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piano 504

yellow box 1

the yellow box -peter gordon, david cunningham 

peter gordon's commentary:

I first met David at Michael Nyman's house in London, where I would often stay when I was passing through London on my way to Europe or back home to New York. While we had vastly different approaches to composing and recording, we found that we shared similar views towards art and process. After I had recorded an overdub or two for David's 'Fourth Wall' LP, the two of us discussed the possibility of working together. I was intrigued by David's use of musical 'found objects' and I suppose that he was similarly intrigued by the idea of treating musical material which I produced as 'found objects'. We were both involved in the use of the recording studio as a compositional tool, albeit with different techniques.

The first of a series of recordings began in London at a loft we had rented from the Worker's Music Association on All Saint's Road. We invited Anton Fier and John Greaves to join us on drums and bass, respectively. I had known Anton in New York, where he had worked with The Feelies, The Lounge Lizards and was just forming The Golden Palominos. John had played bass with my Love of Life Orchestra on a European tour earlier in the year and David knew him from his work with Henry Cow, Slapp Happy and from the occasional meeting in the pub across the road from Virgin Records. We rented Tom Newman's mobile studio and proceeded to record different bits, using often vague verbal instructions as the instigating impulses. One of my main recollections of this session was that it was on the eve of the royal wedding of Charles and Diana and London was deathly quiet as we made rough mixes in Tom's truck in the early morning hours.

Once we recorded the Worker's Music Association material, David proceeded to edit, process and loop this material, often beyond recognition. This became the basis for subsequent overdubs whenever I happened to be in town again. As I would pass through London, I would stay at David's flat in Clapham and the two of us would work intensely at his studio in Brixton. The atmosphere of these recordings was definitely influenced by my first experiences of the rather tense streets of Brixton and its greasy egg and chip joints and rectal-burning chicken vindaloo establishments. I would play whatever instruments I happened to have with me, synthesiser or even guitar (the last time I played guitar in public was with Jill Kroesen at CBGB's in 1978 and I admire David's patience with my perfectly awful technique). Each time I would return, the material would be changed, often beyond recognition and this would provoke a new overdub.

Somehow we had quite a bit of material by 1983, when I found I had some studio time available in Geneva, Switzerland, where I had recorded LOLO's 'Geneva' LP a few years earlier. David flew to Switzerland and we worked through the clock, both recording new material in a 'proper' studio setting and mixing what what we had already recorded. In Geneva, we had use of the magnificent Bösendorfer piano, numerous percussion instruments and a great sounding room.

After Geneva we had the basic materials for this album finished and David proceeded to edit, process and loop them further. I would listen to tapes he would forward to me in New York and make comment, As with any fine wine, however, this material would need to sit, undisturbed, and age.

As we fast forward to 1996, we realized that the time was right to release this material. The technology of music has certainly changed since we began this project. Keep in mind that when we began, in 1981, rhythm machines were quite rare and audio samplers were unheard of. I like to think of this as the last sampling record to be recorded before samplers became readily available. I do find that this recording still has a freshness, intimacy and, yes, oddity which reflects the manner in which it was recorded.

Peter Gordon
Santa Fe, New Mexico 1996

yellow box 2

see also: david cunningham's parallel commentary

peter gordon - info
the yellow box -peter gordon, david cunningham

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© peter gordon 1996