PHILIP CORNER Rocks can fall at any time



BIO: Philip Lionel Corner (born in 1933) studied composition at Columbia University with Henry Cowell and Otto Luening, attended Olivier Messiaen’s ”Philosophie Musicale” class in Paris (1955-7) and deepened his research on the piano with Dorothy Taubman (60s). During his military service in Korea, he loved the korean traditional music and studied calligraphy with Ki-Sung Kim. His longstanding parallel interests and activities include poetry, text-sound compositions, visual arts, dance, performance art and eastern cultures and religions (especially Zen Buddhism). He was an original founding member of the Fluxus movement, resident composer and musician with the Judson Dance Theatre and the Experimental Intermedia Foundation, co-founder of the Tone Roads Chamber Ensemble and Gamelan Son of Lion. His teaching career (1967-1992) expanded in various important Art Schools and Universities. In the early nineties, he moved to Italy, joined by his future wife and performance partner Phoebe Neville (dancer and choreographer).

Philip Corner is one of the greatest American avant garde composers, an American outsider, a unique philosopher redefining what we call music and art, bringing together different cultures in a new kind of harmony, inviting all of us to experience music as a whole and be a crucial part of it. MoreMars Team can proudly announce the release of this amazing LP with 4 unpublished works spanning 30 years of pure creation. The beauty of these recordings lies on their lo-fi, hissy, raw quality.

”Gong (ceng-ceng)/Ear” was recoded in Bali (1989) using very resonant handheld balinese cymbals. Totally improvised music,shaman vibrations through the body, dedicated to dancers
( ”the dancer may be me…or you, listener!” Philip Corner).

”Two in Thailand” (created in Bankok, 1996-performance recording in New York, 1997) with Phoebe Neville. This is a very formal Metal Meditation with very small finger cymbals and a heavy gong in slow punctuations. A wonderful graphically and verbally notated score for open improvisation.
These two A’ Side pieces distill many years of experience and experiment with the properties of resonant metal objects, whether intended for music or not. Metallic magic, deep resonating tones, delicate ringing cymbals, vibrating sonorities leading to a ritual, transcendent experience.
”OM.Duet:Jug and Bottle” with James Fulkerson (private performance, New York 1972) is a ”zen-like” sustained tone with microtonal breath fluctuations, using the simplest possible resonators. Based on verbal instructions, slight mysterious gestural sounds brought up to ear close audibility, and eerie low frequencies create a spectrum of sound-texture varieties with a mesmerising, hypnotic effect.

”Satie’s 2 Chords Of The Rose+Croix…As a Revelation” (Hartford Village, Vermont 1999). Music based on a chosen section of a loved classic, with a little ”beat up” harmonium producing mystic organ sounds. Long sustained tones floating in the air, variety of pitches, rhythmic irregularities and weird time specifics resulting in a reverential, ecstatic composition, profoundly affecting.

”….Hum the Ultimate Mantra-this should turn you on-….” Philip Corner.
This is a limited edition LP of 350 copies, inclouding a 16 pages inner book full of info, photos scores + texts by Philip Corner. Master made by Yiannis Tsirikoglou + the graphics by the MoreMars Team.

Wire magazine (August 2013)
This acceptance of the complete and unedited performance as it was recorded is indicative of Corner’s rejection of those aesthetic distinctions that separate music from noise, unanticipated occurrences or the movements of the body. Four further examples of his approach, taken from a period of almost 30 years, can be found on Rocks Can Fall At Anytime. The oldest, OM. Duet: Jug And Bottle, is also the most charming. A private performance dating from 1972, it comprises a serene set of exchanges between Corner and James Fulkerstone, both of whom trained as trombonists, using their breath to produce haunting, sustained tones from the necks of everyday vessels. The effect is meditative, Zen-like and folksy, the tape hiss from the recording providing an unexpected continuo right up to the run-off acetate at the end of the spool. The more recent Satie’s 2 Chords Of The Rose + Croix… As A Revelation, performed on an old harmonium in a Vermont gallery in 1999, seems to invoke the entire space within which it was recorded. Erik Satie’s short piano piece Première Pensée Rose + Croix supplies the conceptual framework for an improvisation in which the wheezing and creaking of the bellows and keys, as they are gently being coaxed back into life, play an important part. For all the quiet concentration Corner brings to his musicianship, he never appears to be alone in any of his performances. The quietly concentrated Gong (Ceng- Ceng)/Ear, recorded in Bali in 1989, is inspired by the dancing of Francine Aubrey and features Corner playing ceng-ceng, Balinese handheld cymbals. Their clean ringing tones and percussive scouring contrast well with the fourth piece in this set, the ritualistic Two In Thailand, a restaging of a piece first created with Phoebe Neville, Corner’s wife and longtime performance partner, on a visit to Bangkok in 1996. Using tam-tam pulses and finger cymbals, the performance is focused enough to fit comfortably within the spiral grooves of a LP. (Ken Hollings) 

