|1||Glowing Sounds (15 ips)||7:42|
|2||Glowing Sounds (7.5 ips)||12:47|
|3||Glowing Sounds (3.25 ips)||24:48|
Harry Bertoia's Glowing Sounds LP contains three versions of the same composition, each transferred at different tape speeds in accordance with the artist's instructions. This is the third LP to be released from Bertoia's extensive tape archive and it's the first, of many, to be released using instructions left behind by the artist himself.
Bertoia wrote the concept for this Glowing Sounds LP on a note in 1975 and slipped it into the master tape case where it sat unread for 45 years. The idea was simple, transfer the original recording at its original speed and two slower speeds. Bertoia noticed that the results, however, were profound.
Recorded on January 20, 1975 using two large gongs, Glowing Sounds is one of the most powerfully minimal recordings yet discovered in Bertoia's collection. The artist's note left with the tape indicated that it was recorded at a speed of 15 IPS (inches per second) but slowing it down to speeds of 7.5 IPS and 3.25 IPS were quite effective for enhanced playback. Side A features the original 15 IPS recording and the 50% slower 7.5 IPS recording. Side B features a 20 minute, ultra-slow version at 3.25 IPS.
Long, deep drones and powerful overtones define the sound of this recording. Comparison of the three speeds provides a revealing magnification of Bertoia's gongs, overtones and the artist's inventive approach to performance, composition and recording.
Harry Bertoia first gained some artistic visibility in the early 1940s, then came into prominence with his sculptural, ergonomic chairs, produced by Knoll Furniture beginning in 1952, which quickly became classics of modernist furniture. Inspired by the resonant sounds emanating from metals as he worked them and encouraged by his brother Oreste, whose passion was music, Harry restored a fieldstone "Pennsylvania Dutch" barn as the home for this experiment in sounding sculptures which he had begun in the late 1950s. Bertoia was an obsessive composer and relentless experimenter, often working late into the night and accumulating hundreds of tapes of his best performances; Oreste, too, would explore and record the sculptures' sounds during his annual visits to his brother's home in rural Pennsylvania.
Harry Bertoia's recently dismantled Sonambient barn collection was an attentive listener's paradise full of warm, expressive instruments that were gorgeous visually and audibly. Nothing could prepare you, even on return visits, for the overwhelming experience of entering the spacious wood and plaster interior where gongs, some of them giant, hung among the ranks of standing sculptures of various metals. Over nearly twenty years of adding, culling and rearranging, Bertoia carefully selected nearly 100 harmonious pieces ranging in height from under a foot to more than fifteen feet. He considered this barn a full experience, sights and sounds comprising not a collection of works, but one piece unto itself. It was here, deep in the woods, that his Sonambient recording work took place.
Learning by experimentation was common for Bertoia and he mastered the art of tape recording, turning the Sonambient barn into a sound studio with four overhead microphones hanging from the rafters in a square formation. He would experiment with overdubbing by performing along to previous recordings, sometimes backwards, constantly improving his methods while also honing his performance skills. Bertoia was a careful editor of his own work and only chosen recordings remained, each with a date and carefully considered observations written on a note included with each tape. Through these pieces of paper a the artist's logic can be uncovered, a careful approach to composition, ideas, feelings and forms. The story of Sonambient barn collection will slowly be told through the release of recordings from the archive as well as installations and performances built from Bertoia's own recordings, lectures and a book.