John Duncan

(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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Los Angeles-based composer John Duncan (1953) specialized in often abrasive electronic music.

He began in the 1980s with cassettes such as Riot (AQM, 1984 - Dark Vinyl, 1990), a pioneering white-noise work made in Japan, Gain (AQM, 1985), Dark Market Broadcast (Cause & Effect, 1985 - Staalplaat, 1990), another wall of noise, and Contact (Touch, 1990).

The double-CD River in Flames/ Klaar (Staalplaat, 1994) was the first major work (and to remain one of his most powerful meditations on shotwave radio signals), followed by Send (Touch, 1994), Incoming (Streamline, 1995) and The Crackling (Trente oiseaux, 1996), possibly his masterpiece, for digital manipulation of the noise of elementary particles speeding through the Stanford Linear Accelerator.

Home Unspeakable (Trente oiseaux, 1996), a collaboration with Bernhard Guenter, The John See Soundtracks (RRRecords, 1997), films that he assembled in Japan and focused on sexuality (e.g., female orgasms and male breathing), and Seek (Staalplaat, 1998) were however typical of the excessive work load of the composer.

Tap Internal (Touch, 2000), and Palace Of Mind (Allquestions, 2001), a collaboration with mathematician Giuliana Stefani for digital manipulation of voice, shortwave radio and data streams, were more thoughtful and complex.

The double CD Nav (Allquestions, 2001), a split with Francisco Lopez, contained Nav-Flex for shortwave radio signals, datastreams and voice.

Fresh (Allquestions, 2002), a collaboration with German avant-garde ensemble Zeitkratzer, offered orchestrated versions of Nav-Flex and Trinity.

Phantom Broadcast (Allquestions, 2002) was one of his best works for shortwave radio.

Infrasound - Tidal (Allquestions, 2003), that manipulated oceanic, seismic and atmospheric data provided by Australian electroacoustics composer Densil Cabrera, harked back to musique concrete of the 1950s.

The Scattering (Edition, 2004) is a collaboration with Peter Fleur.

Stun Shelter (All Questions, 2004) mixes two apocalyptic installations, one by Duncan and one by C.M. Von Hausswolff.

Tongue (All Questions, 2004), a collaboration between John Duncan and Elliott Sharp, is musique concrete with a soul, as the two manipulate and reprocess sounds produced by their mouths (hard to describe them as merely "human voice").

Presence (Allquestions, 2004), a collaboration between John Duncan and vocalist Edward Lewis (former bassist of Wire) is another work that focuses on manipulation of the human voice, this time bordering on gothic effects.

John See Soundtracks (RRR, 2004) uses as source material the soundtracks to some pornographic films that he made in Japan in the early 1980s.

Conservatory (San Sebastiano, 2005) was a collaboration with Italian multimedia artist Paolo Parisi.

Nine Suggestions (All Questions, 2006) was a collaboration with Norwegian glitch musicians Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen of Pan Sonic, a slow-burning furnace of of brutal, vital electronic noise.

Our Telluric Conversation (23five, 2006) is the second collaboration with Carl-Michael von Hausswolff, devoted to abstract soundsculpting and vocal manipulation.

The Nazca Transmissions (Planazca, 2009) is inspired by the "sounds" emitted by the Nazca lines in Peru.

There Must Be A Way Across This River / The Abject (Fragment Factory, 2011) documents an unusually calm installation, There Must Be A Way Across This River, and a black-magic collaboration with Z'ev and Michael Esposito, The Abject.

First Recordings (2012)

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(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )
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