Boomkat Product Review:
Charlemagne Palestine pays tribute to his late, great peer Tony Conrad, recorded at St. Thomas church, the site of their first meeting, on what would have been Conrad’s 77th birthday. It's also the inaugural release from the great Blank Forms curatorial platform, long supporting the preservation of experimental music and now finally starting their own label.
Between 1963 and 1970 Palestine earned the moniker “the Quasimodo of New York” for his daily sessions operating the 26 bell carillon at St. Thomas’ church at 53rd Street and 5th Avenue in NYC. After playing traditional hymns, Palestine would move on to improvised “klanggdedangggebannggg” sessions, turning the whole building in the middle of Manhattan into a resonating beacon which soon enough attracted the attention of Tony Conrad, who introduced himself inside the church after one of the clangarous sessions which had, by then, become a regular feature of NYC’s soundfield in the ‘70s.
Their friendship resulted in Palestine’s contributions to Conrad’s film Coming Attraction, and both artists would go on to become regarded as key figures in the emergent “minimalism” scene also including Philip Glass, Steve Reich, La Monte Young. Yet, both figures could also be regarded as relative outliers, with Conrad’s pivotal work sorely overlooked for decades, and Palestine preferring to call his ecstatic style of overtone exploration “maximalism” in contrast to the other artists he was lumped in with.
On this tape, Palestine opens with a cry to his friend on the “other side”, which he hopes to visit “…but not too soon”, before the Carillon performance, recored March 7th, 2017 at St. Thomas Church as part of Blank Form’s public programming, intoxicatingly fills the air with a lushly chaotic, plangent elegy to one of the most important, pioneering, visionary artists of the 20th century.