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Wishart beach


Jewel case CD with 16 page booklet

•   Menagerie -
       Musical box  (2:18)
       Vision  (2:39)
       Still Life  (4:36) mp3
       Feeder  (3:38)
       Sardine Candle  (1:50)
       Aqualung  (5:24)
       Spam Guitar  (2:37)
       Window Box  (3:18)
       Ark  (3:45)
       Dreamer  (4:43)
•   Beach Singularity  (20:56)
•   Vocalise  (9:42)

total time 65:33

Cover by Clive Graham
Released 1997


Releasing electroacoustic music in this country has historically, always been a dedicated pursuit. With no national record labels and very few electronic music studios to support this music, the UK has always lagged behind its counterparts in both the United States and throughout east and west Europe. Trevor started releasing his own music in 1973 and continues to do so to this day. Much of this CD was originally privately released in 1979. Whilst other maverick British composers (Nyman, Bryars, Cardew etc.) chose to stay out of the electronic music studio, Wishart and a few others, (starting out in 1961 with the pioneering LP of musique concrète by Desmond Leslie), took the plunge. This CD comprises a complete reissue of the 1979 LP with an additional 4 Menagerie pieces added to the 6 on the original release, plus an improvised solo vocal piece recorded at the old Recommended Records shop in London on 30th March 1991.

Beach Singularity was performed on the beaches at Morecambe, Cleveleys, St. Annes, and Southport in the summer of 1977.

The Palm Beach Orchestra is:

Poppy Holden - vocals;
Lyn Dobson - saxophones;
Melvyn Poore - tuba;
Robin Coombes - clarinet;
Dick Witts - percussion, vocals;
Martin Mayes - horn, vocals;
Trevor Wishart - tapes, miscellaneous vocals.

Tracks 1-10: Menagerie: began life in 1974 when Trevor Wishart asked a number of well known British performance artistis to build small assemblages for an exhibition in which each object would be accompanied by appropriate taped sounds. The exhibition, consisting of eleven assemblages, was first prepared for the Birmingham Arts Lab and presented there in January 1975. The accompanying tapes were all made at The University of York Electronic Music Studio by Trevor Wishart. Menagerie and Beach singularity previously released on LP in 1979.

 

REVIEWS

ALLMUSIC
Award winning UK electro-acoustic composer originally released this recording in the late 70s, and was ground-breaking in his pursuit of the genre and one of the few English academic composers working with electronics at the time. This CD on Paradigm features a re-issue of the famed 1979 LP with four additional pieces never before released. (Beach Singularity is an excerpt from a day long happening in which the composer performed with an ensemble that featured saxophonist Lyn Dobson avant-tuba player Melvyn Poore, vocalist Poppy Holden and clarinet improviser Robin Coombes. This performance was designed somewhat like a social intervention, where the musicians performed in conjunction with tape-music and electronics broadcast from small portable stereo systems scattered along the English sea-side. Four short sections make up Menagerie which are a display of some of the most sophisticated electro-acoustic music of the time, and the final piece added to this CD is a solo vocal work entitled Vocalise which is a spontaneous sounding improvisation. This collection combines the influence of free-improvisation, electronics and Modern composition techniques into a unified and highly developed avant-garde music. An important composer working on the fringes of numerous genres, Trevor Wishart's extraordinary skill is exhibited well on this CD re-issue, as most of his recordings are extremely obscure self released LPs. (Skip Jansen)

