In 1978 »Having Been Built on Sand« was conceived as a vinyl edition and released by the Rüdiger Schöttle gallery in Munich with sleeve design by Lawrence Weiner. The piece consists of eight untitled tracks. Lawrence Weiner, Tina Girouard, and Britta Le Va recite text with Dickie Landry’s woodwinds, all recorded in the natural reverb of Robert Rauschenberg’s studio, a former mission and chapel in Lower Manhattan. Layering Girouard in English, Le Va in German, and Weiner in English and German blocks of related or physically proximal texts repeat, invert, and intersect with Landry’s music as a constant. The layers of text and sound have meanings that fluctuate in complexity and scope, and like much of Weiner’s work, beyond mere facts.
The first piece is a trio for Landry’s keening tenor, repeating winnowed but breathy lines that contrast with and buoy Le Va’s clear, husky phrases, building in intensity as Weiner, in English, offers statements that are caught just off mic. The third cut adds Girouard, and one can hear woven parallels in the two women’s voices, cadences, and pitches, with Weiner’s cutting inflection dancing amid them. Landry’s bass clarinet is rich in its warble, full and gentle with woody footfalls that demarcate shapes through the chorus. Vocal rhythmic cycles, wordless in nature, are the energy that courses through the fourth song, urgent and sweaty as Weiner recites statements of political position in the Middle Ages, Le Va declaiming alongside in German. On soprano saxophone for the fifth tune, Landry pierces and darts in a bright manner in a private dialogue with himself, echoing Steve Lacy as female voices nearly bury one another in closely valued hues. Weiner, meanwhile, volleys between the LP’s title phrase and cornerstone proclamations such as “the artist may construct the piece. The piece may be fabricated. The piece need not be built.” The closing cut makes curious use of delay and alto flute, Landry’s breath and the inherent percussiveness of the instrument’s keys creating a slick rhythmic support that courses through overlapping vocal phrases, advancing and receding declarations of presence and intent.