Nam June Paik: Works 1985.1979

pai-w.jpg (16k) Nam June Paik: Works 1985.1979
(Sub Rosa - 2001)

Sort of an audio-documentary of Korean sound/video artist Nam June Paik presents several of his eclectic sound projects in Works 1985.1979. While not something I'd listen to every day, I am pleased that the pieces have been kept alive for posterity by the documentarians of the experimental at Sub Rosa.

As you may expect from the title, Prepared Piano for Merce Cunningham (28:48) includes assorted piano sounds in the form of soft notes, chords and interludes. You might not expect the spacious, rambling and seemingly-random presentation or sometimes-atonality thereof. The piece was recorded live in 1979. An explosion of spoken and other media samples are strewn together, torn apart and otherwise radically altered in Hommage A John Cage a hand-spliced tape collage; a few spooky passages are interesting, most of the rest are just assaultively disjointed... Think of Simple (0:20) as the "Cliff's Notes" version of the preceeding track.

A 25-minute scene of juxtaposition, Duett Paik/Takis finds two artists working in their own worlds... Taik exploring classical piano and crooning softly; Takis sporadically clanging upon his metal sculptures with apparently unrelated whacks. A stately few minutes of clavichord music (sans beaten metal) winds the track down. What do screaming infants, screaming choirs, Beethoven's 5th, deconstructed media samples and a few moments of peace have in common? Well, they're all crammed into the less-than-three-minutes of Etude for Pianoforte...

The liner notes include some biographical info, recollections, photos and colorful hand-scrawled drawings from the artists.

Having been unfamiliar with Nam June Paik, I appreciate the educational opportunity afforded by Works 1985.1979. In fact, most of its 8.3 rating is based on the informational content and appreciation of its preservation, rather than on factors of listenability or fun.

Sub Rosa has many interesting historical sound and art projects in their unusual catalog. (Be patient for the site to load if your connection is as slow as mine...). Available at Dutch East India.

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This review posted July 31, 2001

AmbiEntrance © 2001-1997 by David J Opdyke (except CD cover art, rights retained by original owners).