In 1963 in the midst of the dictatorship of the proletariat Prague artist Milan Knizak discovered something he called broken music. Because he only had a few records, he played them over and over until he got bored. Wanting to compose something new, he played them at slower and higher speeds, he deliberately scratched them. From 1965 on he broke the vinyl, drilled through it, stuck varying materials to it, or glued the pieces together in a different way. "You can cut them into pieces, break them up, put them back together again... you can also use yoghurt cups with needles to play them." (Claus van Bebber)
The glued joint created new rhythms between contrasting melodic elements. Knizak painted over records, plastered them, charred them. He played all the vinyl artefacts and recorded what happened.
Following in Knizak's
footsteps, two people came together for the first time who come remarkably
close to Laszlo Mohoyl-Nagy's postulate of 1923 concerning New Plasticism
in Music - Possibilities of the Gramophone:
Philip Jeck's record-players - he has several hundred - come from the flea market. They bear the names Pye, Bush, Philips, Ferguson, Fidelity or Dansette, they have built-in loudspeakers and four speeds. None of them cost more than five pounds. "These record-players - nobody else wants them. I'm the only one who collects them all, as far as I know. I painted them and did things with them. They're now worth even less than when I bought them. I recycle these things and give them a different life." That's what the two have in common: they don't throw anything away.
Claus van Bebber, who calls his performance Schallplattenkonzert (Record Concert), also has barns full of materials on his farm on the Lower Rhine: "I started early on to collect all possible kinds of objects and my favourite artists were always those who worked with found materials. Fluxus and Dadaism have strongly influenced me and my artistic work." Their common sound ideal is the opposite of high fidelity. Jeck's effect devices are cheap: a small echo pedal and a toy sampler which can store one and a half seconds of sound. They are used to blur the sound even more, to overlay the loops on the discs with additional layers of repetition. Van Bebber uses wah-wah and distortion pedals for electric guitarists to further modify the signals of his crystal pick-ups. In this first encounter between two broken music artists at the media art festival intermedium 2 a fusion of the medium and the message takes place: Low-tech becomes the moving obituary for the extinct world of vinyl, that material whose varied surface noises stood for an era of easier comprehensibilty. "Where are we going? .... Don't be so curious, little Piccolo! First to the other side of the record." (Andre Popp: Piccolo, Sax & Co)
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