WTM #1051: Blurt Alive Pousseur Dead


WreCk thIs MeSs Radio Patapoe 88.3 

Amsterdam ~ Ethno-Illogical Psycho-Radiographies

09 March 2009 // 17.00-19.00

Henri Pousseur 23 June 1929 – 6 March 2009 R.I.P.

Ted Milton 1885-??: Long live TM

Anything too stupid to be said is sung.

• Voltaire

Voix de la Ville > Henri Pousseur [Acousmatrix IV / BVHaast]
Nights Before > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander ]
Aboule ton Fric > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander]
Dyslexia > Blurt [The Factory Recordings / LTM ]
Shoot and Shout > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander]
Forget About For Whom the Last Bell Tolls > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander ]
Some Come > Blurt [The Factory Recordings / LTM ]
Machina Machina > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander ]
My Mother Was a Friend of an Enemy of the People > Blurt [The Factory Recordings / LTM ]
Puppeteers of the World Unite > Blurt [The Factory Recordings / LTM]
Kazimir’s Tractor > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 2 / Salamander ]
Cut It! > Blurt [single / Orchestra Pit]
Paraboles-Mix > Henri Pousseur [Acousmatrix IV / BVHaast]
Nogales > Ted Milton vs Back to Normal Orchestra [Odes / Limited Edition]
Paraboles-Mix > Henri Pousseur [Acousmatrix IV / BVHaast]
Kharms > Ted Milton 
Get > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 1 / Salamander ]
Love is Like Violence > Ted Milton vs Steve Beresford [Odes / Limited Edition]
Miles Away > Ted Milton vs Steers & Gerth [Odes / Limited Edition]
Empty Vessels > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 1 / Salamander]
Skies are Bruised > Ted Milton vs Herman Martin [Odes / Limited Edition]
Paraboles-Mix > Henri Pousseur [Acousmatrix IV / BVHaast]
Ruminant Plinth > Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 1 / Salamander ]
Poppycock Blurt [The Best of Blurt vol. 1 / Salamander ]
St. Valentine’s Day Mascara > Ted Milton vs Loopspool [Odes / Limited Edition]

I am a member of the Facebook Ted Milton/Blurt fan club. I don’t join fan clubs. I don’t consider myself a fan of too many things / people / products. This is an exception. I have been a fan since the early 1980s when I also liked the punk jazz of the Lounge Lizards and James Chance. I have seen Blurt 4 or 5 times now and even now 30 years since they were unleashed onto an unsuspecting public they / he continue to make engaging punk jazz poesie that combines the best of old world factories, defibrilating machines and a kind of poesie that one can imagine Rimbaud making had he been saved from gangrene and continued his career on a pegleg. The hardest working man in show business manages to fuse old punk dynamism to new music’s elegant glitchiness. His sax playing has always been a virtuosic trick of playing within the framework of rudimentary blowing – like zen meets a foundry. I mean, the man can make the dead dance or at least twitter at the end of an exposed electric cord held in a sweaty palm. The band plays like there is no tomorrow and they are right there is only the moment and that moment has lasted for 30 years in a blur of mangled clarity. & yet on the night that they returned to Amsterdam on their last but not quite very last tour I was unable to disentangle myself from my obligations, annoyances and responsibilities – plus all my possible companions had renigged and it was hosing down rain.

Henri Pousseur is one of those composers I came to indirectly via the opening chords of Mark Stewart’s “Liberty City.” It appears on  “Acousmatrix – History of Electronic Music IV” on BVHaast . Was listening to henri pousseur, reissue on bvhaast as part of the acousmatrix series of electronic pioneers. was listening to ‘voix de la ville’ part of the “Trois Visages de Liege” which was composed in 1961 and incorporated evocative music of physical sounds and historical events [in this case Belgian labor strikes in 1960] as part of a sociological triptych. It plays like some working class noir piece that could be a soundtrack to something like a Celine novel or Hubert Selby’s “Last Exit to Brooklyn”. And then I heard something very strangely familiar in the early part of the piece. I remember the sounds – a bit like Bernard Hermann suspense strains – as being sampled by Mark Stewart on “Liberty City.” I checked by putting the 2 pieces on 2 sound systems and then playing them simultaneously, and yes there was no doubt, MS had definitely sampled this 1961 piece in 1982! BEST of WTM 2006.

Pousseur, a Belgian, was a contemporary of Boulez, Stockhausen and Berio. It was these kinds of characters who encouraged him to pursue avant sounds. He taught, wrote about music and composed in Europe and the US [SUNY Buffalo]. Was known for his serialism but also his  mobile forms, and aleatory [chance]  compositions that tried to fuse otherwise irreconcilable styles such as his own serial style and the protest song “We shall overcome” (Couleurs croisées) and uncomfortably juxtaposed electronic and acoustic instruments together. All of this was meant to reinvent the fascination and surprise of sound. Scambi (Exchanges), recorded in Milan [1957] is unusual because  it “is explicitly meant to be assembled in different ways before listening, so that various others have created VERY distinct versions of it. 


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