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[CP 092 CD] Michael Sahl; Tropes on the Salve Regina+

Creel Pone

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2021 reédition, now including Sahl's side of the 1968 Vanguard-label (although what we're actually hearing is the elusive, superior 1978 Australian World Record Club "Astor" pressing) "A Mitzvah For The Dead For Violin And Tape b/w Lyric Variations For Violin And Computer" set as performed by Paul Zukofsky & featuring a stellar Electronic component produced by Sahl at Morton Subotnick's private studio in 1968! Then, as a bonus final track, we're treated to the title cut from Robert "Cleve" Pozar's 1967 Savoy-label LP "Good Golly Miss Nancy" featuring Pozar in a real-time duet w/ an incredible Sahl Moog-freakout (likely similarly composed & produced at Mort's) - Sahl & Pozar worked together often over the years, most notably on the scores for Joel M. Reed's "Blood Bath" & "Bloodsucking Freaks," joined on the latter by Michael "Trip-Tych" Lobel, but also on the early 80s Eric Salzman collaboration "Civilization & Its Discontents" (which I'm sparing you here as a kindness; trust me!)

I've heard rumo(u)r of the Creel Pone "Shortlist"; i.e. the member-curated selection of "candidates" for the Creel Pone treatment, each title nominated then judged according to a strict set of attributes found running throughout the series (intangible qualities, mind you, such as "Zonked", "Private-Universe / Bedroom" - "Against-Grain", "Aleatoric", etc.)

Up high on said list all along has been this gem; Michael Sahl's first release, "Tropes on the Salve Regina." Sahl is a fascinating character, on track to enter the Darmstadt universe before (suddenly, accidentally) become Judy Collins' Music Director ca. "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" & working with Leonard Cohen on "Songs of Love and Hate" before becoming entrenched with Tango. This particular LP is a one-off, fitting in so perfectly with the running canon of Creel Pone that it's almost hard to believe that this was actually released in the late 60s on Lyrichord; a label known primarily for their production-value heavy ethnographic survey LPs.

The piece starts out straight enough with a swash of detuned / atonal "bedroom" Free-Improv electric guitar (overdubbed and multiplied tenfold to yield a thick swarm of discordant plucking) before confoundingly detouring into an almost Robbie Basho -lineage bit of operatic recitation. The guitars pick up again when, suddenly and without warning, a hailstorm of Tape Manipulations render the individual guitar notes into a free-time grid of attacks & rhythmic gating, punctuated with short stabs of Concrète sound and heavily processed / time-altered variants on the recitation - for a good 20 minutes. The first half of the piece picks up speed & trails off, ending with a long section of o/t guitar lines.

If that wasn't already enough, the second half starts straight out of the gate with a flurry of tape-speed mangled guitar lines dotting across the stereo spectrum ... after a long section of muted field recordings, the guitar(s) come back in again, now bathed in Tape-Echo and Spring Reverb, quickly juxtaposed against wet and dry takes before sailing out in a sea of eastern-leaning psych-improv (imagine a Musique Concrète piece comprised solely of Jorma Kaukonen & Sandy Bull's mid/late 60s sound-checks & you're close).