swill radio / anti-naturals 
Four pieces spanning the years 1972-1999. As with most of his work I am familiar with, Corner does not use a lot of instruments per piece, not much editing, and no gizmos or processing. The first side centers around gongs or other percussion instruments, but as always with Corner’s music, there are other sounds, either introduced objectively or from the recording situation. The second piece on the side, Two From Thailand, is particularly effective with its sizzling cymbal gong accompaniment. The second side is more introspective. The jug and bottle piece from 1972 that opens the side parades its nostalgia for the lost days of minimalist experimentation. The second piece on the side, the fantastic Satie’s Two Chords Of The Rose & Croix… As A Revalation has to be one of my favourite of Corner’s works. Minimal tonal keyboard, lots of bumping. What could be happening? Get it and see why. Comes with a really neat little booklet too. (Scott Foust) 

Vital Weekly 
This year Philip Corner will turn 80, yet he’s still around to produce music. He studied with Henry Cowell, Otto Luening and Olivier Mesiaen in the fifties, but interests in Zen Buddhism turned him towards Fluxus, of which he is regarded a founding member. His musical pieces defy compositional logic, but are also not entirely rooted in the world of improvisation. Here, on this new LP release, we find four historical pieces, from 1972, 1989, 1997 and 1999. On the A-side these are percussion pieces, one recorded in Bali and one in New York, while on the b-side there is a piece for two trombones and a harmonium piece. The way Corner ‘scores’ his pieces (booklet enclosed) is very open, giving some guidelines, free to the player for his own interpretation. All four pieces have a fine zen like character. Music that starts, stops and not particular leads you anywhere. There is a bit of sound; especially on the b-side its all quite sparse. In the ‘Om. Duet: Jug And Bottle’ piece, with James Fulkerson on trombone, the recording is very low, but all the hiss adds a fine ‘other’ texture to the music. In the harmonium piece there is a mild form of distortion, which might be intentional or the pressing, but it sounds fine. A irregular pattern of clusters here. The more percussive pieces on the first side are somewhat louder of course, but have a similar fine relaxing quality, like wind chimes on a spring morning in a desolated industrial area (in ‘Gong (Ceng-Ceng)’). Very free music from a radical background, to some perhaps more art than music, but even without the Fluxus context, I think this works quite well as music. (FdW) 

Quatre pièces de Philip Corner dont la porte des archives semble s’être grande ouverte !’Gong (ceng-ceng)/Ear’ (1989) et ‘Two in Thailand’ (créé à Bankok, en 1996 et enregistrée ici à New York en 1997) avec la danseuse Phoebe Neville. Deux pièces où les gongs et cymbales occupent une place centrale. De la Metal Meditation ! ‘OM.Duet: Jug and Bottle’ avec James Fulkerson (New York, 1972) une archive plus ancienne, une recherche sur le souffle tenu avec le plus simple des résonateurs. ‘Satie’s 2 Chords Of The Rose+Croix As a Revelation’ (Hartford Village, Vermont 1999) une pièce pour harmonium où l’instrument se donne aussi à entendre. Tirage limité de 350 copies avec livret de 16 pages (textes et photos). 

Avec Rocks can fall at any time, le label grec moremars nous propose une collection de quatre pièces du compositeur zen, proche du minimalisme et ancien membre de Fluxus, Philip Corner. Quatre pièces historiques enregistrées sur vinyle entre 1972 et 1999. La première face débute avec “Gong/Ear”, une pièce pour cymbales suspendues balinaises. Il s’agit d’une improvisation assez chaotique qui dénote surtout une admiration totale pour l’instrumentarium balinais et tout particulièrement le gamelan. Beaucoup de places pour les résonances et une multitude d’attaques sont explorées durant cette performance accompagnée d’une danseuse. La seconde pièce est une composition ouverte pour deux cymbales et un gong. Les deux petites sont continuellement frottées tandis que le gong sert à ponctuer cette lente méditation sur la résonance du métal. On retrouve encore une fois l’intérêt de Corner pour les instruments orientaux et la méditation bouddhiste. Une assez belle pièce très minimaliste, envoutante et profonde, notamment grâce à la régularité des ponctuations et des frottements de métaux en résonances, mais aussi grâce au caractère très aéré de cette pièce aux allures cosmiques. Ma préféré de ce disque. La seconde face débute avec une performance privée intitulée “OM Duet” pour deux performers qui soufflent dans une bouteille ou une cruche. Tout se joue sur des micro-variations et le caractère habituellement inaudible de ces résonateurs pourtant communs. Puis vient l’excellent “Satie’s 2 Chords of the Rose+Croix… As a revelation”. Une pièce basée sur un triton (Si/Fa) de Satie qui semble avoir profondément marqué Philip Corner. Ce dernier a retranscrit cet accord sur un vieil harmonium aux sonorités très mystérieuses et fantomatiques. Le triton est répété à intervalles assez espacés avec calme et douceur. Une pièce simple, calme, riche et touchante. C’est une belle initiative de publier un LP de Philip Corner, aucun doute, surtout accompagné de notes du compositeur et d’extraits de ses partitions. Malheureusement, des enregistrements de meilleures qualités auraient été plus que bienvenus. Mais bon, il s’agit de performances inédites et qui présentent autant un intérêt musical qu’un intérêt historique, il ne va pas falloir chipoter donc. [Julien Heraud] 

