Tony Conrad


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Violin player Tony Conrad was one of the pioneers of New York minimalism, of microtonal music and of "deep listening". He worked in 1962 on Lamonte Young's "Dream Music" project with the likes of John Cale and Angus MacLise (both future Velvet Underground). Despite having recorded very little (or in virtue of it), he remained the purest and most ascetic of the minimalists. His compositions were long tone pieces in just intonation for bowed strings, without any melodic development, notably Four Violins (december 1964 - Table of the Elements, 1997), and his collaboration with Faust, Outside The Dream Syndicate (october 1972 - Caroline, 1973 - Table of the Elements, 1996), works which, in his own words, explored the border "between pitch and rhythm".

After leaving Young's ensemble in 1965, he focused mainly on cinema, starting with "The Flicker" {1966), but Fantastic Glissando (december 1969 - Table of the Elements, 2003) was a performance of electronic music, while Music and the Mind Of the Word (1977) was a lengthy piano sonata.

After a long hiatus, Slapping Pythagoras (Table of the Elements, 1995), recorded with a handful of post-rock musicians, is basically the logical continuation of Outside The Dream Syndicate.

Early Minimalism (Table of the Elements, 1997) is a 4-cd retrospective.

Thuunderboy (Table of the Elements, 2002) is a typical avantgarde swindle: Conrad recorded his son while the child was playing with turntables and other objects, and the album pretends this to be art.

Bryant Park (Table Of The Elements, 2005) documents a 1969 experiment in manipulating the sounds of an anti-war rally.

Joan of Arc (Table Of The Elements, 2006) is a 1968 movie soundtrack that uses the pump organ instead of the violin.

Tony Conrad, Tim Barnes, Mattin (Celebrate Psi Phenomenon, 2006) document a live performance from april 2005.

An Aural Symbiotic Mystery (Subrosa, 2007) documented a live october 2005 collaboration between Tony Conrad (on violin) and Charlemagne Palestine (on organ).

The double-disc Ten Years Alive On The Infinite Plain (Superior Viaduct, 2017) documents a work premiered in march 1972.

Tony Conrad died in 2016.

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