NAM JUNE PAIK, Works 1958-1979
A Korean sound/video artist, Nam June Paik first piqued the world's attention through a trickle of tape recordings that were so rare they were soon mentioned in hushed tones and changed hands for daft money. Fast forward to now and the friendly folk at Sub Rosa have decided to re-release this collection of work from Paik, all of which was recorded between 1958 and 1979 and lurches from the avant to the populist and back-again - all before you have chance to fully comprehend what's happening. Opening with 'Prepared Piano For Merce Cunningham', Paik initially augments the sparse ivories with a hissing bed of field recording that frames the spasmodic percussion perfectly. Clocking in at almost 30 minutes, 'Prepared Piano...' is expertly judged in taking an outwardly austere selection of elements then making space for them to unfurl their wings at a leisurely pace - hence dragging the listener deep within the composition. Whilst this is no-ones idea of easy-listening, the rewards which can be earned from the manipulated vocals of 'Hommage A John Cage' and delicate piano of 'Dueet Paik/Takis' are well worth breaking the brittle surface skin for, with Paik proving to be a genuine visionary who was well ahead of his time. Paik and ride!