AUDION #39
Usually this is best known as just Beach Singularity due to the layout of the original LP cover, although it's the Menagerie suite which most buy the album for. The ten section aural 'art exhibition' steps from an idea Trevor formulated in 1974. The concept makes little sense unless you hear the album and see the assemblages created, and even when you hear the album, they still make little sense. But this is Trevor Wishart, the maverick, laughing in the face of serious contemporary music. In these sonic sketches: Musical Box has skipping records, clunking cacophonies, and early plunderphonics, Vision couples sci-fi electronics/oscillators and dissonance, Still Life has toilets, a match lighting and such like, and then Tony Blackburn's alternative 'medley of your favorite gun battles from...' hmmm...'very good sound indeed!' - the best hit of the album if you ask me! And so it goes on, absurdity upon invention, and there are 4 unreleased pieces here too. Beach Singularity itself is an interesting work too, very unusual and original in its creation and execution, with a mini brass ensemble (notable for including Soft Machine and Third Ear Band cohort Lyn Dobson), and much use of tapes and processing, the other worldly feeling created feels like a by-product from an early David Lynch film, not least the cacophonous deranged Beach Boys' 'Surfin' USA' and Wurlitzer dance-hall organ! The bonus Vocalise is an edited version of a solo performance by Trevor Wishart at the Recommended Records shop in March 1991, and adds another amusing touch to the proceedings. Someone once asked me why Trevor Wishart hadn't gained the same seriously acclaimed notoriety as his European counetparts. The thing is that eccentric maverick lunacy and the serious avant-garde don't go together (too proodish those high-brows you know), but Audion doesn't mind - lunacy's welcome here! (Alan Freeman)

NEW YORK PRESS (May 6-12 1998)
Sound poetry is hip again. In the past year there have been a slew of reissues, including some wonderful Henri Chopin discs most notably the reissue of 'Cantata for Two Farts & co.' dating from the mid 70's and Bernard Heidsieck's 1974 Vaduz, both out on the Italian Alga Marghen label. Call it the wonders of repackaging, but these discs have been spiffed up with slightly pumped-up original graphics, giving the products a chic 90's gloss. They look great, sound poetry made sexy - who would have thunk? The latest addition to this growing list is veteran sound peot Trevor Wishart's "Menagerie/Beach singularity/Vocalise", originally released privately as an LP in 1979. This CD reissue has 4 additional tracks plus a wonderful improvised solo vocal piece recorded in 1991. The Menagerie section is a group of sound pieces based around a gallery show Wishart curated in 1974-5. He contacted a bunch of British performance artists and requested that they each created an object accompanied by a soundtrack, some of the objects actually produced sound and others were silent. He then went into an electronic music studio and mixed the sounds to create a very rich sort of speech based musique concrete. The accompanying booklet is chock-full of black and white photos showing the objects. My favorite is Michael Scott's Musical box, a contraption that uses a carrot dangling from a string as a tone arm with a needle attached to it to play cracked 78's. Surrounding the record player are Barbie dolls and 1930's playing cards with images of people dancing on them. The correspondent musical track on the CD is a straight document of Scott's invention - it sounds like a cracked 78 - with a touch of studio enhancement from Wishart. He takes Scott's raw material and slightly alters it, pushing the audio experience from a scratchy analog one into the realm of electronics, full of echo and repetition. The rest of the tracks in the Menagerie section move along the same lines. It's a lot of fun, and much of the material involves found British media sounds. One hilarious track by Mick Banks and Wishart is a cut up of a British morning schlock jock, obviously influenced by The Who Sell Out. The DJ announces that the next song will be by David Cassidy, and Wishart and Banks replace it with the sounds of multiple car crashes. It's rare that electronic music openly admits its pop influences, and that's what makes this record so great - by allowing this type of source material 25 years ago, Wishart's concerns remain completely contemporary. Negativland has nothing on these guys. The pop saturation holds for the best track on the record, Beach Singularity a 20 minute collaged documentation of a performance by Wishart and a crew of 6 cronies calling themselves the Palm Beach Orchestra. In the summer of 1977 they headed down to a number of English seaside holiday resorts wearing strange costumes and carrying tubas, saxophones, clarinets, etc. On the beach they would erect a cloth maze and start playing popular old-fashioned seaside tunes. Inevitably, an audience would gather, whereupon the band would start making their way inside the maze. As they got further inside, the music became less pure and more bizarre. Tape collages and sound effects were added until they arrived at the centre where all imrovisational hell broke loose. A racket would ensue either charming or causing the audience to flee. Highlights include a wonderful improv on 'How much is that doggie in the window?', smothered in a truckload of cartoon sound effects. The final track on the record is a straight solo vocal improvisation by Wishart called Vocalise from 1991. There are no tape manipulations - just a guy and his voice. It's a bunch of gutteral throat sounds, whistles, mouth farts, moans, screams, howls and made-up languages - a perfect way to end the record, with Wishart showing us his enormous prowess both with and without electronics. (Kenneth Goldsmith)

