December 03, 2004

Deranged REM Sleep Recitations: The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor

Back in the early 60’s, would-be songwriter and “inveterate freeloader”, Dion McGregor, was a permanent fixture on the Manhattan East-side apartment couch of aspiring gay porn director, Peter de Rome. During his stay, it became apparent to de Rome, and McGregor’s songwriting buddy Michael Barr, that McGregor had a “talent” for talking in this sleep…While other people might mumble a few vaguely comprehensible phrases while meandering through somnolescent dream states, McGregor launched into loud, clear recitations of surreal narratives while firmly ensconced in deep REM sleep.

Being an obsessive field recorder, Barr immediately set out to capture McGregor’s nocturnal utterances on tape. The highlights of Barr’s efforts were initially released by Decca back in 1954. In 1999, Tzadik revisited Barr’s tapes with an album called Dion McGregor Dreams Again. (The provided Amazon link features a selection of streaming links) Now, another volume of McGregor’s sleep-talking, The Further Somniloquies of Dion McGregor, has come out on Torpor Vigil Industries. On this CD, McGregor launches into rambles about nonsensical treasure hunts for Welsh shoelaces and Valentino’s hubcap; “Russian roulette” games involving poisoned éclairs; and the following monologue (downloadable mp3) on the subject of revisiting the past which starts off poignantly enough but eventually degenerates into frantic horror. The CD can be purchased through Aquarius Records.

Posted by Warren at 10:24 PM

June 03, 2004

Sweeter Dreams Through Balloon Music

Most artists would be pretty pissed off if the audience slept through one of their performances. Luke Jerram and Dan Jones, however, actively encourage it. This is because they compose music which is scientifically designed to promote pleasant dreams... And the stage on which they perform it... is the sky.

Riding in hot air balloons with specially fitted PA systems, they drift over city centres in the early hours of the morning (the time when most people are in an REM-sleep state) and broadcast their dream-music to the sleeping populace below. This Sky Orchestra (which was inspired by the sound of muezzins' calls to prayer that Jerram hear while on holiday in Tunisia) has had two outings so far. One last year, over Bristol (pdf), and the other, a fortnight ago, over Birmingham. (The Birmingham fly-over was done as part of that city's annual performance art festival, Fierce. This leads me to hope that it might be commissioned for some future Sydney Festival. It would make an interesting change from looking up to see the usual orgy of pyrotechnics that seem to accompany any "event" in the Emerald City.)

To give you an idea of what it all sounds like, here's an audio sample from their press kit (there's also a video that can be downloaded from here). To be honest, it seems like bog standard ambient music to me, but then... I was awake when I listened to it. If you're planning to fall asleep at the computer today, it might be the perfect accompaniment. Download and doze.

Posted by Warren at 10:01 PM