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Automatic Writing


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Performer Notes
  • Personnel: Robert Ashley (electronics); Mary Ashley (vocals).
  • Audio Mixer: Robert Ashley.
  • Liner Note Author: Robert Ashley.
  • Recording information: Ann Arbor, MI (1967-1979); Mastertone Recording Studios, New York, NY (1967-1979); Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University (1967-1979); The American Cultural Center, Paris, France (1967-1979); The Center For Contemporary Music, Mills College, Oakla (1967-1979).
  • Director: Alvin Lucier.
  • In 1979, experimental American composer Robert Ashley found himself dealing with a mild involuntary speech problem. Depressed and disenchanted, he began exploring the sonic implications of his condition. AUTOMATIC WRITING, composed over five years, came of Ashley's attempt at "forcing" spontaneous vocal sounds. This remarkable 46-minute piece is a mesmerizing subconscious dialogue between four distinct "characters": Ashley, intricate tape-splices of spoken French, a groaning, gurgling Polymoog, and the ribbon-fine melodious trickle of an organ. Unpredictable and endlessly fascinating, AUTOMATIC WRITING reveals music in minutiae and compelling narrative in accident.
  • Amid painfully intimate insinuations, Ashley has hidden the map to psychological geography aglow with a singular and utterly alien beauty. AUTOMATIC WRITING surrenders its secrets, but only with time, patience, and understanding. This reissue also includes excerpts from Ashley's earlier opera, 'That Morning After.' The phonetic dissection of "She Was A Visitor" (1967) simulates a dynamic beehive-choir effect, while the extremely unsettling "Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon" (1968) combines a woman's graphic account of sexual encounters with webs of glimmering chimes and sighing musique concrŠte "commentary."
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