“To Composer John Cage” (Anthony Braxton)

What did Braxton learn from Cage? Little, perhaps, but that’s not a problem. Cage’s legacy primarily is one of compositional indeterminacy (short-circuiting the composer, but not the composition), whereas Braxton seems interested instead in refiguring Cage as an improvisor’s avatar. That is: Braxton creates oblique scores, like Cardew’s Treatise (in this score, the letter “G.,” a line, a crossing, a shaded block, a dotted barrier, and the notation, “4%”), which thrive on deciding, each time, that which is in principle uninterpretable according to a verifiable rule. One way, then, to hear the myriad skronks, foghorn soundings, runs, and even screams into the alto: the unescapable decision, always with reference to an ultimate undecidability.


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“Continuum” (Jaco Pastorius)

Via Cantor’s logic, a finite set is never equivalent to its own subset(s), while all infinite sets are. Equality, then, only appears amid infinite particularities without exhaustion. Given this, a continuum properly thought must have no limit point, no possible incarnation or subjectivity to mark either terminus. Repetition of root braces the four-note ascending figure in multiple registers (whose only differences are in timbre and vibrato). Improv section approaches relation via timing (phrases eventually beginning in the last quarter of the bar, for example). Track ends with root and harmonic ringing out simultaneously, with the latter endless—proving that the note, physically, is a node which initiates relation by remaining still (and in the middle).  Presence, presently, registers positionality and not (proximal) possibility.


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“Igneous” (AMM)

Ongoing attempt to rewrite the rules of improv.  Unlike, say, jazz improvisation, it’s difficult here to discern much in the way of traditional themes and variations, call and response, etc.  Under the rubric, The Nameless Uncarved Block, the goal of the project is to avoid form, and to focus instead on the matter itself, enacting a kind of Marxian materialism.  With patience, one can recognize the guitar, the piano, and the like, as the instruments’ physical possibilities are patiently explored and potentially exploded.  But the problem with the materialist orientation brings one to a classic différance: as soon as matter becomes coherent (is read as “igneous,” for example), one already has given up on that which is “nameless” and has invoked an implicit form.


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