In another attempt to explore the intersection of music and visual art (see also), I give you a rare Los Angeles Free Music Society CD, on which Paul McCarthy plays alongside fellow artists John Duncan and Tom Recchion, photographer Fredrik Nilsen, and noise pioneer Joe Potts (of Airways). Included with an edition of The Lowest Form of Music box set, this CD includes a 30-minute organ drone by Potts, a recording of a radio “event” by the BDR Ensemble (Michael Delle Donne-Bhennet, John Duncan, and Tom Recchion), and some indescribable weirdness from Extended Organ (Joe Potts, Fredrik Nilsen, Paul McCarthy, and Tom Recchion). I’m including a few notes on the recordings below.
“3 CHANNEL CHORDS” was produced in an attempt to create an undulating mass of sound which seemed at first to be static drone while actually being a complex constantly mutating entity. The music was recorded in these separate takes on three tracks. Each track has sixteen channels of “CHOPPED OPTIGAN” run through a stereo mixer with the slide pots arranged to form a sine-wave pattern. Overt the course of thirty-plus minutes the sliders are constantly adjusted so that the sine pattern ripples across the mixer and then returns to the starting position. This formula is repeated on three separate channels, and then mixed down to stereo. I performed it and Rick Potts engineered it in his studio/living room. This recording marks the debut of the CHOPPED OPTIGAN.
— Joe Potts
BDR Ensemble: Michael Delle Donne-Bhennet / John Duncan / Tom Recchion * KPFK 90.7 FM-Los Angeles * Sponsored by Close Radio * December 1, 1977 * Duration 80 Minutes
Station Event was intended to use as a medium of communication rather than one of broadcast. It was performed live over Close Radio from two separate rooms: Delle Donne Bhennet (woodwinds and percussion), Recchion (invented instruments, piano and available materials) performed in KPFK’s Studio A. Paul McCarthy joined them toward the end of the work. From the control room, Duncan asked for and monitored phoned-in responses to what the ensemble was doing. Telephone calls and music from Studio A were mixed at the discretion of Steve Tyler, night engineer at KPFK. The two rooms were sound-separated, Tyler alone was able to hear the complete broadcast at its source.
— Tom Recchion