arc light editions

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  • joan la barbara – voice is the original instrument – arc light editions

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    Voice Is The Original Instrument was the first record released by Joan La Barbara in 1976 on Wizard Records. This is the first time the original LP, with artwork, has been made available again. It has since become iconic as one of the initial examples of extended vocal techniques in experimental music. The human voice is the only instrument on the recordings. The works on Voice is the Original Instrument were some of Joan’s earliest compositions, researching the possibilities of the voice, in two rigorous ├ętudes, “Circular Song” and “Voice Piece: One-Note Internal Resonance Investigation”, and the more free-form “Vocal Extensions”, which uses live electronic processing. “My reason for producing the LP was to get my music out to the world beyond NYC and the major cities in which I was playing concerts,” she says. “At that time, Carla Bley and Michael Mantler had started JCOA/New Music Distribution Service which handled small independent labels, so there were quite a few artists in the NYC area who were producing their own albums and distributing them through that service.” Just out of college and living in a Soho loft in New York, Joan began playing shows in New York with jazz and rock musicians, and with those in the new music scene. “I did commercials, which, strangely enough, led me to Steve Reich,” she says. “A composer I was working with, Michael Sahl hired me to do some radio commercials and suggested me to Reich who was looking for singers who could imitate instruments, which was something I had been working on for some time and was part of my exploration of the voice. I worked with Reich on the development of “Drumming”, imitating the marimba.”


  • ingram marshall – fog tropes//gradual requiem – arc light editions

    out of stock

    Essential piece of modern composition from American composer Ingram Marshall, using tape delay, Serge synth and foghorn field recordings reissued on Arc Light Editions. Described by John Adams as “the antithesis of the human voice against the vast becalmed presence of the natural world.” Originally released in 1984 on Foster Reed’s influential New Albion label (which also released work by John Cage, Pauline Oliveros, and Morton Subotnik) it has not, until now, been made available again on vinyl. Fog Tropes began life as a series of field recordings of foghorns around the San Francisco Bay, made in 1979 for performance artist Grace Ferguson. These were then manipulated, added to, and expanded for performance with a brass section, which acts in sonorous call and answer with its industrial counterpart. In the record’s original sleevenotes, Marshall recalls: “A lot of people are reminded of San Francisco when they hear this piece, but not I. To me it is just about fog, and being lost in the fog. The brass players should sound as if they were off in a raft floating in the middle of a mist-enshrouded bay.” The tone is somber, the rhythm tidal, the sound world an affecting piece of tape collage and modern/minimal composition, with echoing brass, gulls and sirens in the mist. Gradual Requiem is dedicated to Marshall’s father, Harry Marshall. The piece is split into five parts, and includes a Serge synthesizer, with John Adams conducting. Tape delay and electronics are used in the sparse composition, a liminal spirit world, where familiar acoustic sound sources are processed lightly with electronic and tape manipulations and the hollow sound of the gambuh. Marshall began playing the two pieces together, later compiling them for this release. Together they mark a key moment in composition, bringing together environmental sound recordings, ethereal voices, brass and gambuh (Balinese flute), with Serge synthesizer and carefully executed tape manipulations.