Boomkat Product Review:
An enchanting and rarified work for voice (english and german) and wind. Long out-of-print and little known, it was written by Lawrence Weiner and here performed by Philip Glass collaborator Dickie Landry, bringing its dual vox and minimalist chamber music to life with subtlety and, where necessary, a surprising vibrancy
Originally released in 1978, "Having Been Built on Sand" is a fathoms-deep exploration of text, language and voice, layering spiraling spoken word segments with Landry's similarly time-fluxing woodwind.
If you enjoyed Unseen Worlds' last Dickie Landry and Lawrence Weiner reissue - 1973's soundtrack for Weiner's "A First Quarter" - then this one's gonna be an essential listen. This time the two artists work in tandem, finding a meeting point between Landry's exploratory jazz and Weiner's temporal NYC Downtown art. "Having Been Built on Sand" is an eight-song deconstruction of teutonic language, that takes the past - recited, cyclic statements about Europe in the Middle Ages - and jaggedly splays it against (then) contemporary sounds. Weiner and Tina Girouard speak in English and Britta Le Va in German - the language plays against each other - the ancestral similarities between English, itself a Germanic tongue, and its root form, begin to make some kind of sense as the words rotate through each piece. What at first sounds surreal and playful ends up taking a more sinister turn as the record develops; Landy and Weiner consider art's purpose and whether language itself - civilization even - might be a form of art.
If this all sounds haughty, consider Robert Ashley's genre-breaking opera work; Landy and Weiner's motivation and outcome is related, and between them they break down what we know about jazz and experimental music, about poetry, assembling the pieces into tight structures that force you to pay attention and consider what it is you're listening to. The result is a historical oddity in itself, an eye-opening documentation of the NYC Downtown era at its most bizarre, challenging and brilliant.