Robert Ashley

Automatic Writing

Lovely Music, Ltd. LCD1002CD
  • CD: Incl. 12 page booklet
  • LP: Incl. insert, 180 g vinyl, Tip-on sleeve
incl. 19 % VAT, excl.  Shipping
Delivery outside of EU is 15,96% off.
Release Vinyl Edition: 06/12/2019

Lovely Music present a vinyl reissue of Robert Ashley's Automatic Writing, originally released as an LP by Lovely Music in 1979. Over the course of Robert Ashley's career his preoccupation with language and the voice took many forms. He became known in his librettos as a wonderful, funny, moving writer. But with Automatic Writing he examines language at a very "primitive" level -- the human impulse make sounds to express his inner state, whether it be regret, embarrassment, fear, or happiness -- even though there is no one else to listen. Talking to oneself.

Automatic Writing CD compiles three early Robert Ashley works from 1967-79 - some of his most experimental works. Composed in recorded form over a period of five years, "Automatic Writing" is the result of Robert Ashley's fascination with involuntary speech. He recorded and analyzed the repeated lines of his own mantra and extracted four musical characters. The result is a quiet, early form of ambient music. The piece rather famously formed the basis for Nurse With Wound's A Missing Sense (1997). Steven Stapleton's commentary on the recording: "A Missing Sense was originally conceived as a private tape to accompany my taking of LSD. When in that particular state, Robert Ashley's 'Automatic Writing' was the only music I could actually experience without feeling claustrophobic and paranoid. We played it endlessly; it seemed to become part of the room, perfectly blending with the late night city ambiance and the 'breathing' of the building." The piece features the voices of Ashley and Mimi Johnson, with electronics and Polymoog backing, with a switching circuit designed and built by Paul DeMarinis.

"Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon" and "She Was A Visitor" are excerpts from an opera entitled "That Morning Thing", composed in 1966-67 as a result of Ashley's impulse to express something about the suicides of three friends. "Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon", originally issued in 1968, is a woman's description of a sexual experience. Ashley attempts "to demonstrate the dichotomy between the rational-whatever can be explained in words-and its opposite-which is not irrational or a-rational, but which cannot be explained in words." The lead voice performed by Cynthia Liddell, the processed back-up chorus, the recurring bell tone, and the pervading tape hiss, create an unsettling mood. "She Was a Visitor" was originally issued on the electronic compilation Extended Voices in 1967. It is another form of description, intended to be understood as a form of rumor. The chorus is divided into groups, each headed by a leader. A lone speaker repeats the title sentence throughout. The separate phonemes of this sentence are picked up freely by the group leaders and are relayed to the group members, who sustain them softly and for the duration of one natural breath. The time lag produces a staggered, chant-like effect, with the sounds moving outward from the nearest performer to the farthest. Booklet notes by Robert Ashley.

"On Automatic Writing, Robert Ashley composes under the influence of his 'involuntary speech.' (In his liner notes, Ashley revealed that he suffered from 'a mild form of Tourette's.') The piece starts quietly, with scraps of Ashley's mild, tremulous voice arranged next to more fluid French translations and barely-there touches of Moog. After Ashley's phrases lengthen enough to encompass sense-making phrases, a bass-register groove briefly appears, vanishes, then returns. Few pieces so quiet have proven as captivating; many that intend to be equally startling can't capture Ashley's range of surprises." - Seth Colter Walls, from Pitchfork's "Fifty Best Ambient Albums of All Time"

Robert Ashley: Automatic Writing

Automatic Writing Robert Ashley 2' 00''
Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon Robert Ashley 2' 00''
She Was A Visitor Robert Ashley 2' 00''

Nice as well: