Sound Poetry & Glossolalia – Swissnex, Cambridge, October 7

What follows are the stream from my lecture notes, and a free-flow of my impressions of a performance of sound poetry, from tonight at Swissnex, Cambridge. For reasons which will become clear with the writing, I will leave them in the plain text of the transcription, without translating them into standard grammatical prose.


Vincent Barras
Professor of the History of Medicine
University of Lausanne
Defeat of meanings but also plenitude when language goes insane the willingness among poets and artists to deal with exhaustive language 
Bob Cobbing, bob jubile
Bernard Heidsieck, Poem partition
Using the language to try to destroy and create new meanings
Cauchmare, Paul Hausmann
The gentlemen have deep , steady, mellifluous voices and diction the semblance of control thus over language going amok in the poems deep glottal reaches tapping stutters crazy but articulated with strange sanity
Paul Scheerbart, I love you
First attempt in history of literature to build a poem of destroyed language language that comes from nowhere from another planet destruction of the already known impossible to treat in classical way but possible to analyze language which is incorporated into the body
Glossolalia has been a constitutive element of Christianity since the beginning and also Islam Holy Spirit comes to apostles with tongues of fire at resurrection
Glossa tongue lalai to speak
Involving organs bound to tongue,
Or language
Psychoanalysis very interested in the phenomenon 
Attempts including by psychologist Saussure to make sense of bursts
Sound poetry has something to do with Glossolalia whether religious fury or psychiatric disease or poetic inspiration but not to do with meaning
Way of developing language in an unexpected way
Study of Glossolalia and sound poetry has a center with the Swiss though the phenomena are widespread and widely distributed through the West
Speculation on one true language and myths of origin


 With Jacques Demierre, Swiss free music improviser

Silent desperation of vocal chords like someone falling backward and sucking thin dry air lunatic straining to profoundness Barras has the desperation to his voice Demierre has the calm it is like a drum sax duet at times
We’re like brothers here in the music community hearing the cicada intro of the next poem draw us into strange concord and Demierre is like a green bullfrog in a peaceful pond on a magic dark night this poem has more of the sensual less pathos I enjoy it more it’s like my father now making animal sounds for me when I was four very comforting with brash surprise of ejaculations lurching enunciation a like a language teaching tape the recital of conjugations pronunciations drunken gurgling hissing and sussuration it’s all part of the voice and the joy of the human different from noise and sound art which take you out of people into environment poetry takes us to the soul yawning a man in bed hearing he dog growl for breakfast
The strain of the long effusion brings the strain of my own body into the flight and the hum and flutter is part of me and my own mind which breaks into effusion itself as it grooves with the flow second wind slap happy singing of the wind now it’s like plucked strings in a mystique concrete Lachenmann quartet death rattle baby with rattle in crib or dropping a yoyo fort da slurping and sipping from a straw never strays from the body now getting nasal like the insertion of a tracheal I remember the pain I remember dragging my blood soaked body to the phone with no pulse as the ambulance came the song again draws my into my own mind the meaning is there with me and my human associations
But again I think of the Other is it he himself or as I perceive him or some phantom or a fusion of us both but I just get pleasure now of the lizards in their summer bath and the insects on the window pane now getting human again the town cryer the boy selling the news the hubbub and the humming of the rabble in the city streets or simply two serious people reading strange poems
And the holy church of communion we are friends here drawn together by a pair if priests to make love and peace with a sky father
Gestures to the gut with the Sassure notes on dead languages flips and slips to the chin half men half parrots on perch in cage being studied by scientists semaphore flag floaters refs in a football game calling holding and offsides the doctor telling you it say ah



The Energy of Guerilla Toss



Democracy Center, October 5

Bunny Hop

I wish I could smoke in here get that nicotine line to the brain this is amphetamine material guitar like White Zombie from the ’90s path to mathematics cross section of clue and glue Peter a rhythmic locomotive on drums the kids are hopping and bopping it’s like a sock hop doing the bunny hop soda pop big waves of shivering shudders made of iron mud bath wrestling with alligators funky metal stomp banshee streams of sound fly into the air like banners struck by lightning the beat changes so quick it’s like pick up sticks

