Scott Taggart, Lary Seven & Felix Kubin: 1:17 (Live at ISSUE Project Room NYC, Gagarin)
Conceptual art is often only as good or as strong as its concept. In the case of this live collaboration between Felix Kubin, Lary Seven, and Scott Taggart, it helps to know the history of the piece “1:17.” He originally conceived the piece in 2008, having released it on vinyl through Scottish art collective Diskono, accompanied by six reworkings from a variety of artists including both Seven and Kubin separately. To create “1:17,” Haggart sourced a 0.7 millisecond extract from a Diskono performance which he then patiently manipulated and prolonged into a 1 minute 17 second composition that he describes as “a bombardment of fractal concrete sound.” For this subsequent iteration, Haggart collaborated with Kubin and Seven to perform the piece live in 2009. Haggart contributed a real-time manipulation of his own vinyl pressing of the piece while Kubin added samples and synths and Seven manipulated 1/4” reel-to-reel tapes on the fly. I suppose the initial irony is that neither of these cuts is 1:17 in duration, but instead closer to 15 minutes each. However, they do capture the spirit of Haggart’s original in that they manage to subvert and expand the original’s sound into something much broader and completely different. That there are human hands live at work here, and knowing that the trio performed with rather undefined parameters, there is a tense unpredictability as to what’s coming next. I find that not being able to see the players at work adds even more to its disorienting feeling, with no clear sense of what sound is coming from where or how or sometimes even why. This is not easy listening, but I think those interested in experimental process-based art will likely enjoy hearing the way these sounds come to life in relation to the theory behind it and the conceptual source from which they’re derived. Recommended for fans of A-Musik, Fenn O’Berg, AMM.