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Rev Dwight Frizzell

natural


Jewel case CD with 12 page booklet

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess
 

Discogs
Bandcamp

•   Scrat  (18:08)
•   Body of the film  (2:55)
•   First painting  (5:23)
•   The rising surfs of the body opening  (2:26)
•   Nocturnal  (14:21)
•   Building the earth  (28:18)  mp3
•   Film making  (1:13)

total time 76:55

Cover photograph by Dan Frueh
Released 2000

After Paradigm Discs released the 1976 LP by Anal Magic and Rev. Dwight Frizzell, the true scope and diversity of this mans activities became more apparent to me. First there were the countless unused remnants from the original LP recording sessions, then the many films and their soundtracks, the regular radio shows, the dreamlanddiaries web page, the large scale intermedia events, performing weddings and leading the live group Black Crack Review. For 25 years there has been a dynamic continuity to his work, and a strong association with his collaborators. He has also contributed to books on Sun Ra, and is a popular tutor at the Kansas City Art Institute. After being so inspired by the discovery of this creative energy a second CD was immediately planned. All the pieces on this release deal with Frizzell's more experimental output, and include 2 long performance pieces that date from the 90s. One is a multi channel sound diffusion piece using electronics, tapes and acoustic instruments, the other uses graphic scores and is more acoustic with backing tapes. Both these pieces draw their inspiration from natural phenomena, using sounds from nature, the environment and the laboratory. They were both recorded in church spaces and, unlike the early work, use high quality recording equipment. Of the other 5 pieces, 4 are soundtracks, and all date from the same period as the LP and have the hallmark of the sound world that prevails on side 2 of the Anal Magic LP, a time when Frizzell was still a student at the Kansas City Art Institute.

Natural selection was recorded in an ancient Ozark sinkhole, a plastics factory, a Gothic church and other acoustically rich areas in Missouri. These communal efforts and soundscape feedbacks were produced between 1975 and 1996, and freely orchestrate Tesla coil, river whirlpools, bass clarinet, dog-whistle, violin, oscillator, bassoon, CB radio and pipe organ' (notes on back of jewel case)

 

REVIEWS

ALLMUSIC
Following the reissue of the Beyond the Black Crack LP, Paradigm delivers a second installment of outsider art from this American experimental showman. Collecting the offcuts of his numerous deranged sessions, this Kansas City tape collage artist turned electronic composer has an entirely unique vision, which is presented here as an overview of 25 years of work. A wide range of musical background informs the varied works on this collection, from Sun Ra-inspired space jazz to multi-channel electronic composition and experimental ensemble performance. It would seem that the Rev. Dwight Frizzell indulged in thousands of musical activities since the '70s, and this is just a small window into a bizarre sonic world. Comparisons are worthless, when as soon as his music resembles something slightly tangible it diverts back off into an unknown universe, and is all the better for it. (Skip Jansen)

AUDION 43
I'm not sure what to make of Dwight. Is he a 'reverend'? What exactly was his connection with Anal Magic? And where has he been hiding this music all these years? Are we supposed to believe it is all religious in some way? Or is this (all the more likely) some perverse joke intent on self hype? I don't suppose any of that matters really, as (depending on how you read them) the cover notes could help you decide either way. It's a bit absurd really! The recordings here date from 1975 to 1996, and cover a wide range of avant-garde styles. Amongst my personal favorites are the opening Scrat which is very much in the moody abstract realms of Luc Ferrari, mixing ambient sound, electronics and processing, and Nocturnal which seems to be blasts from fire extinguishers, bubbling water and buzzing electrics, that give way to metallic and more abstract tones. There are two nice short ditties too that relate more to some early Roger Doyle works in their use of sound textures melding with acoustic instruments. This amounts to 38 minutes that would have made a fine LP. And the rest? Well, after opening with some pretentious waffle that I'm not even going to contemplate the meaning of, the huge 28 minute Building The Earth later achieves Xenakis style intensity as a melange of instrumental tones, does get interesting eventually, without really getting anywhere. The serious minus points though go to: the totally pointless and stupid telephone documentary titled First Painting which is just annoying, and the final track Film Making which is billed as just 1'13" long, but is actually 4'59" of mostly dead silences. So, in all, it's a mixed bag, some of it brilliant and some not so. I guess everyone will get something different out of it. One UT shop browser was just puzzled by it all!
(Alan Freeman)

