GEN KEN MONTGOMERY
Este duplo album reune pecas compreendidas entre 1981 e 2001, regra geral utilizando os sons do quotidiano numa grande metropole como Nova Iorque.Esses sons podem ser reconheciveis, procurando Montgomery - um antigo "mailartist" que comecou por se notabilizar como artista sonoro no circuitosubterraneo das cassetes - que objectos como um cortador de gelo ou umradiador sejam ouvidos de maneira diferente ("amplificando a suafamiliaridade", diz ele) ou que sejam completamente abstraidos da suaorigem, tornando-se impossivel visualiza-los ou identifica-los. Apesar denunca ter estado associado com a "New York School" de John Cage, DavidTudor, Alvin Lucier, David Behrman, Gordon Mumma ou Ron Kuivila, e desseuniverso que provem este autodidacta. Como alguns deles, notabilizou-se noque ficou conhecido como "do-it-yourself electronics", construindo as suasproprias maquinas de producao audio. Esta edicao congrega um primeiro discocom materiais de estudio e outro com registos ao vivo, sendo estes ultimos,curiosamente, os mais "musicais". Com titulos bastante elucidativos quantoas fontes escolhidas, como "Egnekn's Fridge - The Beat of the Refrigerator"ou "The Aquarium Fishtank Symphony", e apesar de algumas "construcoes" nosparecerem algo bizarras, este e o mundo acustico em que vivemos, so que comoutras proporcoes, associacoes ineditas e imprevisiveis e umacontextualizacao bem diferente. Deslumbrante, em suma.

Pondfloorsample, XI Records

Rui Eduardo Paes
Jornalista, critico de musica e ensaista
Journalist and music writer
www.rep.no.sapo.pt

 

GEN KEN MONTGOMERY - PONDFLOORSAMPLE (2CD by XI Records)
It seems as if things go well for Gen Ken Montgomery. Running his Generator Sound Art label, seeing his music being published more and more and now this overview of works from the last 20 years. Gen Ken founded the Generator, a gallery for sound in New York in the eighties, started also back then record labels as Generations Unlimited and Pogus and also played music, sometimes in close association with Conrad Schnitzler. The work of Gen Ken has two distinct areas. The first one is his use of synthesizers in his early work and the second is his interest in sound generated from machines (an ice-crusher, a lamination machine etc.) in his later work. Per track one gets a detailed description in the booklet (which is always nice if you are looking for nice ideas to explore yourself - do try this at home would be a good motto for this CD) and on the first CD one gets mainly his studio work, although the second piece on disc one ('Father Demo Swears') is a 'live in studio' piece. Gen Ken sets his concept and then explores the possibilities of his concept and records the execution of the concept. That makes up the soundpiece. The live CD has a strange opening track, which last 30 seconds of inaudible material, but is followed by a lengthy piece 'Droneskipclickloop', a highly minimal pulse piece. If you think Goem is minimal, then I wonder what you think of these fifty minutes. I at least love it. The second piece uses an aquarium pump, a fish tank with plastic fish, a fisher price sewing machine, an eggbeater and an ice crushing machine. A nicely intense piece which shifts around with the various sound sources. The lamination of crisp bread in a live action closes of the last track. In all a very nice anthology of one of the more interesting composers of every day sound. (FdW)
Address: www.xirecords.com

 

The discography of sound artist {$Gen Ken Montgomery} runs a mile long, but it mostly consists of private releases, very limited editions and compilation tracks. It was time a label found the guts to release a retrospective of his work and {@XI}, the outlet of the Experimental Intermedia Foundation, catered in November 2002 with a double CD set that will remain in print. The starting point was probably the live performance of {&3Droneskipclickloop2} that took place at the E.I.F. in March 1998 and lasted 52 minutes. It occupies most of disc two and synthesizes Montgomery1s artistic interests: domestic sounds (radiators, refrigerators, film projectors), randomness (in a computer track) and creative spatialization, since the original was a multi-speaker affair and involved four CDs of pre-recorded material played back simultaneously -- drone, skip, click and loop. The whole project is exuberantly rich and captivating, despite its length. This disc is rounded up with two more live pieces, {&3The Aquarium Fishtank Symphony2} (1999, self-describing) and {&3Knackerbrot Action2} (2000) in which crispbread is sent through a laminator. Disc one offers a retrospective of studio works in chronological order, starting with 19821s short {&3Static/Hiss,2} one of Montgomery1s first pieces. {&3Father Demo Swears,2} a half-hour piece from 1989, is the most complex thing on this disc, as it involves four cassettes playing simultaneously, a microphone hanging outside the window, voice, violin, and {$David Lee Myers}1s home-made feedback devices. All the other tracks are of short duration (between one and six minutes) and focus on Montgomery1s fascination with the sounds that make up our everyday acoustical environment -- titles like {&3Radiator I,2} {&3Bath Drain,2} {&3Bird Eating2} or {&3Fusebox2} say it all. These snapshots reveal the surprising richness of our surroundings and teach us to listen more closely... and maybe shut up once in a while.

