The website ubu.com is one of the deepest publicly available archives of writing, visuals and, most importantly for this site’s purposes, sound. Each month a new temporary Virgil arrives in the form of a guest curator, who selects 10 items from its murky, avant-garde depths. January 2008 belongs to Alex Ross, music critic and author of the recent book The Rest Is Noise.
Among his 10 selections are a seven-minute journey through waves of guitar feedback, credited as “Loop” to the Velvet Underground’s John Cale (MP3) — from Aspen no. 5+6 [ubu.com], which also included the steam-whistle action of John Cage‘s “Fontana Mix — Feed, Nov. 6, 1967” realized by Max Neuhaus (MP3) and the genteel ambience of Morton Feldman‘s “The King of Denmark” (MP3) — and a theatrical journey of glossolalia from otherworldly percussives to eerie white noise by Pauline Oliveros, titled “Sound Patterns” (MP3).
Like the Cale, the Oliveros originally appeared side by side with work by both Cage and Feldman, in this case on the 1968 album Extended Voices: New pieces for Chorus and for Voices Altered Electronically by Sound Synthesizers and Vocoder (ubu.com; cover pictured left, courtesy of johncage.info), which included the whirligig madness of Cage’s “Solos for Voice 2 (Electronic Realization by Gordon Mumma and David Tudor)” (MP3) and two pieces by Feldman: the equally ghostly “Chorus and Instruments (II)” (MP3) and “Christian Wolff in Cambridge” (MP3).