The Complete 10-Inch Series from Cold Blue


The complete 10-inch series from Cold Blue

"New Sounds"

by John Schaefer

The early 1980s was a strange time to start a radio show devoted to new and unusual music, but that's just when I started my New Sounds show. Judging by what many record companies were sending me (note to you kids: in those days there were many record companies), "new music" meant either New Age swill or old-guard Euromodernism. I imagine it was also a strange time for Cold Blue, a record label devoted to new and unusual music, to start. At a time when the music scene seemed to be waiting for the next big thing, the series of 10-inch records (EPs) that are reissued here was definitely not it--this series was something else altogether. To those of us who stumbled upon Cold Blue's odd little "ism"-skirting discs, they were gold records; and they helped crystallize the direction that my New Sounds program would take for the next (gulp) 20-plus years.

Cold Blue's 10-inch series was a musical sleight of hand. Somehow, seven composers, each so different in approach, in instrumentation, in what they considered "musical," collectively suggested a freewheeling, sensually driven approach to sound--they loved playing with it, and with our expectations of it. This was California--post-Modernism but not yet Postmodern. Daniel Lentz was a revelation, with his witty deconstructions of pop music processes and the inscrutability of the avant-garde. I imagined Peter Garland as a crazed musical shaman, coming out of the desert just long enough to share a peyote-fueled trance vision. And what to make of Chas Smith's eerie soundscapes? It said "pedal steel guitar and dobro" on the cover, but you just had to take their word for it. And Fink and Childs and Miller and Cox each had something delightfully distinctive to say.

At a time when pursuing new music seemed a lonely enterprise, this collection of records offered the sense of a musical community--at work and at play. Perhaps it's no coincidence that around this time people started talking about a "California school." (I believe there is one; although like pornography, it's one of those I-know-it-when-I-see-it kind of things.) Maybe the Cold Blue EPs didn't actually define a school or style, but they did stake out a whole wonderful world of new sounds.

--John Schaefer

Producer of WNYC Radio's New Sounds since 1981

Disc 1

Peter Garland

Michael Jon Fink

When the soldier Bernal Diaz del Castillo entered Mexico City with the conquistador Hernando Cortez in 1519, he noted that, "One part of the city was entirely occupied by Montezuma's dancers of different kinds... and some danced like those in Italy called by us Matachines..."

The matachine dance continues in popularity as a folk dance throughout Mexico and most of the American Southwest, especially among Indians. In the 450 years since the conquest of Mexico, forms of the matachine have diffused and changed, blending, perhaps, with native dances dating from pre-Spanish times which were similar to it.

--Bernard L. Fontana

The Material World of the Tarahumara

Peter Garland

Matachin Dances (1980-1981)

  1. Dance 1 (2:33)

  2. Dance 2 (2:27)

  3. Dance 3 (2:54)

  4. Dance 4 (The Dance of Death--to the memory of John Lennon) (4:58)

  5. Dance 5 (Corcovi--Night Birds) (2:28)

  6. Dance 6 (1:40)

Ronald Erickson and John Tenney, violins

Peter Garland, gourd rattles

Matachin Dances was written for and dedicated to composer-violinist Malcolm Goldstein.

Recorded live by Robert Shumaker at the Japan Center during the New Music America '81 Festival, San Francisco, June 9, 1981.

Michael Jon Fink

  1. Two Pieces for Piano Solo (1978) (4:08)

  2. Piano Solo (1979) (5:19)

  3. Vocalise (1979) (2:58)

  4. Veil for Two Pianos (1977) (13:07)

Erika Duke-Kirkpatrick, cello

Duncan Goodrich and Michael Jon Fink (on Veil only), pianos

Recorded by Michael Zellner, Quad Teck, Los Angeles, 1982.

Produced by Michael Jon Fink.

Disc 2

Barney Childs

Read Miller

Clay music was commissioned by Susan Rawcliffe as a vehicle for the challenging variety of ceramic instruments she has designed and made for years. I wanted to provide a work which would grow, so to speak, from the nature of these instruments, which would evolve from their peculiar qualities and sonorities: the quality of attack and the sound of breath being taken, the rich and special range of partials and difference tones, the non-tempered intonation. No attempt has been made to evoke the possible music of the pre-Columbian clay flutes which Ms. Rawcliffe has studied. However, the idea of the piece's direction is that of a group of musicians enjoying exploration of material familiar to them. I have read somewhere that, in certain African cultures, whenever musicians happen to meet they play music, and this piece begins in an analogous manner, with casual exploratory warming-up sonorities moving into more organized musical gestures. Specific pitch is not often called for, and many pauses and sound durations are determined by breath length; rhythms, however, are mostly (but not always) specified.

