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News

07 Jan 2009

Plumbing the Exquisite Psychic Depths of Robert Ashley

http://www.villagevoice.com/2009-01-07/music/plumbing-the-exquisite-psychic-depths-of-robert-ashley/

By Ross Simonini [Village Voice, 7 January 2009]

In the mid-’70s, Michigan-born composer Robert Ashley discovered a rare commodity in the art world: a niche. Lamenting that his homeland lacked the rich operatic tradition of Europe, he sought to invent a distinctly American art form, mixing dense sound environments and amorphous narration to create something he called “opera-for-television” (with the “television” part mostly referring to the works’ division into 30-minute “episodes”). He clearly wasn’t courting a mass-media audience, though: In early efforts like Music With Roots in the Aether and Perfect Lives, the black humor of the avant-garde is on full display, with chants about “geriatric love” and recipes for Pear Jello Salad flashing across the screen.

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