Andrea Pensado – Quetzlcoatl – Jacques, October 4

She’s a wild witch demoness chanting incantations zigzag harmonies on synth like a TV on the fritz chugging truck sounds sixteen wheeler rattling machine gun strafe ’70s video arcade chalking up a score on Space Invaders hum of fluorescent lights in empty office after dark the wind whistling in the park tongue tappers linguistic exercises just plain strange and weird serpentine static hiss the time machine is ready and I take it to Cortez the clashing of swords the brash blow of muskets Quetzlcoatl


Noell Dorsey & Morgan Evans-Weiler, Birgit Ulher & Forbes Graham – Mobius, October 1


Noell Dorsey

The Mobius Gallery, buried away on a quiet suburban street outside of Central Square, still has the Cambridge grandiose charm. It is artsy, too, with its black walls lighted up by track lights, giving it the mod quality it has inherited from its prior locations in the South End and South Boston. And it still carries the distinction of showcasing artists who still hit the public with a weird or offbeat aftershock. Jed Speare, who runs the music series, has the same knack the space has always had, often in performance art, for pulling promising new faces like rabbits out of a hat, and propelling them into greater recognition. Forbes Graham and Birgit Ulher already have international reputations, but their stars are still rising. Noell Dorsey and Morgan Evans-Weiler are comfortably ensconced on the local scene, and tonight’s execution showed they are rising too.


Morgan Evans-Weiler

Noell Dorsey, who attended Longy School, has an exquisite, mellifluous voice, which she has extrapolated into stranger and stranger contexts of late, with good effect, to which she adds, sometimes – as tonight – keyboards. Morgan Evans-Weiler is adept at acoustic and electronic as well, playing violin in addition to computer and electronics. I have followed each for a number of years now, and they have, in the time, adapted to complex structures and strategies. Here are some notes from tonight’s show at Möbius, in Cambridge:


Noell lays down a spacey groove it’s like pots and pans being scraped and then an echo in a haunted house I remember Dark Shadows from the sixties the horror soap opera Clayton coming out of his grave now crickets chirping and a light is cast on the manor the green trees rustling ever so slightly and thunder crash buzzing and beeping Morgan with violin on shoulder holding it now like a magic wand Mandrake the Magician and the scrapes are like potato fingerlings and Noell breathes into her mic very sensually like loving and the violin skitters getting darkly romantic to the lady’s whimpering whispers which get hoarse and tough like horses and roosters and it’s morning tea in the farmhouse with the kettle whistling now she’s sweet like amber honey sipping and slurping warm rum incredible effects with her lips beyond the metallic scraping as she scrapes her vocal cords into treble chords then silence


Forbes Graham

Birgit Ulher’s and Forbes Graham’s set tonight was a weave of improvisations that sported the niceties of through composed music, marks and stabs and fragments adding up to a mural like notes inked on a cream staff page. Ulher, from Germany, has cool European austerity, while the American Graham never lacks the quirk and funk of the blues.

Patches of warmth and familiarly shared places with difficult climbs , as up a rock face; but the work rewarded patience, as motives unfolded and coalesced into greater wholes, seeming random bits of shrapnel collecting, becoming grand and weighty edifices shining in mist and moonlight.


Birgit Ulher

Here are some more reflections:

The Soft and the Sour

Ulher a bubbling spring Forbes Bubber Miley the soft and the sour the splitting of the hour now like a long trombone down echoing halls and spittle from a spit bug a balloon losing helium doing loops in the air the lyricism is gentle creaking doors like accordions whirring broken fans the comfort of an old and broken in home thus the warmth carries in the stark realities of the hard and austere horns and now it’s like the time you put playing cards in the spokes of your bicycle wheel when you were five fabulous panoply of effects and all warm

And I pause and reflect in the atmospheric room track lights on black walls makes them almost blue Forbes in his dark purple striped shirt Ulher in a button down pink orange and likewise striped and the music is stripes of sound painting an aural canyon where the mules ride caparisoned with Aztec icons carrying obsidian idols in a psychedelic sack where the wind blows hoarse and strong fueling the flights of bats adding their own soft screech