Music Reviews

Radical Beauty

Experimental Electronic Experience (mixed by Nick Philip)

Om

Radical Beauty: The history of art is simply a history of getting rid of the ugly by entering into it and using it. After all, the notion of something outside of us being ugly is not outside of us but inside of us. We are working with our minds – trying to get them open so that we don’t see things as being ugly, or beautiful, but we see them just as they are. – John Cage

As a manipulator of the “ugly,” and a deconstructor of “beauty,” John Cage has exhibited enormous influence over contemporary music. So much that the idea of, say, preparing a piano with silverware between the strings, or creating a song out of radio noise no longer seems so revolutionary at all. Yet one of the legacies of Cage’s radical musical experiments (radical in the sense that they brought music down to its root – noise) lives on in some today’s electronic musicians. Today, any sound can be used freely for composition, an aesthetic whose practice is facilitated by the use of cheap, readily-available computers. This sense of musical history and innovation are apparent on the two-disc CD/CD-ROM set Radical Beauty.

The CD disc features a continuous mix of hypnotic, ambient, and otherwise innovative music that effectively showcases Cage’s philosophy in contemporary electronic music. Artists such as Skylab, Daniel Pemberton, PFM, and T-Power weave noises, drums, loops, and samples in a space-age musical collage. Nick Philip’s mixing brings it all together in an effective manner, letting you meld with the ether.

The other disc is a CD-ROM (Mac and PC) that includes a collection of digital toys, over twelve minutes of psychedelic animation, and an opportunity to mix up the tracks from the CD into your own compositions. This portion of the CD-ROM lets the user participate in the radical aesthetic behind the project.

Nothing is sacred, beautiful, or ugly. There is no noise – only music. OM Records, 245 S. Van Ness, San Francisco, CA 94103


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