heathen harvest 
Philip Corner is an American experimental composer and artist whose audio work has covered everything from piano and choral, to electronic compositions and, arguably the medium he has focused on the most, gamelan. Rocks can Fall at Any Time falls somewhere close to the latter category, if not wholly within, with its focus on primarily percussive pieces, with gong, finger cymbals, and ceng-ceng (basically a gong). Rocks can Fall at Any Time collects four pieces from Corner’s ouevre, ranging from 1989 in Bali to 1999 in Vermont. As a snapshot of an artist’s continued interest in a means of expression, more mars team has produced a solid release. The icing on the cake is the booklet included in the sleeve, featuring performance photos, brief descriptions of the players and the venues, as well as several photocopies of Corner’s notes for the pieces themselves. His notes, more than anything, are what hold this together as a record, more than archival entry. “Gong (Ceng-Ceng)/Ear” was written, performed, and recorded during time in Bali in 1989. This minimal work of solo percussion initially comes off as rather, dare I say it, amateurish, until you start to realize that the recording quality actually does help to convey the space and movement of the sound within the venue. “Two in Thailand” is a duet piece with Phoebe Neville from Bangkok in 1996. Neville constantly chimes finger cymbals, while moving in a circular motion around the sound of Corner’s heavy gong. Realizing that this piece is entirely acoustic really helps you appreciate the slight doppler effect of the recording. Maybe with a better, 5.1 dolby surround sound stereo system I could really appreciate this. The B side opens with “Om. Duet: Jug and Bottle” between Corner on voice and jug, with James Fulkerson on accompaniment. All the same, this piece sort of left me nonplussed. There is wind, the sound of human breath, silence, punctuated by human moans and the “microtonal breath fluctuations” (according to Corner’s notes) between the dual resonators of jug and bottle. Yes, this is interesting and obviously more thought out than one would think, but as a recording I find myself reminded less of experimental audio performances, and more of hanging out with my friends, piss drunk at their kitchen table. Is that the point? The final track, “Satie’s 2 Chords of the Rose + Croix … As a Revelation” is maybe the most interesting piece on this LP. Surprisingly enough, this is the composition that does not revolve around percussion. Based on the notes, this composition for Harmonium hovers on B minor and F major, “two extraordinary chords at the distance of a tritone […] revealed as a kind of chorale.” Corner’s notes contain more incredible directions, such as “no violence!” and “never gratuitous virtuosity!!” Written in all lowercase letters, yet finished off with exclamation points, Philip Corner has finally solidified my feelings about Steve Vai and Joe Satriani. Zing! Rocks can Fall at Any Time is interesting, but really only as far as archival recordings of live, improvised performances can be. Time and place are represented, but both seem to be missing from these recordings. The liner notes claim that the harmonium was an old one that already belonged to a local vendor; the show was in an intimate space. However, the recording lacks so much of the energy that would have been present at that time, in that place. This LP is interesting the same way Christian Marclay’s Guitar Drag LP is interesting, even though the audio has been removed from the video, which in itself is a step removed from the actual performance piece itself; these numerous events can only be captured through a lens of a first-person perspective. My point is, improvisational performances convey this fact by their very nature: the truth of a thing is in the experience of it. Rating: 4/5 [Thomas Boettner] 

