Search - Robert Ashley, Mary Ashley, Cynthia Liddell :: Automatic Writing

Automatic Writing
Robert Ashley, Mary Ashley, Cynthia Liddell
Automatic Writing
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
  •  Track Listings (3) - Disc #1

Three of Ashley's landmark recordings, Automatic Writing (1979), Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon (1971) and She Was A Visitor (1967). Composed in recorded form over a period of five years, Automatic Writing is the result of...  more »


Larger Image
Listen to Samples

CD Details

All Artists: Robert Ashley, Mary Ashley, Cynthia Liddell, Mary Lucier, Barbara Lloyd, The Brandeis University Chamber Chorus, Alvin Lucier
Title: Automatic Writing
Members Wishing: 4
Total Copies: 0
Label: Lovely Music
Original Release Date: 6/15/1996
Release Date: 6/15/1996
Genres: Jazz, Special Interest, Pop, Classical
Styles: Experimental Music, Vocal Pop, Opera & Classical Vocal, Historical Periods, Modern, 20th, & 21st Century, Symphonies
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 745295100225


Album Description
Three of Ashley's landmark recordings, Automatic Writing (1979), Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon (1971) and She Was A Visitor (1967). Composed in recorded form over a period of five years, Automatic Writing is the result of Robert Ashley's fascination with involuntary speech. He has recorded and analyzed the repeated lines of his own mantra and extracted four musical characters. The result is quiet, mysterious, melancholy and an early form of ambient music. Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon, and She Was a Visitor are excerpts from an opera entitled That Morning Thing that was composed in 1966-67. Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon is Ashley's attempt 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. A woman describes a sexual encounter in matter-of-fact detail. The rhythm of the woman's voice, the processed back-up chorus, the recurring bell tone, and the pervading tape hiss, are at once unsettling and soothing. She Was a Visitor is another form of description, it is 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 entire performance. 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 between the group leaders' phoneme choices and those phonemes being picked up by members of the group produces a staggered, chant-like effect, with the sounds moving outward from the nearest performer to the farthest. Booklet notes by Robert Ashley.

Similar CDs


CD Reviews

Automatic writing
Cristian Vogel cristian@no-future.c | Brighton | 10/03/1999
(5 out of 5 stars)

"I first heard this piece, on vinyl, whilst studying music at Sussex Uni. I remember listening to it and half nodding off, as the vocals are like pillow talk. There was a moment when I thought I was listening to a bass melody in the music that actually wasn't there. I have never experienced such an intense rush of realisation from a piece of music since then. Very cool."
Intimate theater
P. Couture | Santa Cruz, CA USA | 03/04/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I've heard a lot of unusual music. This is one of those rare albums that sounds like absolutely nothing else out there. The other reviewers didn't describe it, so I'll try:

1 - tape hiss
2 - tiny electronic clanking sounds
3 - a man (distressed) mumbling nonsense syllables in your ear
4 - thin organ in the background
5 - a woman whispering in French
6 - muted R&B through the wall

These things come and go for 46 minutes. What's going on here? The booklet is vague, almost evasive; Ashley talks about a personal crisis but doesn't explain how he actually made this. It sounds like he took a private tape of his own "involuntary speech", ran it through electronic processing, then added organ and a French "translation". Ashley's voice is close, tense, and impossible to ignore - this is NOT ambient music. The piece feels more like a document of something (or a catharsis) than a musical composition. It invites and rewards close listening. I don't play it much, but every time I do, I notice new things. Cryptic and personal, but fascinating. Try?"
A masterwork
cozendey | Rio de Janeiro | 08/31/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Besides technically this being a contemporary composition, the result is an inner moving piece that makes you being ecstatic, trying to manage the sublimity and surreal setting the passages in this piece delivers. But I am being inexact in my description, maybe I could be more precise with lesser moving works, but with this one it is impossible."