Francois Couture

 

RECENT FAVES FROM THE WFMU NEW BIN

GEN KEN MONTGOMERY - Pondfloorsample (XI Records)
Brooklyn sound artist Gen Ken Montgomery has adapted an amazing style to the documentation of hidden sounds in everyday objects, as well as showcasing the unusual colors of sound that may be ordinarily glossed over. Many FMU listeners were treated a few years back to some of his self-released CD-Rs, including the self-explanatory Sounds of Lamination, and "8-Track Magic", which basically was the entire play of a Led Zep 8-Track totally dragging and warbling through a messed-up player. Fortunately, this new 2CD set on Phill Niblock's label will allow a broader glimpse at the many, many excellent sound experiments of Montgomery, who has ties to other kindred spirits Chop Shop, Conrad Schnitzler, and Arcane Device. Like these artists, the sounds generated often come from very visual and altered sources; homemade primitive electronics, amplified egg beaters, multiple-wired speakers, miked birdfeeds, rigged cassettes, radiators, even dying moths became sound sources for Montgomery. His approach is very Cagean, yet, Montgomery never schooled to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Lucier, Mumma etc., instead offering very refreshing and non-academic glimpses into a unique and thankfully-now overviewed sound world to dive in.

Brian Turner WFMU

The Magic of Ordinary Sounds

Gen Ken Montgomery is a name most familiar to those of us who were active during the so-called "cassette culture" of the 80s and early 90s. That was the heyday of bedroom musicians producing their own cassettes and trading them, and small mail-order distributors like RRRecords, Cause & Effect, and Sound of Pig were also prevalent. I encountered Montgomery's work on various tapes of his own as well as compilations. I liked his focus on noisy yet gentle soundscapes, which he often produced by starting with recordings of ordinary objects.

This retrospective collection is presented as two CDs, a studio disc and a live disc ­ although he cheats and puts a "live in the studio" recording on the studio disc, thereby breaking his own rules. The first disc, containing the studio recordings, is dominated by that studio-live track, the 31-minute "Father Demo Swears". Montgomery made it using violin, voice, and a microphone outside the window, processed live using feedback inventions created by David Lee Myers. The piece builds from a collection of chittering, metallic grinding sounds into a monstrous tornado that swells and falls amidst accented noises and sounds picked up by the window microphone. I particularly liked the happenstance dog barking amidst the clatter and clutter. "Father Demo Swears" is a uniquely dramatic recording which would serve as an excellent soundtrack to a silent film about decay. A voice insinuates itself halfway through as the other noises spread out to make way to particularly creepy effect. It reaches a horror-movie level of intensity towards the end, with echoing, cascading tones and amplified traffic sounds competing for space.

Following on from that epic piece we get a number of tracks sourced from environmental-type recordings of objects like radiators, refrigerators, a bath drain, and a film projector (without film). Some are processed to become walls of rumbling, buzzing sound, while others are left alone, becoming little sound windows into day-to-day life. As the artist says in the liner notes, "I am delighted when sounds familiar to me transform into other sonic realities for other ears," which is a fine explanation for those who might read about this and wonder why anyone would release recordings of, say, an egg slicer or a laminator. One of the best examples of this is "Fusebox-Contemplating Columbus," a recording of a wall-mounted fusebox in Hamburg. Even with the knowledge of what's been recorded, the sounds remain mysterious and rather compelling.

The second CD is the live disc, although again Montgomery breaks his rules by starting it with the thirty-second "Pondfloorsample and more," which is completely silent, representing as it does a conceptual component. During a short sabbatical from recording, Montgomery continued to correspond with other artists, and instead of sending them tapes, he sent them jewel cases or cassette cases filled with samples from the bottom of a pond near where he was staying. This short piece stands in for those silent samples.

The bulk of the second CD is the 52-minute "Droneskipclickloop," performed in 1998 using the sound of a film projector and prerecorded CDs mixed and moved throughout the speakers. The resulting soundscape mixes the clicks of the film projector, field recordings of birds and other sounds, and noises both mechanical and organic. It travels a number of different places, led by an ever-varying collection of sounds. At some points, it's quite natural-sounding, such as when led by sounds of birds or other field recordings; at others it's extremely synthetic, dominated by mechanistic clicks or electronic hums. "The Aquarium" is a twenty-minute performance from 1999 using an aquarium pump, toy sewing machine, and other implements, while "Knackerbrot Action" appropriately concludes the CD with just a couple of minutes from a live recording of Swedish crispbread (knackerbrot) being laminated.

