Wednesday, July 15, 2009

AMM - AMMMusic (1966)

Even by my standards, this is weird one. It was recorded live in 1966, and consists mainly of very high pitched violin drones, bolstered with feedback, occasional piano stabs and percussion. At least it starts that way. After what seems like a very long time, you begin to realize that development is happening. More sounds begin to enter the mix and the music becomes more complex. You can hear guitars, saxophone, clarinet, cellos and (perhaps most interestingly) snatches of "found" sound coming from a radio.

The cool thing is that all this happens so gradually that you don't even realize it's happening. Suddenly you just notice it. In its own way, the album can be trance inducing, lulling you into subconsciousness with its incessant hum, noisy humming.

AMMMusic probably bears more relation to free jazz than it does to psychedelia or space rock, and it's at times reminiscent of some of Sun Ra's more extreme outings. It should also be noted that in 1966, nothing like this was being done. Even John Cage's contemporary pieces seem tame by comparison. One can only imagine the impact it must have had on its release.

The CD version offers extended performances that were too long to fit on the LP, as well as the original versions, giving us a nice set of listening options. As I said, the music is very high pitched and brittle, but if you can get past that I think you'll find multiple listens to be quite rewarding. Definitely not for beginners, though.

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