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Archives: The Electronic Griot

1) Musik (Vinyl) Ensemble Economique: Interval Signals


(Dark room. All people present. Reading the last two paragraphs of Richard Brautigan’s short story „Pacific Radio Fire“ in a corner of the room, then returning to the place with the old lamp …)



„I had never seen anybody set fire to a radio before. As the radio gently burned away, the flames began to affect the songs that we were listening to. A record that was #1 on the Top-40 suddenly dropped to #13 inside of itself. A song that was #9 became #27 in the middle of a chorus about loving somebody. They tumbled in popularity like broken birds. Then it was too late for all of them.“




Griot 1 – Hello, everybody. Just take care for a good sitting. The best thing would be the beach chair of Hakon Stene´s album cover ((the cover can be seen in the audience)), but it´ll be okay anyway. Wish you an unsafe journey, the music will send you places, this is Punkt Radio.

Sometimes I start a record show with a piece of music announcing nothing, setting the mood with the music alone. There are two factors that kill even good music shows on air: an all too smart Alec on the microphone, and constantly happy-sounding DJ voices.

This is music to get lost in, Brian Eno once coined the word for it: „where-am-I-music“! „Ensemble Economique“ is a funny name for one-person-project. Broadcast signals, rain, conversational voices, distant drumming, All India Radio, alien chants …

And congratulations, Mr. Brian Pyle, for placing a piano into the landscape of this 40-minute-track that doesn`t do its sweet Erik Satie exercises. Melancoly like in an old crime scene, shot in black and white, echoes trapped in a deranged telephone network …

Brian Pyle is Ensemble Economique. He lives in an isolated part in Northern California not too far away from the light tower where John Carpenter made his horror film THE FOG. Killing soundtrack, by the way, and Adrienne Barbeau is playing a radio DJ on a deserted light tower. My dream place for making radio: the sea before your eyes…. Brian Pyle´s album is also about fog, the fog of radio waves – people lost in the fog like in Ingram Marshall`s „Fog Tropes“, „apparitions like petals on a wet black bough“…


(fade out of background music)


In 1972 another young man was in the South of France. By that time film director John Carpenter made a first, short version of a future classic „Dark Star“.

The young man had eaten bad fish and became very ill and then had a recurring vision of a hotel where everything was scanned by an electronic eye. Several rooms: in one room two people were fucking, kind of cold fucking.

In another room full of electronic equipment a composer was listening through earphones, but all was silence. Next day the young man felt better, went to the beach sunbathing, and suddenly a poem poped into his head. The first lines:


„I`m the proprietor of the Penguin Cafe, I will tell you things at random.“


Years later, I met Simon Jeffes in London and he told me the story of the poem. It was all about the unexpectedness, the unknown, the killing of dead patterns and dead rituals, the irrationality, and how that makes life precious.


2) Penguin Cafe Orchestra: Milk


Griot 2 – Milk, from the first album of the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. Simon Jeffes was disappointed by the rigid structures of new classcal music and rock, stayed close his own Penguin dreams and found a mentor named Brian Eno who published Simon’s surreal „coffee house avantgarde“ on his label OBSCURE RECORDS.



OBSCURE RECORDS published ten album within a very short span of time in the midseventies: not a commercial, but an artistic success: the idea behind was to close missing links between experimental music and leftfield pop, between musique concrete and ambient music.

What a playground for great albums: cold academic egghead music replaced by lush, warm textures, a floating quality of minimalism instead of epigonal 12-tone-gymnastics or some real prog rock bullshit of that era. Several records became classics: Eno’s Discreet Music, Gavin Bryars‘ The Sinking of the Titanic. Harold Budd’s „Pavillion of Dreams“…

Laurence Crane was surely influenced by Gavin Bryars‘ sound textures and some of Mr. Crane’s compositions found their ways into yesterday’s concert of multiinstrumentalist Hakon Stene. His new album has the wonderful title LUSH LAMENTS FOR LAZY MAMMAL, and lush laments they really are.

Decaying sounds, music on the verge of falling apart, tunes like ghosts, music for deck chairs: is it slow motion, is it abstraction, is it Northern melancoly (long history!), is it valium without prescription, is it a suggestion carved in sound for postmodern times: the things that last shine from the margins …


And they vanish with dignity …
And they vabish with dignity … (Slow voice)


„The apparition of these faces in the crowd
Petals on a wet black bough“


Listen, Hakon Stene’s See Our Lake …


3) Hakon Stene: See Our Lake 1


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