Ο 80χρονος πια Philip Corner είναι ένας μύθος της μουσικής πρωτοπορίας, με καριέρα που κρατά από τα sixties (ή και νωρίτερα). Από τα ιδρυτικά μέλη του κινήματος Fluxus, ο Corner πειραματίστηκε, βασιζόμενος στα κρουστά (κυρίως), συχνά εντός ενός συμπλέγματος καλλιτεχνικών δομών, που δεν αφορούσαν μόνο στον ήχο, αλλά περαιτέρω στο λόγο (ποιητικό ή άλλο), στο χορό, τις εγκαταστάσεις, τις οπτικές τέχνες, δρώντας μέσα σ’ ένα πολυπολιτισμικό περιβάλλον· εννοώ το περιβάλλον που οριοθετούσε ο ίδιος, δανειζόμενος πλείστα όσα στοιχεία από εξω-αμερικανικές κουλτούρες, πλάθοντας το δικό του τελετουργικό προφίλ. Παρότι η δισκογραφία του Corner δεν είναι ιδιαιτέρως μεγάλη (για κάποιον που έχει 50-60 χρόνια στα μουσικά πράγματα), είναι επαρκής προκειμένου να αποσαφηνιστεί το προσωπικό του στίγμα. Προς αυτή την κατεύθυνση βοηθά και η παρούσα ελληνική(!) έκδοση της moremars (350 αντίτυπα βινυλίου, συν 16σέλιδο βιβλιαράκι). Το πρώτο track του άλμπουμ “Rocks can fall at any time” έχει τίτλο “Gong (ceng-ceng)/Ear” κι είναι ηχογραφημένο στο Bali την 2/9/1989. Ο Corner είναι από τους πειραματιστές που έχουν ασχοληθεί επισταμένως με την μπαλινέζικη μουσική και τα gamelan ensembles. Έχει δε ηχογραφήσει ποικίλα έργα, στην προσπάθειά του να ερμηνεύσει τα συγκεκριμένα ηχοχρώματα (π.χ. το “2 Works for Gamelan Ensemble” LP, στην ιταλική Lotta Poetica & Studio Morra το 1983 ή το “3 Pieces for Gamelan Ensemble” CD στην επίσης ιταλική Alga Marghen το 1999). Επί του προκειμένου τον ακούμε να αυτοσχεδιάζει χρησιμοποιώντας μπαλινέζικα κύμβαλα, τα οποία κρατά με το χέρι (υποθέτω κάπως σαν τα πιατίνια στις μπάντες παρελάσεων και αλλαχού). Το άκουσμα είναι καινοφανές. Υπό την έννοια ότι τα ποικίλα χτυπήματα, τριψίματα ή ό,τι άλλο δημιουργούν συστάδες ήχων, οι οποίοι συμβάλλουν και μέσα από τις αναδράσεις τους (ένα είδος φυσικής λούπας). Το “Two in Thailand” για δύο κρουστά (ένα μικρό κύμβαλο, ένα γκονγκ) και μια χορεύτρια (η σύζυγος και παρτενέρ του Phoebe Neville) μελετήθηκε και αναπτύχθηκε στην Μπανγκόκ το 1996, για να ηχογραφηθεί στην Νέα Υόρκη την 5/11/1997. Αυτό που ακούμε με το ελαφρώς θορυβοποιό κάτι-σαν-ίσο (που θα μπορούσε να μοιάζει με αγιαστούρα – «θα μπορούσε» λέω) και τα ανά 10-15 δευτερόλεπτα χτυπήματα του γκονγκ (που θα μπορούσε να μοιάζουν με καμπάνα) έχει ολοφάνερο επιτάφιο χαρακτήρα· για μας τους Έλληνες, δεν ξέρω για τους Ταϊλανδούς. Το πρώτο κομμάτι της δεύτερης πλευράς έχει τίτλο “OM.Duet:Jug and Bottle” και είναι ηχογραφημένο στη Νέα Υόρκη το 1972 – συμμετέχουν οι Philip Corner και James Fulkerson. Βασικά, εδώ έχουμε τέσσερα όργανα, για να μην πω… πέντε. Μια κανάτα, ένα μπουκάλι, δυο φωνές… και τον φυσικό θόρυβο τής ταινίας εγγραφής. Αυτό που ακούμε είναι ένα παιγνίδι με τις συχνότητες (τονικές ή μικροτονικές), που ενδεχομένως να παραπέμπει σε καταστάσεις… αναζήτησης του τέλειου τόνου (ή μικροτόνου). Διαλογιστικό περιβάλλον, με «θεραπευτική» φόρτιση. Στο “Satie’s 2 Chords Of The Rose + Croix… As a Revelation”, ηχογραφημένο στο Hartford Village του Vermont τον Φεβρουάριο του 1999, ο Philip Corner καταπιάνεται με το γνωστό… ροδοσταυρικό έργο του Erik Satie “Sonneries de la Rose+Croix”, με το πιάνο όμως να αντικαθίσταται από το αρμόνιο. Η ατμόσφαιρα είναι οπωσδήποτε minimal (εννοώ πως θυμίζει έργα του πρώιμου μινιμαλισμού), περνώντας από τα πιο χαμηλής στάθμης passages στα πιο… εκκωφαντικά, για να κλείσει το track μέσω μιας τυπικής ηχητικής απομείωσης. Το γεγονός ότι το άλμπουμ αυτό –με την συγκεκριμένη μουσική– είναι ελληνικής παραγωγής έχει οπωσδήποτε τη δική του σημασία.

Additional information

Weight 490 kg