--Barney Childs

Barney Childs

  1. Clay music (18:46)

Susan Rawcliffe, Lisette Rabinow, Georgia Alwan, and Scott Wilkinson: space whistles, transverse flute, tuba flutes, small necklace ocarinas, middle-sized ocarinas (in E and C), bass ocarina, pipes, Aztec pipes, double pipe. triple pipes.

Recorded by Paul Falck, Speakeasy Recorders, Los Angeles, February 28, 1981. Produced by Barney Childs. Edited by Marty Walker.

Read Miller

  1. Mile Zero Hotel (13:26)

  2. The Blueprint of a Promise (12:19)

Read Miller, Janyce Collins and Rick Cox (on Mile Zero Hotel), voices

Recorded by Marty Walker at College Street Studio, Redlands, CA, April 1, 1981.

Produced by Read Miller. Special thanks to Chas Smith.

Disc 3

Chas Smith

Rick Cox

Daniel Lentz

Since the late sixties, I have been interested in creating a different type of musical structure--one that is different from the typical left-to-right motion of the still-used traditional forms. These structures could be called "spiral forms," in that the materials are kept in a (spiraling) state of becoming, rather than a static state of being (as in other musics, wherein one completed musical idea or texture moves on to another completed idea, eventually forming recognizable musical forms or structures). The resulting effect can be compared to walking through an orchestra. By doing this, one can hear each individual part isolated, and at the end of the journey, one can stand back and listen to the total orchestra.

--Daniel Lentz

Chas Smith

  1. After (3:04)

  2. Santa Fe (2:26)

  3. October '68 (4:46)

  4. Scircura (12:26)

Chas Smith, pedal steel guitar and 12-string dobro

Recorded and produced by Chas Smith, Mag City, Los Angeles, May and September 1982. Special thanks to Michael Jon Fink.

Rick Cox

  1. These Things Stop Breathing (11:15)

  2. Taken from Real Life (10:03)

Rick Cox, prepared electric guitar and voice; Marty Walker, clarinet

Recorded by Marty Walker, College Street Studio, Redlands, CA, March 28-31, 1981. Produced by Rick Cox.

Daniel Lentz

  1. Slow Motion Mirror (4:20)

  2. Midnight White (3:01)

  3. Solar Cadence (4:39)

Joanne Christensen, Arlene Flynn Dunlap, Richard Dunlap, and Garry Eister: voices and keyboards; Daniel Lentz, cascading echo systems

Recorded by Daniel Protheroe, Santa Barbara Sound, Santa Barbara, CA, July 1977.

  1. Dancing on the Sun (12:08)

Arlene Flynn Dunlap, voice and piano; Daniel Lentz, cascading echo systems

Recorded by Richard Bosworth and David Porter, Music Annex Studios, Menlo Park, CA, August 1980. Produced by Daniel Lentz. Production assistance by Eugene Bowen.

CD set produced and designed by Jim Fox.

Original recordings supervised by their respective composers.

Audio restoration and digital premastering by Scott Fraser, Architecture, Los Angeles.

Mastered by Kevin Gray, Acoustech Mastering, Camarillo, CA.

Special thanks to Chris Solem of Future Disc for digital premastering assistance. Special thanks also to Michael Byron, Charles Amirkhanian, and John Luther Adams.

Funded in part by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music.

All composition copyrights retained by their respective composers.

CDs © and P 2003 Cold Blue Music. All rights reserved.

Cover photo (from a postcard bearing the inscription "This is where I nearly froze, Xmas day 1939--Milo"): Palomar Mountain Observatory in winter, Waterson Photo, Escondido, CA.

Other photos by North West Aerial Photographic Company, Aberdeen, SD.

In 1982 and 1983, the music in this CD set was originally issued by Cold Blue as a series of seven EPs--10-inch vinyl records. The original cover designs, which are reproduced in this booklet, were by W. Thayer (Childs, Cox, Miller, Lentz, Fink), Chas Smith (Smith), and Joseph Slusky (Garland).

Cold Blue Music, P.O. Box 2938, Venice, CA 90294-2938, USA