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Filed under: Art

Listening to a Tape - B - Interview with Charles Rice Goff III and Robert Silverman

Fog comes, fog goes. It must be looking for a place to stay. The sea is turning into its summerly color azure. Birds are out; birds are loud. The lemon tree has flowers, and oily-green new branches sprout with fervor from its main stem. The table is still full of scratches of paper, magazines, things to write and stamp with. There is a bottle of water right in my view. It contains water, we got from a well.

Stress related disability claim

To live in a country that sent men to the Moon. And now it has this Thunderbird model plane that serves as a taxi. Rich people can buy a ticket, embark on a round trip to around the corner's outer space. Point a gun at the television set. Tank top existence, wife beater. Five television programs run at the same time when the windows are open on a steaming hot Summer day. Take a pair of binoculars and stage a rear window re-make in the bedroom. It's too hot to sleep anyway. A fire brigade arrives, joined by a police squad. Flashlights run over roofs and along walls. A cascade of sirenes overflows the street.
The binocular pressed against the eyes, leaving all sounds knock at the door, no way they get in, and look for a slowly evolving still life scene. Nothing happening is the best you can get. Something like a picture in a magazine of the 50s: young happy mum in an advertisement.

Where do these sounds come from. It is the memory of a walk through a music school; kids practising, young women singing up and down the scales; is it the tuning moment of a symphony orchester, a gamble hall with blinking lights. It is an attempt to make contemporary music thinking about all the Schoenbergs, Stockhausens and
Schopenhauers in our life and then fail because it just makes one laugh out hysterically hearing the first results, so best is to blow it up completely, and turn the piece into a pandora's box filled with all the sounds an omnipresent ear would pick up in San Francisco. And then don't close the lid.

History climbs back along a family line. Know the material shoes and shirts of former generations were made from, and you know enough. A can of corned beef, unopened, bought on 25 April 1935, here, I keep it on a shelf in the kitchen. Sometimes I look at it, and lose any sense of time, of the present time. There is more then one neural memory lane. We can walk them all. The film goes backward. That's a nice image. Look out of the window and see time flow in the opposite direction. People walk backwards into their youth and disappear in the womb; everything concludes in and onto itself, finds its essence, hears the spirits talk that cross the Native American Dream. Indian Preservation, a mammoth ride. A Timothy Leary book for one dollar. It's time for a pop song.

Robert: I stand naked facing the dawn of the internet. Multi-task or die. Emails are a novelty, but they keep growing in number and won’t leave me alone. The digitisation of society is well under way. Welcome to the stress of the computer age. The sonic pallet used for this piece is not unlike TV cable channels being disbursed to the cosmos via optical fibers..

Charles: When many things are going on all at the same time, it can overwhelm an unprepared mind. It can overwhelm a prepared mind too. This recording is overflowing with inputs: Electronic guitars, a sampling keyboard, a modified casio keyboard, a toy piano, a tape of reversed vocals, two phonographs playing records backwards/forwards/off-center/slow/fast, a tape of modified sounds that Herd Of The Ether Space member George Gibson had recorded on a canoe trip in British Columbia, etc.

Looking back into the late September of 1989, when this piece was recorded, there seemed to be a lot of things overwhelming my mind. My living situation and my financial (survival) status had both suddenly changed as a result of my lover moving out a few months previous. She left me quite unexpectedly, broke my heart without warning. I actually went to the emergency hospital because of irregular heart beats on multiple occasions during the three months previous to this September.

I had firemen come to my apartment one night and discover that I had no pulse for a while. I was forced to move my entire recording studio into my bedroom, so I could offer the living room space to a friend to share the rent and expenses. In that bedroom recording studio setting, I had to angle my bed upright toward the ceiling to allow space for myself and other musicians to set up equipment and perform in there.

Stressful? Certainly challenging. The name for this piece was actually picked out of a notebook that I kept -- a notebook which I still keep, in fact -- for writing down phrases that I randomly hear which strike me as potential song titles. At the time that I named this recording, I had no idea that years later I would marry a woman who would make her living dealing with disability claims and other such social welfare matters. While you mention here the aspects of this recording which bring you back in time, for me, the song title sort of predicted my future. I am still married to my social worker wife, and our loving relationship has indeed lowered my overall stress levels over course of many years.

Desparately waltzing with Spock

Disparate, desperate. After all it is folk music. Real Americans don't need foreign countries; there is enough foreign country in each one of them. Disparately, sometimes desperately chewed into a new existence driven by a force to look forward, knowing that all bridges are burned. There is no way to return, even if the horizon is in flames. Flames produced by the A-bomb or by napalm, flames caused by the exhaustion pipe of a deranged Corvette.

Big cattle move over the prairies. Modern day cowboys talk in their walkie-talkie. Tons of living beef walk slowly to the slaughterhouses, and in the evening we drink, we dance on the wooden floor, the band plays a waltzer. Mary is a fine American girl. Her grandparents came from the east of Europe. Some killings going on there. But we live in outer space. Look that guy with the wicked ears, he is my favourite, Spock, his name. But she has only eyes for him, doesn't give a damn about rockets and the future and planets and stuff, and the scent of leather turns her on. She wants to waltz.

A fight, a bottle, screams from the parking lot. A drunk guy still wearing his marching band uniform, blood on his face walks in, sits at the bar, orders a whiskey. Barman talks backwards, Pluto and Neptune conjugate, visions of Madonna, her big eyes and her big boobs and her chewy chewy gummy yummy petticoat voice, someone should turn the radio of. The news shows an exploding space shuttle. The explosion remains unheard.

Charles: "Space" has always been one of the key themes in the recordings produced by the Herd. This theme sometimes shows up simply in the "spacey" qualities of the music itself. Sometimes it is evidenced by the tendency of listeners to "space out" when listening to the music. Sometimes there is actual verbiage or lyrics relating to "outer space," "inner space," etc. in the music. (By the way, I am using the term "music" for something that certain people might argue is not music at all.)

As for this piece, one of the elements that led to its name was a record album produced by Peter Pan Records that relates a Star Trek story about the Enterprise's encounter with a "being of pure sound." This story was never featured in a Star Trek television show nor movie. The record sleeve gatefold opens into a comic-book-style version of the story too. There is a lot of noise that genuinely threatens the well-being of the Enterprise crew during this encounter, all of which is revealed via dramatic audio on the record album. Eventually the Trekkers communicate with the "Sound Being" by manically improvising some modern classical sounds on a big keyboard instrument which has to be moved up from somewhere to the ship's bridge, and, by the end of the story, all is well (in harmony?) again.

Listeners of the Herd's "Desperately Waltzing With Spock" hear bits and pieces of this story throughout, although, because I was randomly dropping the record stylus into various spots, hand turning the record forwards and backwards, etc., the story is presented in an extremely cryptic manner.

This record album is similarly mixed into a couple of other Herd Of The Ether Space recordings as well. The epic 45-minute piece: "Claws Longer Than Your Middle Finger" on the cassette album "Other Than Random Modulation" (1990) immediately comes to mind as an example. The "waltz" aspect of this recording comes across (barely) through the triple meter of some of the modern classical music played by the Enterprise crew (and heard on the record album) and (similarly, barely) through one of the modified Casio keyboard's presets: "Waltz".

Robert: Imagine yourself sleepwalking – no – sleep-waltzing on a tight rope. Your sleep-state and waking-states have been reversed. Fiction is now reality. TV shows you once watched as a child now surface to your consciousness unexpectedly in random patterns pressing against your eardrums. Accept this.