ReR (catalogue)
Classic recordings by one of the electronic and improvising pioneers. Beach Singularity documents an environmental music event, bizarre in itself and rendered stranger by subsequent processing. Menagerie is a collection of excellent tape pieces made to accompany an exhibition of assemblages.The extra piece Vocalise is a good example of Wishart's highly developed vocal performances. With well made booklet. This is an important document of interesting and in many ways seminal work, missed on its first appearance. I hope this gets TW the recognition he so well deserves. Recommended. (Chris Cutler)

RESONANCE
This is a quality reissue of two classic works by another electroacoustic maverick. Menagerie comprises 10 tape pieces to accompany found object sculptures commissioned from performance artists, whilst Beach singularity is the remaining document of an environmental work from 1975 performed unannounced on the beaches of British seaside resorts. The tape work that remains takes the twisted reworkings of popular seaside tunes by Wishart's friends and mixes them up with Wishart's own 'Fanfare' (for trumpet and tape) and Winston Churchill's Dunkirk speech and other material. Wishart has catalogued the variety of sounds it is possible to make with the mouth and vocal apparatus. Here he demonstrates them in a ten minute untreated vocal improvisation, Vocalise, (additional material for this reissue), recorded in 1991 in the intimate shop space that was at Recommended Records.

The SOUND PROJECTOR (Third Issue)
Three rather variable pieces for the price of one. Menagerie is about the best for my money, although not exactly a satisfying listen. It was planned as an art gallery installation event, with sound pieces by Leeds-born composer Trevor Wishart to match up with strange assemblage objects by some English artists. Photos of some of these are thoughtfully provided in the booklet. Mick Banks' Still life pitches his precariously balanced teacup on top of a stack of paperbacks about to fall over, against a worrisome soundtrack of a housewife apparently screaming herself to death as she listens to Tony Blackburn over domestic sound effects of boiling kettles. Michael Scott's Musical box is an old broken record played by a phallic carrot to entertain two Barbie dolls; guess what innovation Wishart devised for that canard... that's right, a skipping old broken record! This is probably making 'Menagerie' seem more interesting than it is; a visit to such an installation might have seemed radical in 1974, but now seems merely quaint. The artists need to go back to their Joseph Cornell cribs (they have none of that wounded US surrealist's pathos, humour or invention.) Wishart's tape collage sounds are diverting enough, but don't really stand up by themselves. Beach Singularity we had best draw a veil over - or at least a white canvas tent flap. Wishart went down to the seaside to perform on beaches in Lancashire in 1977 along with his Palm Beach Orchestra - a virtual German oompah band (tuba, sax, clarinet, horn) of his friends dressed in funny shorts and little bowler hats. The resulting ‘avant-garde' versions of 'Surfin' USA' and 'A life on the ocean wave', treated with live tape collage mixes, are ghastly; it's a bit of English whimsy trying to say something about English whimsy, and I suspect deeply patronising to its intended audience. Only the dreaded Promenaders come close to this ironic ‘serious-hilarious' pomposity. Vocalise is a Wishart solo having a stab at the Henri Chopin style of making mouth music in an extended vocal improv performance; a left over from Howard and Andrew Jacques' 1991 Recommended Records shop gigs which I don't think made it onto the These CD release. For what it's worth these pieces are rare, originally only available on a 1979 privately pressed LP.