This might be an ideal opportunity to discuss why these types of recordings qualify as music, and what role there is for recordings of this nature, but I'll keep this short. The magic here is Montgomery's ability to hone in on the microscopic details of a sound which would ordinarily be lost amidst the distractions of everyday life. By drawing attention to these noises, Montgomery lets us hear those details as the intriguing sounds that they are. When the sounds are left on their own, they're fascinating; when Montgomery mixes them with other noises, they're placed in a different context and end up occupying an entirely new place. Combining artificial and organic sounds is a common musique concrete approach, of course, which Montgomery approaches with great success. But oddly enough the simpler pieces are the most successful, because the individual sounds have enough personality to stand out on their own.

By Mason Jones

Dusted Magazine

 

From Absurd - Greece
[gen ken montgomery I guess needs no special intros, being one of the most legendary figures of the us network, the founding guy behind the generator space but also one of the founding members of the legendary generations unlimited label too. since late 70's that he's been doing his own soundscapes he has issued only but a few tapes and a couple of cds/lps. some of which may or may not be of my taste but to be honest I was always interested in hearing more of his work. "sound of lamination" on firework a couple of years ago for instance may have been good but that good regarding to what I was expecting to listen from ol'boy gen ken, the recent "icebreaker" 3"cd on staalplaat was great but little and luckily xi now offers us a great chance to get a better idea of his work (a great part of which slowly starts getting reissued on generator too). "pondfloorsample" is a 2ble (yes! 2ble!) cd (at the price of 1) that came out a couple of months ago and consists of recordings which span a really great period from early 80's till today.  some may be short extracts lasting for between a minute of 3-4,  which the way are constructed can be heard as part of the whole or the whole itself as well. included as well are 2 mostrous pieces of his on the first disc the amazing "father demo swears" which was done in david lee myers's studio (aka mr arcane device) where gen ken besides the use of the studio techniques added also sounds recorded directly out of the studio's window. the other on the 2nd disc called "droneskipclickloop" which lasts for nearly 53 minutes and was recorded at the experimental intermedia in 98. a disc whose sound is full of a great ambiance, noisy at times but shows I believe the greatest part of gen ken's sound art/installation work. is also extremely interesting the creative way he uses/transforms everyday household objects to his soundscapes, to tell you the truth, I'm always interested in people who manage to transform everyday things into their work (yes, seems am a great voicecrack fan) and am sure that most ofyou will fall in love with this one! also if you were ever into the cassette network of the 80's/early 90's then I assume that you will love this release twice such as I did!

www.xirecords.org and you can get more infos on generator, its activities/releases at www.generatorsoundart.org]

 

Gen Ken Montgomery: Pondfloorsample 2CD

Brooklyn sound artist Gen Ken Montgomery has been around since the so-called "cassette culture" of the 80s and early 90s. Gen Ken founded the Generator, a gallery for sound in New York in the eighties, started also back then record labels as Generations Unlimited and Pogus and also played music, sometimes in close association with Conrad Schnitzler. These two discs entitled Pondfloorsample represent some of Gen Ken Montgomery's sound art and compositional work from 1981-2001. This overview might enable Gen Ken Montgomery to reach a larger audience. It looks like he is specialized in the documentation of hidden sounds in everyday and ordinary objects, as well as showcasing and over drawing attention to the unusual colors of sound that may be ordinarily glossed. Examples of the devices this artist uses are: homemade primitive electronics, radiators, amplified egg beaters, an aquarium pump, miked birdfeeds and rigged cassettes. He translates this musically in noisy yet gentle soundscapes, reminding of Chop Shop and Arcane Device. Although he first disc of Pondfloorsample contains 15 tracks, the album is dominated by the 31-minute studio-live track entitled Father Demo Swears. Montgomery made it using violin and a microphone outside the window, processed live using feedback inventions created by David Lee Myers. The piece slowly builds from a collection of chittering, scraping sounds, with a barking dog and human voice amidst the noise, into a monstrous tornado that swells and falls amidst grinding noises and static sounds picked up by the window microphone. The second disc features the 52-minute track entitled Droneskipclickloop, which is rather important and different from all remaining tracks. The composition starts with a sort of heavy rain in the forest, before a very minimal pulsating beat takes over, which really turns into a heavy drone in the end. This excellent composer shows us the wide range of possibilites of electronic music and noise and proves us this overview that he is one of the more interesting composers of every day sound.

Phosphor Magazine
c/o Paul Bijlsma
Heinrich Rollerstrasse 8 VH
10405 Berlin
0049-30-44356459

 

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