La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela - 31 VII 69 10:26-10:49 PM/23 VIII 64 2:50:45-3:11 AM (Ne Glasba CD-R)
Not gonna spend a lot of time on this one but I think you should at least know that it's out there, possibly available only through Keith Fullerton Whitman's Mimaroglu Music Sales shop, which is where I got it from. Totally illegit Slovenian bootleg issue of this classic LP from 1969. Copies of the original pressing of 2,800 are still available through Young's website, but for those of us who don't have $301 to spend, the mysterious Ne Glasba has surfaced and, much in the vein of Creel Pone before him/her/them, made available a great recording that was pretty much out of reach for a good 99% of the listening population.
"31 VII 69 10:26-10:49 PM/23 VIII 64 2:50:45-3:11 AM" is also known as "the Black Record", and features two side-long pieces that accompany the two dates that make up the record's title: "Munich From Map Of 49's Dream the Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery" and "The Volga Delta from Studies in the Bowed Disc". The first one is a pretty barebones recording featuring "only" Young & Zazeela's voices and a sturdy sine wave drone (via Young), and it still manages to be one of the most remarkable things I've ever heard in my life; Young's constantly-in-flux voice rising and falling and climbing to extraordinary peaks with Zazeela's more flat, more anchoring strands weaving in and out, either backing Young's or melting through unaccompanied. It could be, and I say this with few reservations, the most heavenly profound sounds to reach my ears in the history of my life. Or it's high up on the list.
"The Volga Delta from Studies in the Bowed Disc" is in stark contrast, containing considerably darker sounds than the celestial lift-off of the previous side (track). On this, Young and Zazeela simultaneously bow a four-foot steel gong, coercing brief glimpses of harmonic radiance from the instrument amongst lengthy, shifting, mechanized tones and reverberations. Dave Smith's helpful "Following a Straight Line" Young reader describes the piece as "[being] concerned with sustaining chosen sound elements with double-bass bows. It sounds a bit like distant aeroplane engines with certain pitches booming through above the rest" and that puts it as good as anything I could say. It almost sounds like night where "Munich" is day, providing an eloquent contrast that continues to resonate deep in one's blood long after the final seconds have ticked off.
The quality on both pieces is rather good for a CD-R bootleg - there's some gitchy static on the first, but it doesn't interfere too badly. The second sounds muddled, but it's hard to tell if it was recorded that way in the first place or it's a shoddy transfer. Considering all the art from the vinyl edition appears to be reproduced here, from the front and back covers to the LP labels, I'm assuming this was sourced from the LP (or a copy of the LP) and cleaned up afterwards, but I really couldn't say for certain. Whatever the case, I'd take the $15 I paid for this over the $301 version MELA sells and not think twice about it.
I'm not gonna get into the hows and whys of the whole thing, but it really is a borderline tragedy that recordings as incredible and as moving as this are still squirreled away in the vaults, some 40 years later (or more). Those of us genuinely interested in hearing them are restricted to low-fidelity MP3s, bootlegs like this and the "Der Zweck Dieser Serie ist Nicht Unterhaltung" 4xCD...or not hearing them at all, unless we should be so lucky as to catch a Young installation or be able to visit the Dream House in person. For now, it'll have to do.
Click here to listen to MP3 samples from the above album