Angus Maclise - The Cloud Doctrine
2xCD - Released by Sub Rosa 2004
Poet, nomad, methedrine cardinal, and onetime Velvet Underground drummer Angus MacLise, after years of obscurity (and two decades after his death), has gained wider recognition, over the last couple of years, for his vital contributions to the post-Lamonte Young/VU Minimalist/drone activity in New York during the 60s and 70s. Two previous cds on Quakebasket have focused on MacLise the improvising percussionist, featuring extended tribal/trance/noise improvisations with the likes of Tony Conrad, John Cale, and MacLise's wife Hetty. This double disc set features a few tracks in the same vein, such as the "Trance" series, from 1965. Befitting the Cale/Conrad/MacLise trio's previous work in Lamonte Young's Theater of Eternal Music, these crudely recorded jams smear out into whispy drones that saturate the sound field with a gloriously ecstatic clamor. The biggest revelation, at least to me, is the electronic music MacLise recorded in the mid-60s. The 28-minute "Electronic Mix for 'Expanded Cinema'" is a grainy, but vibrantly detailed abstract journey through a variegated soundscape that ranks up there with the pioneering electronic works of Stockhausen and Xenakis. Both sine tones and concrete sounds clash, layer, crescendo, and flow within a dynamic architecture that recalls Varese's masterpiece "Poem Electronique". The piece has all the exploratory din and analog physicality of the best early electronic music. In addition to the music, there if half an hour of rare recordings of MacLise reading his spacy but uniquely skewed poetry. Hi-fi fetishists beware: most of these recordings are sourced from degraded tapes that have been sitting in a box on the floor of someone's closet since the 70s. But their primitive quality does little to hide the raw spontaneity and creativity of this music. The drone pieces, in particular, are given a pleasingly hazy quality that's fitting for these nearly-forgotten communications from yesterday's fringes.
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