Friday, 10 June 2011

Beyond Jazz - La Monte Young

Most folks who know me, know that I love music and that I am forever searching for music that will evoke strong feelings and raw emotions in my soul, even to some degree take me above the mundanity of every day life and out into the astral realms beyond the reality of body and mind.

Music which challenges my consciousness is the music that intrigues me the most and within a contemporary setting I have found that Rock 'N' Roll,German Krautrock and Psychedelic music has moved me and my mind in such a manner as expressed above, beyond the contemporary music genres such music as Jazz, Classical and various traditional world music's from the Far-East and India have really bended my mind, infact most indigenous music's do have very mind altering scales, patterns, instruments and sounds which are hypnotic and other-worldly in their nature.

I have a huge love for such Jazz musicians as Sun Ra, John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor and Thelonious Monk (more posts to come of these guys' at some stage later), what these Jazz musicians did in their music was magical, they used rhythms and sound textures to create a vibration and mood which alters the listeners mind set and head-space, to some degree's it even has the power to control it.

Experimental music is also a huge musical genre which I am interested by, the genre is the bridge between jazz and classical music, one of the pioneers of minimalism within the Experimental music field was La Monte Young.

I adore the pieces of music that La Monte Young composed, they are really very interesting and in my opinion are some of the best and most honest experimental pieces of music out there, also some of the most wonderful and mind expanding stuff I have thus far heard, to put it poetically, I consider it to be like being kicked in the head by an angel.

La Monte Young has taken influences from prior experimentalists such as Stockhausen mixed it with the jazz of artists' such as the ones mentioned above, mixed in a bit of indigenous traditional music influences from all over the world and also added a bit of mind altering substances and you pretty much have what La Monte Young's vision in music and sound was.

Like Picasso and his paintings, La Monte Young brought music back to it's most barren, barest and most primitive essence, he brought sound back to the zero point, he brought it back to drone, and inside that drone many wonderful worlds opened up, many textures eclipsed and danced around with each other, creating some of the most brilliant and some of the most perfectly human music in the world. If Blues music was an aspect of the soul of man and if early Gospel was the soul of a people and community.... then La Monte Young's minimalist experimental music is the soul of vibration itself.

Young has composed music since the early 50s and continues to make music to this day, during 1960 Young moved to New York and became a pretty known figure on the avant-garde scene which was happening amongst various sects of artist and musicians. The Early 60s saw the birthof what would later become La Monte Young's defining and most notable works. Around this period Young wished to create what was donned the 'Dream House' a potential haven in New York where musicians could come each day and create music twenty-four hours a day. In wanting to create the 'Dream House' Young formed 'The Theatre of Eternal Music', this group featured Marian Zazeela, Angus MacLise, Billy Name and later featured Tony Conrad, Terry Riley and future Velvet Underground member John Cale (please see picture below of 'The Theatre' with Cale pictured far right playing viola)

Since 1966, 'The Theatre of Eternal Music' has had an ongoing line-up of people who come and go, just like the music that is being played there appears to be no beginning, middle or end.

The Search for the 'Dream House' has never ended and La Monte Young and fellow musician Marian Zazeela have had their 'Dream House' featured as an art installation in various semi-permanent locations around New York including The Guggenheim Museum.

La Monte Young's music and sounds will forever be important and that is what is far out, his sounds will never get old, never be considered new, never lost in time nor dated, because it is forever NOW and forever EXISTENT. I guess that is what is magical about experimental music... I guess you called call it Living Sound (whatever that may be??)

I found the music of La Monte Young via The Velvet Underground during my teens, reading books as a teenager on the Velvets and reading the ever so tiny bit of information about this endless drone music that John Cale was involved with prior to the Velvets was enough for me to go instantly searching to find the music that I was reading about, it wasn't until a few years ago around the age of 22 that I finally 'got' it and really started having a greater appreciation for the music that experimental musicians create, I can now listen to the likes of Stockhausen (even though his work scares the shit out of me), John Cage  etc and various traditional music  from around the world such as Gamelan, Gagaku, Middle Eastern and Indian Raga music, with an open and enjoying mind... In fact I crave to find even more traditional music's from around the world, which may blow my mind and send my consciousness to new levels.

Please see below a few of my favourite pieces by La Monte Young, prepare for your minds to be blown to shreds.

I still don't own any La Monte Young items purely because they are so goddamn expensive and have never really had any real cd reproductions worth any creedance.... thankfully I have known a few switched on individuals over time who have 'taped' me stuff and obviously Youtube has been a great help in hearing more La Monte Young which would otherwise remain in the hands of collectors or the extremely rich.... be warned even CD's have gone for hundreds on ebay.

Drone On......

Paul Messis

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