Boomkat Product Review:
Never has a defrosting refrigerator or a dripping pipe sounded so poetic as on Anne Tardos’ entrancing ‘Gatherings’ recordings, which now become a crucial part of Sean McCann’s Recital programme alongside the label’s modern classics by Sarah Davachi. Proper find.
Recorded at various points over 1974-1981 in NYC, the enigmatic mix of observant location recordings and layered vocal improv in ‘Gatherings’ was originally issued on tape in 1982 as part of the New Wilderness project’s Audiographics series; a little-known treasure trove of avant-garde art music explorations including great works by Annea Lockwood, Phillip Corner, and Charlie Morrow (who provides the sleevenotes here), which only recently celebrated its 50th anniversary.
Coincidentally, we stumbled across ‘Gatherings’ after falling heavily for Recital’s R.I.P. Hayman side ‘Dreams of India & China’, which lead down the rabbithole to New Wilderness Audiographics and inevitably their Anne Tardos tape. No hyperbole, our first meeting with ‘Gatherings’ supplied one of those rare, subtle epiphanies when the music gets right under your skin and you can’t shift it. Under the unflinching gaze of a fixed position microphone, Anne’s recordings of her refrigerator dripping while defrosting had and still have us rapt to their elemental pulse, and when she started singing you could put a fork in us, we’re done!
Heard from inside the fridge in a way that pre-echoes Peter Rehberg & General Magic’s ‘Fridge Trax’ by decades, ‘Refrigerator Defrosting’ happily and most poetically gives new meaning to Peder Mannerfelt’s idea of “domestic techno”, while Anne’s documentation of ‘Pipes at 110 Mercer, November 1974’ uncannily resembles the irregularities of a free jazz drummer at his loosest, or even playing off some algorithmic bleep track dialled back in time from Mark Fell. It’s literally just a fridge dripping and the heating pipes playing up, but somehow it’s one of the most thrilling listens in recent memory.
Factor in the deeply strange tape compositions of 1980’s ‘Seven-Layer Song’, the other dimensional drone of ‘Voices of Video’, and the voyeuristic 10 minutes of ‘Real Sleeper / Real Dreamer’ and you have one of those most elusive beauties, an avant-garde obscurity that’s never testing and simply, utterly, strangely life-affirming in its dreamy evocation of everyday reality.