San Francisco-based composer Michael Gendreau (1961) is a collage artist
of the age of field recordings.
Beginning in 1983, the duo of Michael Gendreau and Suzanne Dycus performed
under the moniker Crawling with Tarts.
They produced a hysterical amount of cassettes:
Crawling With Tarts (1984),
Crawling With Tarts (1986),
Candy Tooth Ceylon (1989),
Greed Tool Hand in the Lee of Icebergs (1990),
Aa Redbox Pahoehoe (1991),
New Caldonia (Oeiras, 1992),
Bled es Siba (1988),
The Tudor Tapes (1989),
Operas (ASP, 1993).
Then the project became more professional, focusing on the "operas".
After Mayten's Throw (ASP, 1994), that included improvised "jams" with horn players and cellist Fred Lonberg-Holm,
their aesthetic program of "surface noise operas" (operas composed out of field recordings and studio manipulations) via
was fully articulated on
Grand Surface Noise Opera Nrs 3 (Indian Ocean Ship) and 4 (Drum Totem) (Realization, 1994), the former scored for four turntables and the latter scored for turntables and percussion.
Further adventures of the duo were documented on
Madeleine (Silent, 1994),
Sarajevo Center Metal Doors (ASP, 1994)
I Am Telephoning A Star (1997) contained 15 pieces of acoustic improvation.
Michael Gendreau released 55 Pas de la Ligne au nĝ3 (23five, 2002), devoted to the excruciating sound of a rotating disk on a modified turntable,
basically, music for the inside of old turntables,
and Vitoj (Auscultare, 2005), that used hydrogen tanks and vintage records of voices.
Ochre Land, Blue Blue Skies/ Grand Surface Noise Opera Nr. 7 - Crawling With Tarts (Pogus, 2006) documents two major compositions.
The 34-minute Ochre Land Blue Blue Skies (1997),
designed by Gendreau and Suzanne Dycus-Gendreau, starts with a slow
crescendo of subliminal droning noise that eventually collapses back
into silence and then slowly resurrects as a wind-like fluttering noise.
The more ambitious and complex 35-minute Grand Surface Noise Opera Nr 7 - The Decadent Opera - Rococo (1995) disposes of the lengthy droning phases and
focuses instead on the human voice. Voices arise from the cacophonous magma and
their chaotic overlapping eventually dominates the soundscape. After 16 minutes,
samples of county-fair music infiltrate the process, soon followed by all sorts
of musical snippets, each grotesquely deformed, as in a collaboration between
Frank Zappa and Karlheinz Stockhausen. After a few thunderous organ phrases,
the piece ends with a bicycle ring performing solo.
Parataxes (Rip On Off) is inspired by the writing technique of
parataxis that Gendreau employs in his books.
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