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DRAM (originally the Database of Recorded American Music), is a non-profit source for institutional research of contemporary and historical composed and improvised music. The database grew out of the original Anthology of Recorded Music project which, in 1976, released a set of 100 LPs of American music to libraries all over America in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial.
In keeping with that spirit, DRAM features some of the work of America's most important contemporary composers and performers, including Robert Ashley, Phill Niblock, Pauline Oliveros, Elliott Carter and others through partnerships with such labels as Mode, XI, Pogus, Lovely, Deep Listening, Firehouse 12, Porter, Edition Wandelweiser, B-Boim, Albany, New World Records, CRI, and others...as well as a growing number of recordings brought on through archival preservation and curation, including upcoming archives from Niblock's Experimental Intermedia, early Sun Ra recordings curated by John Corbett, live performances from Mills College, and Ben Hall's amazing collection of Southern Gospel 45s with an introductory essay by Rick Moody.
DRAM, which has only been available to college libraries until now, is exploring options for individual subscription to have streaming access to all the great music featured here. If you are interested contact Nate Wooley at [email protected] for more information.
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natewooley on 09/19/2012 at 10:00AM
Music is a social sport, right? The perfect and classical example of the ego being subsumed in some mystical force of nature to be tapped into, waded in, or some other such water metaphor. The most maniacally individual artists have been known to come together in, depending on how you choose to view it, large multiple pseudo-marriages or micro artistic city-states. The assumption is that all this is only made possible through the socially binding properties of making music.
Is this the only model, though? Is it conceivable that the members of Steely Dan are willing to put up with Donald Fagen because they believein the demi-god of rhythm and pitch? It's most likely that the ubiquitous string section behind Kanye West for every appearance on televisiondidn't show up to play octave whole notes to invoke Kokopelli. These two examples point to a model that is slightly more 'pragmatic'.
Artistic model and economic model may find a middle path, however. As utopian as it sounds in this day and age of "occupy" everything, it may be more possible than ever to create a musical family that is as involved with getting each other's work out to a mass public in interesting and effective ways, as it is in making intensely personal and groundbreaking musical documents.
A good example of this model in action is Shinkoyo Collective, a group of Oberlin Conservatory grads that have, at one time or another, been involved in booking tours, operating venues, and putting out the records of its members, to the mutual benefit of all the groups involved.
Now spread all over the US, the members of Shinkoyo are maintaining a very high level of output as a truly egalitarian collective, something not to be scoffed at. Members include electro-acoustic-radical composers like Mario Diaz de Leon and Doron Sadja, as well as beautifully weird pop groups like Skeletons.
In the fall issue of Sound American, I sat down with three of the New York members of Shinkoyo (Diaz de Leon, Sadja, and Skeletons front manMatt Mehlan) and talked about how the collective started, how it has changed, and how it has maintained its energy as the members dispersed physically and artistically.
natewooley on 06/21/2012 at 02:30PM
I went to Oakland in January of 2012 to interview the two remaining primary members of the League of Automatic Music Composers, John Bischoff and Tim Perkis. I was mostly familiar with their solo work before starting my job at DRAM. Tim is one of the greatest improvising electronicist in the US, working with John Butcher, Gino Robair, ROVA, and others. Bischoff creates beautifully constructed, almost sculptural works of electronic sound. Although I had spent time with recordings of both of them, it did nothing to prepare me for the late 1970s work they had embarked on with Jim Horton and the LAMC.
The League was one of those rare instances where a group of people came together with no initial goal of production. They didn't initially form to make recordings or tour. They simply wanted to see what they could do with a couple of early Kim1 computers and a mess of wires. Three guys seeing what would happen if you did the "wrong" thing, as Perkis put it in our interview.
This is the kind of group that has always inspired me. I could be overly romantic and call it a bunch of guys in search of the truth, but that wouldn't even be it. This is a group of people that weren't out for the truth, nor were they initially out to change music. All they wanted was to see what happened if you plugged this thing into that thing.
This may be hyperbole, but it's the "let's see what happens" attitude of these kinds of groups that DOES change the world. That's totally exciting and something that I constantly hope is still deeply ingrained in the American psyche: the ability to give up the non-essential desires of producing anything but maintaining a profound desire to experiment. It's what gets us somewhere as a culture and it's vitally important.
That is what the second issue of our quarterly journal Sound American is about, groups of people coming together to see what happens if they do things "wrong", be it the technological experimentation of the LAMC, the brutal honesty of the BSC and its desire to find a large group improvisational language, or the ability of Shinkoyo Collective to shift and change their business model during a time of great turbulence in the art world.
Sound American is proud to accentuate the work of these kinds of collectives, not only because they are interesting and inspiring as social collectives, but because their fucking music sounds GREAT! If it was simply a group of people getting together to posit ideas on how they could approach extending the limits of what they do, or putting their ideas into a half-assed practice than it would be a pointless exercise. With all three collectives, however, they have not only found different ways to communicate and operate efficiently as a group, but they've been artistically very successful, and that deserves praise and attention.
Please visit our new quarterly website....www.soundamerican.org for interviews with members of Shinkoyo, a podcast of the interview with Tim Perkis and John Bischoff mentioned above, and excerpts of the great new publication BSC: Manual, as well as streaming "mixtapes" of the music of each group and the opportunity to donate money and get an individual subscription to DRAM (which now comes with some great gifts!)
Also, in that spirit of networking, follow us on twitter @SoundAmerican and like our facebook page
It may not change the world, but it's a start.