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Album Review

Mark Applebaum “The Bible Without God” [Innova]

cujo   5/16/2006   A Library

Applebaum is a youngish Stanford electroacoustic composer. This disc features his electriconically wired junkyard percussion instrument called the ‘Mousetrap?. Most of the performances here are improvised electro-acoustic performances on the Mousetrap and other instruments of the same family (midi-mouse, mini-mouse, micro mice…). The exceptions are the even-numbered tracks on The Bible Without God. These feature the students from his John Cage seminar performing conceptual compositions worthy of the highest Cage or Fluxus achievements. Definitely read the liner notes and back-announce for these efforts: how could you resist sharing the sheer random joy of Keys, Strings, and Pencils?

What is truly incredible about this release is that it has none of the stuffiness of your typical Variations-type Cage recordings. This is much more modern and hip: Cage played aleatory music but Applebaum and friends are playing chance music. See now, ‘chance? is a lot easier to understand, isn’t it? There are a lot more appearances of rhythms and beats and familiar electronic sounds (periodic laser gun bursts) than you’ll ever find in Cage – that’s what you get when you’re two generations removed from the master! A very warm recording with ample liner notes printed pretty in pink.

A superlative starting point for those afraid of electroacoustic chance musics, or those who once gave Cage a chance but subsequently swore off the genre.

haiku review:
The play is the thing
Joyful junior junkyard chance
Pink is the new Cage

-Cujo, KFJC, May 2006

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