AUF ABWEGEN (translated)
... Most disconcerting, but absolutely stepping out on his own path is the most recent release on Paradigm by an American called Rev. Dwight Frizzell. These recordings are also for the most part from the 70's (plus a piece from 1995), but are from a sound aesthetic that is tiemless. The many soundtracks to experimental films are dominated by droning sounds that integrate as a driving force with other courageous sounds. In the new track we hear peaceful forest glade voices, similar to those from Christoph Heemann, and in one track we get a look in on a strange communication experiment on the telephone. To top it all there is also thanks to Rudolf Steiner in the booklet - wonderful! (Zipo)

AVANT
(November 2000) Reviewing music that has been composed for extra-musical purposes - in this case film - is tricky. Film imposes it's own structural logic, to which the soundtrack must conform. But presumably, because Frizzell soundtracks his own films, musical structure may at times influence filmic structure, ie the aural field may shape the visual field. Not having seen any of his films, I can't say for sure. On this CD there is one intermedia work 'Scrat', which would appear to have no connection with film at all. 'Body of the Film', 'First Painting', 'The Rising Surf's of the Body Opening' and 'Nocturnal' are soundtracks. 'Film Making' documents Frizzell directing a short sequence; then, after a brief pause, there are distorted voices and instructions; then after another pause, an incomprehensibly distorted voice at a distance. Irony may be intended. The monumental 'Building the Earth' is hard to categorise, but it would seem to be a site specific performance piece; to date it has been mounted only at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, Kansas City, Missouri. The film works were composed during the 1970's, and 'Scrat' and Frizzell's multi-channel theatrical collaborations date from the 90's. The new music ensembles Opus and newEar participate, and the instrumentation ranges from the alto saxophone, clarinet, piano, violin, guitar, flute and bassoon, to less orthodox sound makers such as Tesla coil, dog whistle, seedless grapes and CB radio. Recordings of natural phenomena - river whirlpools, rolling thunder, rainfall, frog and insect noises - are utilised. Frizzell's concerns are predominantly religious, philosophical and scientific (his excellent sleeve notes are well worth reading independently of listening to this recording), and the only problem may be in determining how successfully his ideas translate to music. 'Body of the Film', a bassoon solo interwoven with natural sounds which fade out as several voices begin to speak simultaneously, is tightly focused on a single idea. Likewise 'The Rising Surf's of the Body Opening', for saxophone, electro-acoustics and rainstorm. In 'First Painting', Frizzell rings people up and asks them to choose a number between 20 and 15,000, then uses the numbers to set oscillator frequencies. The density and/or timbre of the oscillations is changed according to information obtained, and the piece is conceptually intriguing. The phone calls are also incorporated. Is 'First Painting' of musical interest? Not especially. But in the context of this programme, it, like 'Body of the Film' and 'Rising Surfs', provides a valuable change of pace and emphasis. I received Natural Selection nearly two months ago, and since then IÕve played it maybe a dozen times. This is what I have observed: if I listen to just a single track I get bored very quickly, even if it's one of the shortest tracks; but if I play the CD from the beginning, mostly I listen to the full 77 minutes. The fact remains that these organised sounds are not always intrinsically musical. It also means they are not predictable, which is presumably why I keep listening. (Brian Marley)

