Bing and Ruth: No Home of the Mind (4AD)

 |   |  1 min read

To All It
Bing and Ruth: No Home of the Mind (4AD)

In the late Sixties the most interesting and influential composer in New York – whose students and colleagues included Terry Riley, Philip Glass, Steve Reich and John Cale – was a guy called LaMonte Young.

And even today you'd be forgiven for not having heard of him.

He might have been the godfather of the avant-garde/minimalism movement but he was overtaken by his acolytes when it came to recording and becoming famous.

Young seems never to have been interested in the latter, but he also didn't record much early on.

There was something in the mid Sixties with John Cage, his wife Marian Zazeela, Tony Conrad and Angus McLisle (the latter two in the orbit of the early Velvet Underground) but that was a bootleg and has long since disappeared.

There was other releases in the late Sixties and early Seventies (again impossible to find) and it wasn't until the late Eighties with his five record set The Well Tuned Piano 81 x 25 on Gramavision – which many might claim as his masterpiece – that he was out there in the wider world.

It was a continuous, improvised concert recorded on re-tuned piano in '81 and its influence certainly outweighs its modest sales figures. Artists as diverse as Lou Reed (citing Young on the cover of Metal Machine Music), Brian Eno, Jon Hassell and many others have cited it as an influence.

At the time some likened it to Keith Jarrett without the grunts, groans and wrestling with the keyboard.

It would be no surprise if New York composer David Moore (who leads the ensemble Bing and Ruth) has a copy of The Well Tuned Piano weighing down his shelf, alongside plenty of Eno, Glass, Reich and Harold Budd.

This new album – recorded over two days in a church in Hudson, New York – has all the seductive hallmarks of classical-cum-ambient music for piano, clarinet, two acoustic bassists and someone using tape delay to create the broad atmospherics.

The 10 translucent pieces almost seem to segue together in the first half and it isn't until the more assertive and busy opening piano passages of Form Takes just after the centre do you feel pulled into a new direction. But then it quietly devolves back to slow stateliness, ambience and restful, minimalist repetition.

This is music of quietness, evolving and dissolving piano lines, mid-ground drones and electronic atmospheres, oceanic washes . . .

And the pieces come with Eno-like titles: As Much As Possible, The How Of It Sped, Is Drop, Flat Line/Peak Color and What Ash It Flew Up among them.

Very much music for films of the imagination. The colour-field cover photo is a clue to the contents.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Music at Elsewhere articles index

Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (UNSPK)

Tortoise: Beacons of Ancestorship (UNSPK)

As the band most likely to be cited when the discussion turned to "post-rock", this five-piece from Chicago have been critically acclaimed for their magpie tendencies (they lift from... > Read more

Sin City: Welcome to Sin City (digital outlets)

Sin City: Welcome to Sin City (digital outlets)

If Orville Peck takes his country music seriously, locals Sin City casually weld classic American stadium rock, finger-snap Mink DeVille (Hold On Little Girl), Jersey Shore rock'n'soul (Turn Out... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me in Bluesland (Alligator/Southbound)

The Kentucky Headhunters with Johnnie Johnson: Meet Me in Bluesland (Alligator/Southbound)

Here's one literally pulled from the vaults, a decade after the death of pianist Johnnie Johnson who was there for all those classic, early Chuck Berry sides. In the Eighties and Nineties,... > Read more

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . COTTON MATHER'S KONTIKI: But it sounds like everyone, or nothing, else!

WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT . . . COTTON MATHER'S KONTIKI: But it sounds like everyone, or nothing, else!

Back in 1999 when the US band Cotton Mather's second album, Kontiki, finally got release in Britain, a fan wrote to Mojo magazine and said, “the singer does his best damn Lennon Stars in His... > Read more