so the actual message of it can appear - the process of pure form. In the summer of 1980 I was working with a Haitian man, and learned quite a bit from him towards understanding the Caribbean systems of voodoo drumming. In voodoo, the drum patterns are the calls - if there's going to be an invocation of a particular spirit-energy, it's a drum pattern that calls for that energy. So I started learning about that - I became much more linked up to that system. I've used it subliminally, but I haven't really dealt with it that much overtly because it's difficult to do, to keep the concentration. Because if you call an energy down, you have to be able to deal with it. And if you're doing shows night after night, for example, you have to be very centred, otherwise the energy will not leave. And so I'd walk off stage and I would not be me anymore.[Interview by Vale and Andrea Juno, High Times, 3/83]
It soon becomes apparent why his knees are padded, skateboard style, even if one is left to wonder why he doesn't betray a similar concern for arms, chest and head. Whatever, Z'EV's is a powerful stage presence, whose manic energy manifests itself in a dense swirl of metallic sound that sweeps up the listener in irresistable hypnotic waves. Either that, or it more simply drives you to the bar. [Chris Bohn, NME, 5/82]
People think you're not a serious musician until you buy five thousand dollars worth of equipment. So you're against consumerist culture. But it sounds like you're also against collectivist culture. You're talking about people opening up on an individual basis. That's right. But a lot of people have a wrong take on anarchy - it's not everybody doing whatever they feel like. The anarchy I'm talking about is everybody being really responsible, all the time. You have to be on top of things every minute.[Interview by Bruce Bebb, L.A. Free Weekly, 7/83]
Z'EV. Well, if you weren't there it is going to be difficult to give an impression of this man. He describes himself as a 'visual artist' and came into this country from Los Angeles toting plastic bottles, bins, tins, springs and bars. He uses a combination of these to beat out a variety of rhythms (he has more than a passing interest in voodoo and its use of constant hypnotic rhythms). So much for the story. The practice was mind-boggling. At first, the sight of this man totally involved in beating rhythms and flinging himself about the stage provoked bemused laughter; someone behind me kept murmuring "brilliant... brilliant" as if they were trying to convince themselves that they were enjoying something they couldn't comprehend. Then people seemed to become fascinated with the instrumentation and waited eagerly to see what he'd do with the next bit of junk. But when it comes down to it we were all standing there watching someone banging a load of rubbish around - which is something of a comment. And that is brilliant. [Unknown reviewer, Merseysound fanzine, 10/80]
Z'EV layers noises: clanging metal, clunking wood, crashing metal, rattling something, more clanging metal. But there is something about the way he does it that is compellingly musical. Not that I hear melodies, or phrasing, or anything like that. It's some underlying quality that disposes me to consider this carefully-layered cacaphony as music. Some people these days make noise instead of music because they think it's hip. This isn't like that. Z'EV doesn't just break the rules, he actually changes them.[Roy Sablosky, OP, 3/83]
Set For Cellar M 1976
First Solo Set, 1977
Mabulay Gardens, 1978
Mabulay Gardens, 1979
Vlissingen, 1981, with Fad Gadget
Public Theatre, 1981
Erl King, 1984
Kroller Muller 1
Kroller Muller 2
Kroller Muller 3
Kroller Muller 4
PVC Sculpture, 1986
Myth Monster Machine, Berlin, 1986 
Myth Monster Machine, Berlin, 1986 
with Beat Techner, 1987
with Gonnie Heggen, 1987
Live in Tokyo, 1991, with Konrad Becker
50 Gates - front
50 Gates - rear
Symphony # 2, with Glenn Branca
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