BANANAFISH 15
One of the most popular electives this semester should be Rev. Dwight Frizzell's Natural Selection CD, especially among electro-botanists in the habit of leaving the screen door between film soundtrack and snipehunt field recordings ajar. Highlights include the eighteen minute 'Scrat', combining electronics that'd make Igor's mouth water with an aria by the Ozark's most garrulous pteradactyls; 'Building the Earth', a twentyeight minute montage of live instruments, historical speeches and sound effects from the 'Head' school of filmmaking; and a nicely designed twelve page book in which the Reverend offers a peak over his shoulder at tomorrow's lecture notes. For instance, we're all scraps in a vast patchwork of vacuums and fire and plasma and electric vectors that just Frankensteined itself into existence. Furthermore, the intense, malevolent heat of indifference just behind the random event curtain should not concern us, so long as we choose to recognize that our business is here caring about whatever we care about. The world will never tire of spinning out shit like some anal explosive spider, so must we be ever vigilant in our role as cross-eyed shoeshine boys and underappreciated superintendents. I did not know that. (Seymour Glass)

OPPROBRIUM
With figures such as the undoubtedly self-ordained Reverend Dwight, it's hard to know where to start on the snaky road to the place known as "a rational evaluation". The pathway through the luxurious booklet that comes with this CD is strewn with conceptual red herrings involving "the religious insights Darwin's ideas provoke", bubbles of air in a songbird's throat, Teilhard's neologism for the thought envelope and fuck knows what else. Meanwhile, the personnel list is a scream (Betse Ellis on "log-periodic fluorescent emission from the cabbage-looper pheromone [female sex scent]" anyone? Available for parties, weddings, funerals etc, etc). Anyway, my personal preference (as well as "the safest option", of course) is to summarize all this erudite arcana and esoterica as merely symptomatic of Rev Dwight being lovably off his trolley and sit back and enjoy the show whilst paying only slight attention to whatever conceptual underwiring may or may not be holding it all together. And an enjoyable show it surely is - much grander and more expansive than Reverend Dwight's 1976 Beyond The Black Crack LP (also reissued on Paradigm, also highly recommended) as well as being less indebted to Lumpy Gravy-era Zappa. Field recordings and swirling improvisations in the best American Freak tradition (LAFMS etc) intertwine beautifully on the atmospheric 'Scrat'. 'First Painting' has the Rev phoning up all the chicks in the neighbourhood (often getting their confused parents) and asking them to select a number between 20 and 15,000, the results determining the frequency of the oscillator drones which run through the piece. The half-hour 'Building The Earth' utilises the sanctuary of St Mary's Episcopal Church in Kansas City for a bizarre juxtaposition of live performance and pre-recorded tapes. Comprising material recorded over a 21-year period, much of this CD consists of film and video soundtrack pieces. Hopefully Paradigm Discs' next move will involve a venture into the world of home video to bring us Rev Dwight's cinematic creations. Maybe then we'll be a bit closer to understanding what the fuck he's on about. (Phil Todd)

OTHER MUSIC UPDATE (17.5.2000)
It's little-known outside of Kansas City that Frizzell, of Anal Magic and the Black Crack Review, has a long history in electroacoustic experimentation. And this collection reveals one of the clearest minds I've ever heard tackle the ideas of acoustic ecology and make good art from them. "Natural Selection" contains a number of soundtracks he did for short art films in the '70s, potent combinations of the sounds of wind instruments and liquids under various pressures (sprays, rain, burbling), bolstered by a fondness for primitive electronics. The stunner here is the opening 18-minute track, wherein bursts of static erupt like thunder out of stillness, the seesaw squeal of a violin covers frogs and insects, and a thrumming counterpoint of oscillators evokes the whine of cicadas. Originally performed in 8-channel magnificence, it mixes down to stereo remarkably intact, implying pockets of silence and sound throughout a listening space. The CD ends with his epic 'Building the Earth', which starts with (unfortunately) a five-minute formal lecture. But then the piece spirals out an aural equivalent to Charles and Ray Eames' classic "Powers of Ten", a half-hour composition that tracks sounds from the microscopic to the universal in a flyover view made of human, bird and animal sounds, folk music, piano studies, VLF frequencies, and much more.This is a delightful discovery.(RE)

