New Year 1 – Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise

To welcome in 2010, I asked my close friends to write a review of an album they’d heard for the first time in 2009. It didn’t have to be released that year, only listened to. Most rose to the challenge, and over the next five days I am going to post the results before collating them in the Publication Archive. Essentially it was done because I felt that geographical distance was enabling an idleness in me, and that working on a project contributed to by close friends, no matter how brief the contribution, would allow me to ‘keep my hand in’, and perhaps springboard additional projects over the coming 12 months (I’ve got about 10 to work on billed as personal New Year’s Resolutions)

Any way. The first review is from Pseudo-Marxist komrade Phil Jarvis, a short sweet review of the rereleased Cornelius Cardew’s Treatise

‘How do you describe the indescribable? Treatise, Cornelius Cardew’s “Score”, consisting of nearly two hundred pages of shapes to be interpreted by whoever opts to take it on, makes you feel like you’re trapped in a 1960’s black and white existential film that metamorphosis’s into a Blade Runner meets Quatermass hybrid, around the time you realise there is no plot, no narrative, just you and a fucking journey. An ideal soundtrack to J. G. Ballard’s ‘Atrocity Exhibition’. Not an ideal soundtrack to sex. And nowhere near as good as ‘In a silent way’ by Miles Davis!

Treatise offers the listeners drones, sustained piano chords, and frequent silence. This mix doesn’t create a hypnotic piece; the listener is fully conscious and lucid. You are aware of what you’re doing and the options you have as a listener; turn it off, persevere, or try to ignore it. It’s bold, experimental, annoying, and a call
to arms. Cardew’s haunting piece somehow works.’

More tomorrow.


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