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andrewcsmith on 04/29/2011 at 10:32AM

Table of the Elements: The Copernicium Festival

Image from Robert Longo's Pictures for Music (1979), which will be shown with a performance of Rhys Chatham's Guitar Trio on May 13, 2011, at ISSUE Project Room.

The label Table of the Elements lives up to its name: nothing more than elemental, and nothing short of encyclopedic. They’ve released a 4-CD box set by Tony Conrad titled “Early Minimalism,” and they’ve kept available a number of truly foundational works by Rhys Chatham, among them “Two Gongs” and “Die Donnergotter.” The concept of cover art was reinvented in the early age of the CD; a 128 page book was included with the 7-disc Charley Patton revival collection “Screamin’ and Hollerin’ the Blues,” where used copies fetch around $200 on Amazon. The list goes on and on, with a dual focus on the avant-garde and on so-called primitive American musics: from John Fahey’s fingerpicking to Zeena Parkins’ electro-acoustic harp.

But the periodic table is only so large, and eighteen years later the label has reached the end of it. To celebrate this occasion, the label has assembled a three-night Copernicium Festival (May 12 – 14, $20 a night or $15 for ISSUE members) as a massive sendoff, with artists ranging from Stephen O’Malley, to Jonathan Kane’s February, to Tony Conrad, to Zeena Parkins, to a performance of Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Trio with a small guitar army. It’ll traverse minimalism, blues, death metal, free improvisation, film, and visual art (with projections of Robert Longo’s Pictures for Music from 1979).

I’ve uploaded tracks from Jonathan Kane’s February releases February and Jet Ear Party, as well as a recording of Zeena Parkins’ March 2010 duo with violinist Jon Rose. The mix also includes a track from Peg Simone’s performance at ISSUE which later appeared on her Table of the Elements release Secrets from the Storm, and a live performance by death-sludge-metal artists Sunn O))), whose Stephen O’Malley will headline the final night of the series. Check out the attached mix, and come by any or all of the three nights to celebrate the conclusion of a great label.

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katya-oddio on 05/04/11 at 08:51PM
The name "andrewcsmith," one of my favorite FMA curators, at the top of a post brings me a smile and the expectation of avant garde and serious experimental works from the Issue Room. Just when I think I know to ready myself for "challenging" sounds, the Issue Room throws me a curve ball. As backwards as this statement may sound, despite being far more approachable than expected, the Table of Elements collection is a fun ride! Thanks for always surprising us, Mr. Smith!
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