RESONANCE
Eclectic presentation of works that pits two of Frizzell's more contemporary and ambitiously referenced pieces against several shorter, more processual works originally intended as soundtrack accompaniments to some of Frizzell's experimental films of the mid 70s. The two longer 'free orchestra' pieces, 'Scrat' and 'Building The Earth', draw upon a whole myriad of sound sources that includes acoustic instrumentation, field-recordings and electronics but the overall aural effect of these is limited by a too literal underpinning: with 'Scrat' we are drawn once more towards a nature/culture dichotomy and with 'Building The Earth' a prologue reading of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin almost cuts the track off before it has begun by too heavily overcoding the heterogeneous and detailed musical melange that follows with a mystic cosmology. The soundtrack pieces are a different proposition in that the accompanying visuals are here obviously absent and we are left with sounds operating with some autonomy from intentioned meaning. 'First Painting' comprises three oscillator frequencies whose ranges are chosen by means of three phone calls to Frizzell's friends. Both the frequencies and the calls are included in the resultant piece. 'Nocturnal', remixed here by Clive Graham, makes the montage of local field recordings drawn from the environs of Frizzell's home town take on a more directly affecting presence in that the overarching thematic ambitions of 'Building The Earth' are here supplanted by a microcosmic and intimate communication. (Howard Slater)

The SOUND PROJECTOR 8
The major work here is 'Building The Earth', an extremely ambitious piece for tape-collage work, mixing electro-acoustic with live performances. Its theme is nothing less than the creation of the world. It follows a very narrative path, inspired during fifth grade at school by an educational film about evolution, and school experiments with amino acids. He grew to understand that every single human cell contains a code for the creation of life, after which the young Frizzell started seeing the entire world as a great musical score. On 'Building The Earth', he hasn't shrunk from his ambitious bid to realise a score that might express this deep concept. After a sonorous reading from the works of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the work proceeds over half an hour from the 'local' to the 'intergalactic', in a carefully structured 7-zoned narrative progression. The strange mix of voices from radio broadcasts may remind you of that infamous John Cage concert, but this isn't aleatory - with so many prepared tapes of 'historic' materials overlapping each other in exciting folded combinations, only about half of this is left to chance. As with many of the pieces on this collection, Frizzell packs a tremendous amount of information into the sleevenotes; the concepts behind this work are extremely elaborate, the result of much study and rumination on diverse scientific and mythical sources, and filled with startling connections which verge on the unfathomable. In the same way, the work itself attempts to convey, in sounds, the maximal amount of information possible within its relatively narrow time-frame; when the core of the work kicks in, there are simply too many simultaneous sound events to listen to. Glorious stuff. Whether you can understand it or not, this is an extremely rich and moving work, has a certain grandeur, and is an extremely compelling listen as it builds to its magnificent and life-affirming climax. 'Scrat' is from 1995, a joint composition with Tony Allard and another mixed-media work where all the elements - live performance, electronic and acoustic music, mixture with tapes, live mixing, and the natural acoustics of the performance venue are all equally important to the work. It's conceptual, too - linking the folklore of Scrat Rut (an old German hobgoblin figure) to the work of the 18th century inventor Volta, via the traditional Maypole dance; en route, making observations about the human 'electricity' that is generated by human energy (particularly sexual energy). Frizzell demonstrated this briefly at the Red Rose Club in London when he 'wired up' the entire audience to a Tesla coil. Everyone held hands to complete the circuit, resulting in an audible high tone over the PA - which varied in pitch as we were encouraged to generate more emotional excitement, through bodily contact. The recording on this CD is a joyous celebration of the pagan roots of man, reinterpreted through the prism of modern technology; it exploits the natural energies of electro-magnetic flux, and contains some gorgeous environmental recordings of birdsong, insects and thunderstorms in among the buzzing noises. Remaining tracks were composed in the 1970s as soundtracks to Frizzell's experimental films. The most bewildering is that for 1975's 'First Painting' . The film is a stop-motion animation showing the progress of a three-dimensional multi-media work with sensuous lumps of brown paint being spilled over a richly textured surface, a painting filled with junk like broken teeth, glasses and crosses. Resembles a Jeff Koon movie, without the pop art references. I assume that the resemblance to shit was deliberate, as a major 'Anal Magic' statement. He wouldn't be the first person who's compared making art to making shit. What you hear on this CD is an electronic work realised by random means - Frizzell set an oscillator going, then called up local friends at random asking them to give him a number. Their reply would determine the next setting for the frequency cycle. Since he also recorded the phone calls along with the soundtrack, the result is an endearing art-prank, yet also filled with tension as you wait for the next reply. Other short soundtracks include 'Body Of The Film', which though made in 1977, had a 1979 soundtrack applied from it, a charming and atmospheric composition called 'Antarctica' and featuring the bassoon work of Bill Oldfather. Again, the swishing noises are rather literal when read as the sounds of arctic winds. 'The Rising Surfs Of The Body Opening' uses another eerie tape-mixage composition as soundtrack, a Missouri rainstorm mixed with Dwight's solo sax playing - and sections of live music from the 'Water Breath concert'. 'Nocturnal' has a soundtrack made of nothing but documentary recordings pasted together, freely mixing between sounds of nature (around the Missouri river area) and the artificial (a manufacturing plant, which opens the piece). Hearing water bubbles against the sound of heavy machinery produces the required surrealist effect. (Ed Pinsent)

