Various Artists — Caged / Uncaged
(Cramps Records 0138652CRA, 1993/2002, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 1995-07-01
Produced by John Cale, Caged / Uncaged was created as the 'soundtrack' for the exhibition "Il Suono Rapido delle Cose" in Venice in 1993, and is – as the subtitle states – a Rock / Experimental homage to sonic experimentalist / pioneer / composer John Cage. Although many of Cage's albums are available on Cramps and it's associated labels, a thorough discussion of his lifetime of work and philosophies are certainly well beyond the scope of this publication. As the booklet states, this compilation of various New York artists might serve only to help bring Cage's attitude and beliefs about music to a broader audience. I believe most of the pieces here were written expressly for this project, in the spirit of Cage's work, although several seem a bit too familiar. Contributors include David Byrne, John Zorn, Elliott Sharp, Debbie Harry, Eugene Chadbourne and Jello Biafra, David Weinstein and Shelley Hirsch, Amy Denio, Lou Reed, Joey Ramone, Arto Lindsay and others. The tracks offered are separated by short spoken bits of poetry recorded by Cage in the late sixties and mid eighties in New York.
As one might expect, some of the material here works better than others, but overall the project is unique and interesting – maybe because there's no shortage of variety and none of the fourteen main tracks overstay their welcome. A six minute electronic piece by John Zorn contrasts with a 30 second collage of punk-rock and found sounds by Ars Hell and Mutt, or an electronically treated piece by Chris Stein. Chadbourne and Biafra's "Overpopulation and Art" leads into a three minute extract of Lou Reed's "Metal Machine Music," separated only by a fourteen second snippet of Cage himself. Two of the more engaging pieces are Amy Denio's "Dishwasher," where the rhythm of the wash cycle keeps time under the melody and lyrics, and Weinstein and Hirsch's haunting "Cheap Imitation." Overall, this disc – while initially somewhat of a challenge to the senses – does become more interesting and compelling with each successive listen. Highly recommended for the open minded.
ProgDay 2017 Announces First Bands – Flor de Loto, Sonar, and Infinien are the first three performers to be announced for the 2017 edition of the long-running ProgDay Festival. The 23rd ProgDay takes place Saturday and Sunday, September 2nd and 3rd, at Storybook Farm in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. » Read more
Allan Holdsworth RIP – Surely in the list of artists who have contributed to the sound of modern music, there is a special spot for guitarist Allan Holdsworth. His name is known to virtually every student of the instrument in jazz and rock, and his style has been so widely emulated that it's hardly worth mentioning anymore — we can just assume that every guitarist has Holdsworth as an influence. » Read more
Larry Coryell RIP – One of the greats of jazz guitar has left us at the age of 73. Larry Coryell was one of the founding figures of jazz fusion, but produced a significant body of work the bridged many styles. His group Eleventh House provided a unique take on the combination of jazz and rock that was distinct from contemporaries such as Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and Weather Report. » Read more
John Wetton RIP – After a long battle with colon cancer, singer and bassist John Wetton has died at the age of 67. As an integral member of such bands as King Crimson, UK, and Asia, his was one of the distinctive voices in progressive rock, lending a human touch to often difficult music. » Read more
Seaprog Announces First Artists for 2017 – The organizers of the Seaprog Festival in Seattle have announced the first set of confirmed performers for the 2017 festival. The best known names are Jack o' the Clock and Zero Times Everything, but a host of other bands are featured, mostly from the Northwest. The festival will take place June 2-4, 2017. » Read more