Saturday, January 8, 2011

all out of ink, inc.

"Bowery Bum (May 1964) is the piece that occasioned my association with Dubuffet and opened the way to my discovery of his own extraordinary music (of which I eventually made a first commercial edition on Finnadar SR 9002). The visual impetus of the Dubuffet drawing, one of his Bowery Bums, suggested the form, the content, and even the sound source - the sound of a sole rubber band used as a counterpart to the India ink of the drawing. The outer formal character of the piece corresponds to that of the drawing - a seemingly random maze of lines through which appears a human figure, pathetic and droll."

- İlhan Mimaroğlu, sleevenotes:
"Face The Windmills, Turn Left" (Finnadar SR 9012).

The trail which led - for me - ultimately to İlhan Mimaroğlu begins with a stark one colour caricature of Mingus by Greg Condon. "
Changes One" and "Two" - recorded in NYC in December, 1974, with Don Pullen on piano; George Adams on tenor sax; Jack Walruth on the horn - are variously celebrated as a high, or derided as elevator music climbing only so far as a wedding planner schmoozing in the honeymoon suite of an uptown hotel. The last position is thoroughly strange when one considers that much of the content from these two sessions was informed by the Attica Prison Riots of 1971, mitigated only marginally by allowing that both albums were produced by Turkish electronic avant-gardist, İlhan Mimaroğlu.

For some, the blame lies not with the featured composition or performance, but the veneer and polish of the final Atlantic release. In short, those essential qualities Mimaroğlu brings to bear in consenting to channel the muscular Mingus at the top of his game.

Born in Istanbul in 1926 and educated at Lycée of Galatasaray, Mimaroğlu "studied in the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Center under Vladimir Ussachevsky" after his move to the US in the 60s. In 1971 he collaborated with Freddie Hubbard on the critically acclaimed "Sing Me a Song of Songmy: a Fantasy for Electromagnetic Tape". For his part, Mimaroğlu was rewarded the Guggenheim Fellowship. One assumes Mingus was himself impressed; there is no record that the decision to draft Mimaroğlu into service on "One" and "Two" was anything bar consensual.

Beginning in earnest in 1964 - with "Bowery Bum" (after an ink drawing by Jean Dubuffet, executed 12 years earlier) - Mimaroğlu's experimental compositions are simultaneously linear; collaged; perplexing. Founding the Finnadar label in 1973 as a conduit for both acoustic arrangements and his continuing experiments in stereo and quadraphonic sound, Atlantic bought over distribution of his back catalogue in 1981.

"Musique Noires", released in 1983, compiles - so far as I can gather - earlier "tape parts realized in the studios of Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center" overdubbed with traditional instrumentation and voice. In the following instance, with cello by Charles McCracken.

There. I just thought I'd hurl out a curved ball.

İLHAN MIMAROĞLU: BOWERY BUM from "Face The Windmills, Turn Left" LP (Finnadar) 1976 (US)
İLHAN MIMAROĞLU: STILL LIFE 1980 from "Musique Noires" LP (Finnadar) 1983 (US)



Tim said...

I can tell you this, modern jazz, THE AVANT GARDE, is so weird and infinite I believe in it completely. Where will it go next and who will end it and move it up a notch? Listening carefully, I can sense the beginning of an understanding of how vast and full the interior of the artists mind is. No thing else does that for me, not bop, not classical, nothing. Then you have Evil Gypsy after that to consider who remind me of Black Sabbath in the beginning and off I go....

ib said...

Jazz may be the last stop for a little pause and clarity. Miles Davis does it for me most of the time - anything after 1968 or 9 - King Tubby and Lee Perry might have been the finest jazz terrorists ever to have been saddled with something tokingly populist. I don't know. I'm a contrary motherfucker. As soon as I get my brain washed of all the shit that rattles my sabre, I get up and crank out something loud and bubblegum and pretend I'm fourteen or fifteen again. Cock a snook. Shake a leg.

The Stooges. Sex Pistols. Anything with attitude.

Black Sabbath were pretty fucking good. For a while. Three or four albums, maybe more. I like them even better now than I did when I was twelve. Stone to the bone. All that jazz.