The SUNDAY TIMES (6/8/2000)
The Missouri fine artist and former Anal Magic member Rev Dwight Frizzell's Natural Selection presents seven electro-acoustic tracks recorded between 1975 and 1995, including the 28-minute Building the Earth, which pitches a reading of Jesuit theological philosophy into a simmering stew of prepared sounds and live instruments, and suggests Birtwistle trying to score ET. But there's simpler fun to be had from Frizzell, too. On First Painting, over a resonating high pitched noise, he phones various bewildered women asking them to pick a number between 20 and 15,000. Having complied, each says, 'You're welcome,' and hangs up, as the frequency of the background tone shifts to accommodate their random suggestion. (Stewart Lee)

VITAL 227
The Rev. Dwight Frizzell is a second release of mid-seventies stuff. Somehow I missed out the first - well, or maybe it didn't stick in my mind. Upon playing this CD, I think I should try out that one too, since this is an interesting collection of multi-channel electronic pieces, mostly created as soundtracks for films, and, I hasten to admit, some true misses. 'Scrat' is a piece that deals with electronica, radio frequencies, animal/insect sounds and is a very nice aural landscape. 'Body Of The Film' is carried by a bassoon and undecipherable voice phenomena. A short but effective piece. Then there is a true miss piece: some conceptual piece about numbers and a phone. Even at his five minutes a true bore. Other interesting pieces include 'Nocturnal' and 'Building The Earth' - both are lengthy excursions in environmental sounds (water, wind, rain and birds). It's not outstanding innovative stuff - perhaps for it's time - but it's an overall good CD with interesting experiments. (Frans de Waard)
The WIRE (June 2000)
The Reverend Dwight Frizzell set nocturnal suburbia buzzing with a music that drew from from obsessive tape documentation and a loose pre-punk pioneer spirit. Last time we heard from the Reverend, he and his Anal Magic cohorts were tumbling from between a monstrous pair of buttocks on 'Beyond the black crack', reissued last year by the UK Paradigm Discs label from its original 1976 run of 200 copies. 'Natural selection' is another Paradigm CD (PD 12) and it mops up some more space evocations and field recordings, this time minus the sniggering stoner humour which fried his debut. Based round Frizzell's quasi-mystic epiphany, which followed an introduction to the theory of evolution as a teen, the music is vast, organic and electrically charged, deep set in microtonal recordings of nature. The opener 'Scrat', featuring distant despondent bleeps, a rainstorm and the hissing of summer lawns, is a beautifully constructed space that pans out endlessly. Elsewhere, he employs the acoustic space of churches, factories and even an ancient Ozark sinkhole. Throw in some surreal phone pranks, low level radio static, oscillators and underwater saxophone and you have a virtual A-Z of underground USA performance modes (David Keenan)

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