morphogenesis discogs resonance

Lily Greenham

2CD with 12 page booklet

Cover by Lily Greenham
Released 2007

Includes postage - for multiple items I will refund the excess


CD 1
•   ABC in sound  (2:35)
•   7 consonants in space  (3:26)
•   Polar Polaris  (8:51)
•   Tillid  (1:34)
•   Autor  (1:00) 
•   Outsider  (2:15)
•   Borges (soundtrack)  (10:15)
•   Capital  (0:58)
•   Elastic collision  (0:37)
•   Experience  (2:10)
•   Circulation  (9:51)
•   French Persian cats  (1:23)
•   Ona  (0:50)
•   RRR  (2:31)
•   Pre-eminence  (7:49)
•   Hocus pocus  (2:19)
•   Gesichter/Visages (excerpt)  (3:49)
•   Musica  (1:48)  
•   Percussion=voice  (3:54)
•   Improvisation  (1:16)

total time 2hrs 17:47


CD 2
•   Unknown title  (2:14)  
•   Cherokee  (1:28)
•   Lichtgeschwindigkeit  (6:00)
•   Circulation (extended element)  (5:51)
•   Friction  (1:27)
•   Movimiento  (4:32)
•   Hymn to lesbians  (0:56)
•   Sino  (1:17)
•   Traffic  (10:31)
•   Tillid  (1:12)
•   Tops  (0:53)
•   Trykfejl  (0:16)
•   Seascape  (7:58)
•   Underground  (2:57)
•   Relativity  (8:13)
•   Untitled studio experiment  (1:32)
•   Polaris supermix  (6:33)
•   Gebet  (0:46)
•   End of concert  (1:13)

Britain’s best known sound poet is Bob Cobbing, but it’s hard to come up with a list of other sound poets working in Britain in the 60’s and 70’s. It’s equally difficult to think of any female sound poets working anywhere. Lily Greenham was Danish, but spent her childhood in Vienna. After several relocations across Europe she settled in London in 1972 with her British husband (musician and poet Peter Greenham), where she lived until her death in 2001. Nearly all of her own writings and compositions date from after her arrival in London, but prior to this she had been involved in two major European art movements. In the late 50s she had been an active member of the early Wienner Gruppe, performing in their wild experimental theatre works and reciting the new poetry of young artists like Gerhard Rühm, Konrad Bayer and A.C. Hartmann, but before the Wienner Gruppe had established itself as the important art movement it was to become, she had moved on and changed her working practice.
In 1964 she was back in Paris for a second time, but this time she was working as a visual artist creating optical art pieces. She was soon directly involved in group shows with the ‘Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel’. For the second time she was at the centre of an emerging art movement that was exploring new ground, but predictably enough she moved on. Once in London she began to record her own text based compositions that used a mixture of sound poetry techniques, electronics and multi-tracking. The term ‘lingual music’ that she coined for her compositions refers to her technique of using tape loops of text to create complex and dense musical structures. Her most well known composition in this style is ‘Relativity’, which was made in 1974 in collaboration with the Radiophonic Workshop at the BBC. She also worked with quite a few musicians, both via the early LMC network in London, but also on the international scene. A list of musicians she worked with includes John Tchicai, Wolfgang Dauner, Bob Downes, Barry Guy, Hugh Davies, Max Eastley and Peter Cusack. This 2CD set compiles a wide variety of her own work, including live solo performances, film soundtracks, as well as many tape pieces. There are also examples of her performing works by Cobbing, Rühm and other sound poets, as well as recordings of her work with Bob Downes Open Music. The recordings date from between 1968 and 1984.


Lily Greenham was a performer and early pioneer of 'concrete poetry', yep I know how weird that sounds, but all will become clear. She used her voice in ways that genuinely hadn't been explored before, cutting, splicing, pitching and effecting it, making tones and chopping out syllables until words were barely even audible as words anymore, and occasionally punctuated these sounds with electronics or concrete recordings to create experimental compositions like nothing else at the time. I suppose the best point of reference at the moment would be Maja Ratkje who has a similar desire to explore the experimental potential of her own voice, but what Greenham manages is particularly stunning. Falling somewhere in-between Dadaist poetry and the early electronic explorations of Daphne Oram or Delia Derbyshire, what sets Greenham apart from the others is her desire to include the voice. Take 'Polar Polaris' for example, a menacing, hissing eight-minute piece of glorious electronic noise, based on two filtered words, or 'Experience', a peculiar two-minute play on words with synthesizer from the BBC Radiophonic Workshop's Paddy Kingsland. This double disc set is a veritable treasure-trove of oddities and while not as accessible as the Daphne Oram compilation, should hold plenty for the more experimentally minded amongst you. Excellent stuff, and highly recommended.

