Bunita Marcus – Lecture For Jo Kondo (99 Chants)

Bunita Marcus – Lecture For Jo Kondo (99 Chants)


I’m sorry Bunita, I’m pretty sure it’s not you, it’s me.

I’ve got to be honest with you, I’m struggling with this. I mean, REALLY struggling with it. I WANT to like it, especially when the sleeve notes lament “I grew up in a home that was very violent, very abusive and music was my escape from my background.

That’s the kind of thing that makes me think that I want – OUGHT even – to embrace such a work, one that was first written and performed in 1985, no less, by Bunita Marcus, a colleague and associate of John Cage and Morton Feldman. So I guess I’m missing something – I suspect this is something that fellow GIITTV contributor Nick Roseblade would have loved (though I can’t guarantee it, of course!) so perhaps it’s a pity that it’s me, and not him, reviewing it. Although whether anyone actually is that bothered about my apathy towards a 35 year old arrangement is anyone’s guess.

So anyway, here’s my take on it – the lyrics? Well they’re fine. I could happily read them on a page and would no doubt be struck by what’s on offer, although much of that was written by Nico Vassilakis anyway, as part of his ‘Lowered And Illuminated‘ work. The problem I have with it is more that the incidental music which serves as its backdrop is just not very interesting. I guess that’s kind of the point – you’re meant to focus more on the words, I think. But Bunita’s delivery feels rather like a meditation session, or a self help tape for those who are struggling to cope. Maybe that’s what it is. Or maybe I’m way off the mark. Post-minimalism is not something I have an extensive knowledge of (and yes, I can hear fans of the genre(?) spitting out the words “it’s not something you have ANY knowledge of mate, let alone “extensive” – they’re probably right too) but this….this is just dull, to my ears at least.

More interesting is the David August Deconstruction version that makes up side B. I can get more on board with that. It seems more celestial and otherworldly, like a musical comfort blanket that you cling to as you step into another dimension, if you will. A magical ride through a mystical land. Side B alone saves the day then, although at almost twenty minutes long, even that tested my patience somewhat. But it’s the reason it’s managed to get a rating that isn’t painfully low.

Note to self: don’t just say “yes” to free vinyl until you actually know what it is you’re reviewing. Right then, I’m off to eat my own toenails. That sounds like a world of fun compared to this.

5/10

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