Musical surprise: Antenna Repairmen

I discovered some nice music in a lovely way. I loaned some cds from the library. One evening, I wanted to listen to a short piece of music before going to sleep and put on a cd with some Number Pieces by John Cage. Cage’s Number Pieces date from the last phase of his life, using Cage’s time bracket technique: the score consists of short fragments (frequently just one note, with or without dynamics) and indications, in minutes and seconds, of when the fragment should start and when it should end. The pieces are named after the number of performers involved, and the last number on the disc was One4 for solo percussion. I read in the booklet that the piece is to be performed on “cymbals and/or drums chosen by the drummer.” A piece I had never heard before but that suited my wishes: not too long, a short nightcap from approximately 7 minutes; not too complex I supposed, since it was for one musician; and I was in for some percussion as well.

As the music played for some minutes, I started wondering if this was really solo percussion, but I liked the piece and continued listening. I thought that the musician might have chosen resonating drums… The piece continued to fascinate and I negated the doubts to what exactly I might be listening to. But after the 7 minutes time index, the piece still continued. I started wondering if the booklet had a typo mistake, or if it was a hidden track – even though I never encountered that on classical discs. But then I noticed on the index of my cd-player that there were four more tracks to follow. But I enjoyed the music so much that I did not want to take it out of the player, and continued to listen until the end. Carried away by delicate percussion music with unknown sounds and vibrations.

It was only once the playback ended, that I took out the cd and tried to read the label, that was nearly totally covered with a security tag from the library. My computer was already sleeping, and so should I – and I went to bed, peacefully. 🙂

The day after, I put the cd in my computer and discovered that it was a disc by The Antenna Repairmen, called Ghatam. It is a percussion trio that mostly plays on clay instruments, inspired on the ghatam, a traditional South Indian instrument.

The label describes the album as “a performance work for an exotic array of handmade, ceramic percussion instruments designed specifically for the piece by sculptor Stephen Freedman. Besides Ghatam, which in performance can last over an hour, there are 2 free-improvisations as well, performed on bottles, buckets, chairs, cymbals, a ratchet wrench and other junk found in the hall where the recording was produced.”

There is not much information about the group on the net (but a lot of DIY to repair a broken car antenna), but you can find some youtube clips:

Thank you to whoever lended some John Cage and this disc from my local library and mixed the cd’s before bringing them back, you made my day! (but now I am still waiting to hear John Cage’s One4 ) 😉


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