Dockstader/David Lee Myers
examination of the possible reasons that make it high unlikely for Tod
Dockstader to be more appreciated and, just for a start, more well-known
beyond a tiny circle of aficionados led me to the conclusion that the
only possible reason is his not being a name that's "in the fashion".
Which is a quite paradoxical - and not very encouraging - conclusion,
given the fact that we are talking about a musical landscape - that
of electronic, concréte, or whatever you want to call it, music
- that one would like to imagine as being immune to random, capricious
factors like one being mentioned by the arbiter of taste of the day.
truth, Dockstader has all the right ingredients to be appreciated, a
lot of excellent music, (obviously) above all; also, the air of an outsider
who - while being outside of academia - learned to use (and innovate)
the means he used by using them: a notion that is highly prized in this
era which holds the "DIY" spirit in high esteem. Instead,
I believe that the excellent interview by Chris Cutler which appeared
in the issue Vol. 4 # 2 of the RéR Quarterly was for most people
the only in-depth source of knowledge about Dockstader's music and "career".
Fortunately, gems from the 60s such as Apocalypse and Quatermass (originally
released on Owl) were re-released about ten years ago by Starkland;
while a later work such as Omniphony 1 - Tod Dockstader's collaboration
with James Reichert - was re-released by RéR not too long ago.
silent question that Dockstader's fans asked themselves - will he ever
record again? (and: will it be of the same quality as his classic works?)
- gets an unambiguous answer from this new CD, recorded thanks also
to the decisive contribution by David Lee Myers: the cultivator of "feedback
music" whose excellent album Engines Of Myth, recorded under the
name Arcane Device (originally released on vinyl in 1988, the album
was finally released on CD last year), had on its cover a dedication
to Tod Dockstader. A token of his esteem, and also an appreciation that
was not that that difficult to hear in the grooves.
joint work, Pond sees both musicians using somewhat unfamiliar means.
For Dockstader, so used at using tape, the unfamiliar elements were
the computer and the music software; while for Myers, so used at working
with primarily electronic means, sounds that originated in the "real
world". As per the work's title, sounds from the pond - for start,
frogs and toads - were the (sometimes quite easy to recognize, more
often mutated beyond belief) main source material; which is a factor
that at first could maybe lead the listener to adopt a specific listening
attitude. But after a couple of listening sessions music becomes the
proper object. Music (or "organized sound", as written on
the cover, maybe in memory of those polemic battles) that's quite easy
to appreciate: nice timbral variety, clear sounds, vivacious stereo
imaging, lots of different musical styles and atmospheres... I mean,
not at all difficult. Just being willing to leave behind the well-beaten
path is enough. At first, I caught myself thinking about who had done
what - sure, the sad and lonely air of Surge brought to my mind the
already mentioned Apocalypse; while the nasal (square) waveforms of
Springers sounded as having Myers's signature. But Pond is an almost-perfect
work that makes these kind of preoccupations absolutely unnecessary,
and that in a way could be said to be well represented by the close
of the last track, Corridor: i.e., extremely logical and totally unexpected
at the same time.
© Beppe Colli 2004
CloudsandClocks.net | Nov. 15, 2004