(1990) Smalltalk

Paul Lansky

... read morePaul Lansky is a Princeton-based composer who specialized in computer transformations of speech and naturally occurring sounds. The most successful cuts on this disc, Smalltalk and Late August, take samples of everyday conversation (the first in English between Lansky and his wife, the second in...

58′:59″ 4 Songs

1
Paul Lansky
Smalltalk
12:54
2
Paul Lansky
Guy's Harp
12:58
3
Paul Lansky
Late August
13:51
4
Paul Lansky
Not So Heavy Metal
19:16
Released 01 January 1990, ℗ New Albion Records

Review

Paul Lansky is a Princeton-based composer who specialized in computer transformations of speech and naturally occurring sounds. The most successful cuts on this disc, Smalltalk and Late August, take samples of everyday conversation (the first in English between Lansky and his wife, the second in Chinese) and run them through a program that masks certain characteristics, leaving others. This results in speech-like cadences and inflections but with no perceptions of actual speech sounds aside from the occasional sibilance. A fascinating, dreamy image emerges as though one is hearing conversation through a light sleep. These pieces walk the line between science experiment and art, but manage to have enough aesthetic resonance and mystery to succeed. The remaining compositions take other instruments as a sound source (bluesy harmonica and ostensibly heavy metal guitar) and work various processes on them. Part of the problem is that the two sourced musicians (especially guitarist Steve Mackey, who sounds like an academic slumming in a populist genre) do not come through as interesting in and of themselves. Lansky's electronic elaborations on their playing add little of interest to the already meager material; again, it sounds like an Ivy Leaguer deigning to tiptoe in the streets, and the results are predictably timid. He would have been better off enlisting the services of Eddie Van Halen and Toots Thielemans! ~ Brian Olewnick