La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela :: The Black Album 1969

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Young & Zazeela recorded their first full length album in Munich for Heiner Friedrich’s Edition X label. Released as a limited edition of 2000, the first 98 were signed & dated by the artists. Side one is a section of “Map of 49’s Dream”, performed by Young with sinewave drone & voice, with vocal accompaniment by Zazeela. Side two is an extract from “Study for the Bowed Disc” featuring the duo bowing a gong given to them by sculptor Robert Morris. Morris had made it for his dance piece “War” & asked Young to play it for the performance. Afterwards Morris presented the gong to Young, who began experimenting on it with double bass bows. Young recommended the listener turn the musick up (PLAY FUCKING LOUD), the resulting low drone being a spiritual tool. For the album artwork, Marian Zazeela embedded her calligraphic lettering & designs in black. The point is to focus on her artwork while concentrating on the vocal/sinewave drones of Young’s dream music.

The Black Record is actually entitled 31 VII 69 10:26 – 10:49 PM Munich from Map of 49’s Dream: The Two Systems of Eleven Sets of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery; 23 VIII 64 2:50:45-3:11 AM the Volga Delta from Studies in The Bowed Disc. It is called more simply the Black Record after the album artwork done by La Monte’s wife Marian Zazeela.

The Black Record is an early work by one of the most influential composers of contemporary music, La Monte Young. Young has been described as the most influential living composer today.

La Monte Young’s use of long tones and exceptionally high volume has been extremely influential — notably on John Cale’s contribution to The Velvet Underground’s sound — and with Young’s associates: Tony Conrad, Jon Hassell, Rhys Chatham, Michael Harrison, Henry Flynt, Charles Curtis (musician), and Catherine Christer Hennix. Young’s students also include Arnold Dreyblatt and Daniel James Wolf.
The album Dreamweapon: An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music by the band Spacemen 3 is influenced by La Monte Young’s concept of “Dream Music,” evidenced by their inclusion of his notes on the jacket.

Lou Reed mentions (and misspells) La Monte Young’s name on the cover of his album Metal Machine Music: “Drone cognizance and harmonic possibilities vis a vis Lamont Young’s Dream Music”
Drone rock pioneer Dylan Carlson has stated Young’s work as being a major influence to him.
The Fall included a song called High Tension Line on their album Shift-Work. The chorus line is “High Tension Line – Step Down”.

It has also been notably influential on John Cale’s contribution to The Velvet Underground’s sound; Cale has been quoted as saying “LaMonte [Young] was perhaps the best part of my education and my introduction to musical discipline.”

Brian Eno was similarly influenced by Young’s work, calling him “the daddy of us all.” In 1981, Eno referred to X for Henry Flynt by saying “It really is a cornerstone of everything I’ve done since”. He had himself performed the piece as a student in 1960.

Andy Warhol attended the 1962 première of the static composition by La Monte Young called Trio for Strings and subsequently created his famous series of static films including KissEat, and Sleep (for which Young was initially commissioned to provide music). Uwe Husslein cites film-maker Jonas Mekas, who accompanied Warhol to the Trio premiere and claims that Warhol’s static films were directly inspired by the performance.In 1963 Warhol, Young, and Walter De Maria briefly formulated a musical group, which included lyrics written by Jasper Johns.

Album Liner Notes:

Side A — 00:00 — 31 VII 69 10h26min – 10h49min PM

This work was recorded at the date and time indicated in the title, at Galerie Heiner Friedrich, München 31 VII 69 10:26-10:49 PM – is a section of the longer work: Map Of 49’s Dream The Two Systems Of Eleven Sets Of Galactic Intervals Ornamental Lightyears Tracery. Play this side at 33 1/3 rpm only.

Side B — 23:14 — 23 VIII 64 2h50min45seg – 3h11min AM The Volga Delta

We recorded this gong duet in our studio in New York City on the date and time indicated in the title. It is a section of a larger work: Studies In The Bowed Disc begun in September 1968. To listen to the live performance, playback at 33 1/3 rpm. However, this side may be played back at any slower constant speed down to 8 1/3 rpm, i.e., 16 2/3 rpm which is available on some turntables.

Sources:

  • wikipedia, La Monte Young
  • Mutant Sounds, “La Monte Young, The Black Album”, http://mutant-sounds.blogspot.com/2007/01/la-monte-young-black-record-lp-1969-usa.html
  • Digital Meltdown, “La Monte Young, The Black Album”, https://wordpress.com/post/theincubator.live/3069
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