ReR catalogue
Another important slice of history from the redoubtable Paradigm records: Lily Greenham, composer, performer, concrete poet and optical-kinetic painter, born in 1924 and highly active in both the visual and electronic arts from the early '60s onward; peripatetic and multilingual, she lived in Vienna, Copenhagen, Paris, Madrid and Lisbon before finally settling in London in the early '70s, where she produced prize-winning electronic pieces; collaborated extensively with the radiophonic workshop, toured alone, performed with Hugh Davies, Bob Downes, Barry Guy, Peter Cusack, Max Eastley, John Tchicai and others, and helped shape an era. These are important contributions to the
history of concrete poetry - both as it comes, and where the voice is radically processed, layered and made sound. English is seasoned with Danish, German, French and Spanish and, while the voice is source, sound is always the centre and Greenham consistently works her materials at a high level of imagination and technique. Also captured here are rare recordings of the ubiquitous but unheralded Bob Downes Open Music Trio, and collaborations with Hugh Davies and the legendary Paddy Kingsland. Collected mostly from unreleased tapes, this collection is a melange of home studio, radio and performance recordings which, taken together, memorialise a mature and consequent performer working at a highly productive historical moment: it's like a luminous notebook. Accompanied by excellent notes from Michael Parsons, two texts by Greenham herself, archive photographs and some of Greenham's visual work. A much needed restoration to the record of a significant talent. Excellent

The SOUND PROJECTOR 16th issue
Double CD set of this astonishing multi-lingual, multi-talented, multi-thinking Danish vocalist who lived in the UK and Europe and was wife to Peter Greenham. She did concrete poetry, improvised vocalese, her own form of electro-acoustic performance, and many other sonic things that are pretty much beyond categorisation. She was also a visual artist and explored her own inner worlds through painting and drawing, then later with op-art and kinetic sculptures. And what inner worlds she inhabited! Im still reeling from the steely intellect and force of creative thinking to be found here. To accomplish all this she must have lived three lives, been born with two brains, and spoken with 16 different mouths.
Over two discs which mostly survey the mid-1970s, we hear live performances, electro-acoustic compositions made in the studio, soundtracks for experimental films, poems, and radiophonic works; some involve collaborations with such greats as Bob Cobbing (UK ultra-maverick sound poet titan), Paddy Kingsland (Radiophonic Workshop whizz), and amazingly the Bob Downes trio (UK avant-jazz band which made some inroads into the progressive rock sphere). Even this doesn't cover anything like the full extent of Greenham's achievements. As a performer she also associated with German underground electronic rock genius Wolfgang Dauner, free jazz US giant John Tchicai, and UK powerhouses such as Hugh Davies, Max Eastley, Peter Cusack.
Just start digging into the sound-art here and you'll find straightaway that Greenham is a maestro of language and its constituent parts, the spoken word, the syllable. Poly-lingual, she uses European languages as freely as Matisse used colour, and mixes them up to suit her chosen meanings. She loves puns; words which we take for granted have the meaning flayed out of them by her relentless tongue, and additional layers of meaning are also superimposed by lingual methods. 'Tillid', 'Autor', and 'Outsider' are just three of many shortish cuts extracted from a 1973 work Tune in to Reality, for which Paddy Kingsland did the electronic half. Here she freely ranges across many European tongues and explores the 'rhythmic accentuations' or associations inherent in the syllables. She yaps 'em out like they were hot wasps from her mouth. 'Outsider' is truly a statement of steadfast personal belief where the artiste refuses compromise, refuses to have her ideas adulterated by mixture, and dares us to follow her as she spins strange puns and weaves wild associations around that word. 'Experience' (Kingsland again) is likewise intended as a 'semantic play in several dimensions'. Once again her scepticism of 'shared reality' is detectable in her cynical tone, and the constant questioning of the meaning of one word. Our common assumptions are challenged, and fall. Lazy thinkers, beware!
Another subtle and sophisticated thing she does is re-colonise significant areas of human endeavour outside of art, and make them entirely into her own territory, again though knowledge of many languages, improvisation, and use of tape loops to subvert reality. Take 'Polar Polaris', which starts with loops of two words and includes found broadcast materials; rich with scientific content, it is a very dense impressionistic sketch of geo-physical properties with hidden coded messages leaking out between the cracks she is making. Scientific terminologies are transformed into something totally artistic and personal, their rigid certainties rendered ambiguous. 'Pre-Eminence' similarly undermines conventional scholarship, scrambling a boring academic lecture by cleverly disrupting it with loops, which reduce words to guttural gibbers.
When left to herself to work in a simple home studio with a tape recorder, watch out. Listen to 'Circulation', a French version of 'Traffic' which also appears on CD 2. Loops and varispeeded voices, astounding and uncanny dynamics make this one a remarkable electroacoustic composition. It uses voice and 'three alien sounds'. Greenham's clarity of thought is well demonstrated on this piece, which unleashes all manner of wild ideas, through very precise (but relentless) arrangement of simple elements. The piece gets recycled again as 'Percussion=Voice', using the text to trigger a synthi tone.
So she can concoct studio works. Can she do it live? Hear the extracts from a live solo unaccompanied performance she made in Paris 1976. 'Hocus Pocus', 'Improvisation', 'Underground' just her and a microphone, extemporising meaning from words and phrases, then lapsing freely into scat-speech, song, moaning, language-changing - often all these and more in the space a single breath. Quicksilver brain, challenging ideas. Or listen to how she can perform live against a prepared tape on 'RRR', a stellar example of bizarre mouth work melded with a sickened version of a Terry Riley-esque backdrop.
I've barely scratched the surface of this immensely rich collection; dozens more treasures await the lucky listener. After all how can you summarise a life as diverse as hers? What I really relish is Greenham's tough-mindedness, her refusal to be categorised and co-opted by the narrow-minded male-dominated art and music worlds in which she floated freely like an outsider, owing homage to no-one and refusing doctrinaire creeds. Her 1995 statement which is printed in this booklet is one of the most moving I have read by any artist. It shows clearly what a perpetual struggle the creative mind faces, and what the price of artistic freedom actually is: 'Categories don't fit my character, nor my soul. I am a stranger in a strange land.'
Given that Greenham has no collectible 'discography' to speak of (before this release, her entire documented output in sound amounted to a mere handful of LPs and cassettes, many of them compilations on which she contributes a track or two), this collection has to be reckoned as another triumph for Paradigm in terms of exposing some true buried treasure from a lost world of avant genius, from a vanished time when people actually had ideas and wild energies, instead of networking skills and a MySpace website. The incomparable Hugh Davies has once again been instrumental in making this happen.  (Ed Pinsent)

