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05 October 2012

John Cage's Song Books

The first-ever complete recording of all of the Solos for Voices contained in John Cage's Song Books (1970) is now available, thanks to the incredible work of three individuals: Lore Lixenberg and Gregory Rose, vocalists, and Robert Worby, electronics.

Song Books is a collection of 90 Solos for Voice that Cage composed in 1970.  As a theme, he took a line from his diary: 'We connect Satie with Thoreau': Erik Satie being the iconoclastic French composer whom Cage greatly admired, and Henry David Thoreau being the American transcendentalist who lived alone in the woods on Walden Pond and wrote extensively about nature and his peculiarly American form of anarchy.

Any number of the Solos may be performed by any number of people, in any order, selected by chance if you like.  Songs and theatre and electronics mash up Fluxus-like food events, amplified board games, electroacoustic voices, 'animal heads', and intense feedback.  As Cage himself said of the work:

" consider the Song Books as a work of art is nearly impossible.  Who would dare?  It resembles a brothel, doesn't it?"

This beautiful 2CD digipack from Sub Rosa comes with a 24-page booklet that includes photos, excerpts from scores, and exclusive texts.  Fabulous, fabulous work, and a long overdue addition to John Cage recordings!

Laura Kuhn