VITAL
Another fine work on a small label with eyes open for interesting historical material. Trevor Wishart is somebody who I am not very familiar with, other than he being part of mid-seventies improv bands and being accustomed with Scratch Orchestra and the like. This CD has 3 parts. The first is 10 pieces, as a total entitled Menagerie. Wishart asked performance artists to build small assemblages to which he made sound pieces. Sometimes there is an obvious relation between sound and image. For instance Spam Guitar (a box of strings) is accompanied by loosely played guitar sounds. Others are more open interpretations (or maybe it is not clear from the images in the booklet.) Most of these sounds are electronically generated and sounds not at all as if recorded in 1975. Some of this is quite violent stuff. The second part of the CD is Beach Singularity. A whole bunch of wind instruments come unannounced at the beach and play well-known pieces of popular music, but add a twist of taped electronic sound and improv music. Strange collage stuff is the result. But being not a big fan of this kind of stuff, the full 20 minutes is a bit too much. The last part is the most recent recording to be found on this disc, a 10 minute vocal improvisation in the best Henri Chopin or dada tradition. Essential historical stuff of recent musical history that is luckily being preserved. (Frans de Waard)

The WIRE
'Just the thing for the beach!' said the man from The Wire. So here I am, sitting on Praa Sands in Cornwall in blazing sunshine, listening on headphones to 'Beach Singularity', recorded on various English beaches 20 years ago (and first released on vinyl in 1979). Wishart's Palm Beach Orchestra, wearing Clockwork Orange style bowlers, first set up a cavas maze and then drew a crowd by playing deliberately inept versions of seaside tunes ('A Life On The Ocean Wave', 'Surfin USA') in a jokey manner somewhere between The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band and The Mike Westbrook Brass Band. Wishart provided taped noises - from electronic sound to scratchy turntable manipulations of Churchill speeches and 'How Much Is That Doggie In The Window?' The group included luminaries such as Melvyn Poore (tuba), Lynn Dobson (saxophone) and Dick Witts (percussion), but the main interest is in the way Wishart stitches it all together. The tortuously banal introduction to 'Hello, Hello Who's Your Lady Friend' heralds an analogue inferno, as Wishart loops the opening word: 'Hello. hello, hello, hello...' - much as Steve Reich did with with 'Oh Dem Watermelons' in the mid-60's. Then again, Wishart turns a loop of 'We shall fight on the beaches...' into a brass band melody, anticipating 'Different Trains' by more than a decade. Wishart's great talent lies in the manipulation of sound. He's one of Britain's great virtuosi of sonic transformation, whether working with analogue electronics, concrete sound, digital technology or improvised solo voice, as he does on Vocalise. This previously unreleased track (recorded in 1991 at the Recommended Records shop in London) provides an opportunity to hear some of the vocal techniques and noises, such as the 'sub-audio cheek vibration' and 'filtered inhaled glottal clicks', listed in Wishart's book 'On Sonic Art' (Harwood Academic Press). The most interesting section of this CD is Menagerie, a series of short pieces (dating from the mid-70's) made to accompany small assemblages by performance artists such as Mick Banks, Roland Miller and Michael Scott - a 'Pictures At An Exhibition' for the age of sound collage. A knockabout tape collage of 78's, including Al Johnson, compliments the broken record, Barbie doll and carrot of Scott's Musical Box. Scott's Still Life prompts a close recording of breakfast sounds - Tony Blackburn's radio chatter, a kettle boiling - spliced together with earsplitting concrete noise, juxtapositions made funnier by Blackburn's fondness for the word 'sound' 'Be interesting to see if that one makes the fun 40', he comments after a particularly wild sonic swoop. Six of the ten pieces were on the original vinly release, but four - Feeder, Sardine Candle, Window Box, and Ark - are issued here for the first time. Despite the undoubted invention and novelty, I'm not crazy about Vocalise or Beach Singularity. But I suspect Menagerie will reward repeated listening and study. The pieces are valuable to anyone curious about the way sound can be stretched and pummelled into submission. At a time when we are subjected to so much cheap and cheerless sonic art, Trevor Wishart's hard won skills seem especially valuable (John L. Walters)


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