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    Gen Ken Montgomery – Pondfloorsample

    Gen Ken Montgomery - Pondfloorsample

    Hmmm. Gen Ken Montgomery. Just who is this oddly-named fellow? And what the heck does “Gen” stand for? General? Did he serve his country in a war? Is he somehow related to Elizabeth Montgomery of Bewitched fame? Has he dated Barbie? The world may never know the answers to these burning questions! But, one fact that I can relay to you with confidence is that Gen Ken Montgomery is an un-schooled sound artist who has been working since the late 1970s with primitive homemade electronics, tape recordings of noisy real-world devices, and instruments he doesn’t know how to play–like synthesizers–to produce a certain number of multi-channel sound installations, cassettes, LPs, CDs and even some good ol’ mail art. I was going to say “countless numbers,” but I’m sure Ken himself could easily add them all up, if he so desired.

    Pondfloorsample is a two-disc career retrospective set of sorts, featuring recordings spanning from 1981 to 2001 and released in 2002 by New York experimental label XI Records. Disc one contains 15 studio-recorded tracks, all but one of which are short, unaltered recordings displaying Ken’s fascination with the simple sounds of everyday objects like a churning refrigerator, a bath drain, a bird eating, someone coloring with crayons, an egg slicer, a fusebox spitting out gritty drones, layers of shortwave radio bands, moaning electronic storage devices and a film projector rewinding. Sharply contrasting the shorter works is the centerpiece, a 31-minute epic called “Father Demo Swears,” a massive, immersive sound environment full of static hiss, field recordings and grainy drones all reverbed out and built-up like a seven-layer burrito the size of an aircraft carrier.

    Disc two is comprised of four tracks that were allegedly recorded live. The first one, “Pondfloorsample and More,” contains 33 seconds of digital silence (in homage to John Cage’s 4’33, I suppose), and is dedicated to “all of the performances I’ve made that weren’t recorded, to the recordings that failed for technical reasons, and to the ideas for projects that haven’t happened.” Hmmm. How can a “recording” of digital silence be considered live? Boasting a wide collection of static drones, field recordings and the sound of a 16 mm film projector layered over a repetitive morse code-like pulse, the mesmerizing and literally-titled 52-minute “Droneskipclickloop” offers plenty of slow, gentle head-banging potential for lovers of glitchy electronica.

    Clocking in at 20 minutes, “The Aquarium Fishtank Symphony” continues the basic idea of the previous track, but more loudly and vividly, with recordings of an aquarium pump, a fishtank with plastic fish, a Fisher Price sewing machine, an eggbeater and an ice-crushing machine. The disc is closed out with a short, simple recording of Swedish crackers being laminated. When all is said and done, Pondfloorsample convinces the open-minded listener that everyday appliances are capable of producing all manner of compelling sounds, while it also successfully reduces Gen Ken Montgomery’s immersive multi-channel audio environments into more-than-acceptable two-channel versions for home-listening. Job well done!

    Label: XI Records Catalog Number: XI 126 Format: CD Packaging: Jewel case Tracks: Disc 1: 15, Disc 2: 4 Total Time: Disc 1: 75:22, Disc 2: 74:34 Country: United States Released: 2002 More: Discogs, Forced Exposure, Generator Sound Art, Official, Scaruffi

    Text ©2009 Arcane Candy

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