The WIRE (March 2007 - in collaboration with Daphne Oram review)
Lily Greenham lived a very different story. Born in Vienna, she studied painting in Paris. returning to Vienna for further study, she encountered experimental writers such as Gerhard Rühm, and her performance of a text piece by Rühm and Konrad Bayer is the earliest unreleased tape included in this collection. A permanent move to London came in 1972 and, though insistent on her independence from all classification, she was a familiar, dynamic, wryly humourous and often humanising figure on the poetry scene, then centred at the Poetry Society in Earl's Court. king of that court was Bob Cobbing, and the first of these Cds opens with her reading his ABC In Sound, the date 1968, the listeners apparently teenage and highly amused by the whole thing. Perhaps the setting was a school. Her commitment to audience feedback and abilities as a natural communicator are evident, though the discomfiting aspect of sound poetry - robust, historically logical yet still faintly ridiculous - anticipates its declining prospects within the performing arts.
Bob Cobbing described her as a performer, not a poet. The distinction seems contrary to his own rejection of art categories and is not born out by the material collected for this release. Her interest in process art, or 'programmed art' as she described it in 1995, is consistently pursued through experiments with visual geometric patterns, magic figures, grids and what she described as 'lingual music'. In collaborations with Paddy Kingsland and flautist/saxophonist Bob Downes and his Open Music group she accumulated dense patterns of sound derived from speech: narrated texts, multilingual phrases, single words (a keyword, she called this) or sounds extracted from elements of speech. Repetition, either electronically generated or vocally performed in real time, gives the best of these pieces a hypnotic quality, a slow build to overloaded density during which meaning erodes yet lingers as traces in language fog.
Assessing the work on these two double CDs with any objectivity is difficult. Painstakingly curated and nicely presented, they burst with ideas, energy, venture into territory only barely explored before, moments of absolute clarity and inspiration. Obscurity clouds the issue just as much as tape deterioration or incomplete documentation, and though an understanding of 20th century audio culture is partial without access to work by innovative, important if marginal figures such as Oram and Greenham, a feeling persists: these are sonic remnants of frustrated ambitions, lives which drifted out of earshot and now return in a compressed, somehow indecipherable form.
 David Toop