Saturday, November 19, 2005

What is Spit? (new releases part 1)

Hell of a question really. Well, apart from being a place (the Aramoana spit, at the very mouth of Dunedin's Otago Harbour, where the artist in question once lived), an art project, a sound-emitting monstrosity, and a word that is plastered over every single piece of clothing and semi-stationary object in Ryan Cockburn's possession, it is also now a website. What was it Al Goldstein said about Ron Jeremy? - "Ronnie really is a walking train wreck: with a website". Yee-haw, yet another comparison we can make between Ryan Cockburn and Ron Jeremy!

UFM 011 Spit 'Trash Music Spitacular" CDR

Some projects take time to mellow, to pick up lint and absorb spilt coffee grounds. 'Trash Music Spitacular' was months and months in the making and was an exhibition (at the Segue Gallery this past April), a master's thesis, a group-participation extravaganza, a public relations bonanza (nice photos of the 'unusual artist' in all the papers) and finally now a CDR. And necessarily, no CDR can give you much beyond basic pointers when dealing with such a whirlwind of activity but lemme tell you a little about what went down. You had, firstly, a room and a corridor strewn - I mean, strewn - with sculptures etched with thought on the nature of recorded sound and the various traceries of musickal hardware. Then, every day for two weeks, performances. You had Kim Pieters painting 'notation' onto graph paper while RC 'played' the piece as the ink dried; a 'street horn' - an absolutely massive length of metal piping with a stylus welded onto one end that was then dragged up and down Burlington St; a pile of wrecked furniture, taller than a man, wound with piano wire and played with anything available by RC and Aliki, with harpist Katrina Thomson (Ray Off) jamming along; a cellist in evening dress alongside a ghetto blaster that was being buried under a four foot high mound of coal; two homies on the 16rpm decks, while a drunken idiot rambled on about the secret punk beginnings of Snoop Dogg... that's a few of 'em. Flux as hell, yes? Well, possibly the best thing I saw was one night in the bellringers chamber of the church next door (the oldest church in Dunedin). Cockburn had the actual bellringers of this place perform a 'chance operation' composition, with each ringer assigned a number and him rollin' the dice. Balls like big fluffy dice, this guy.

You'll hear a section of that on this disc - and much else besides. It's really nicely varied, concisely edited - most pieces are fairly short - and gives a good overview of a guy who's a pretty zoned and imaginative cracked-sound thinker. Ryan was initially known to us music-heads around here as the guy who cut records in half, glued 'em back together all wrong, then made a hell of an invigorating racket - there's none of that here (but plenty on Eye's Black Ice CDR, him being a member of that group). He's just, you know, got a lot to offer.

Nice screened cover as per usual, uh-huh, and a booklet with photos and whatnot.

Oh, and by the way, the other thing that he has in common with Ron Jeremy is that he's really hard to get on the telephone.


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