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    Harry Smith – Early Abstractions

    April 15th, 2009

    Harry Smith - Early Abstractions.

    Harry Smith (1923-1991) was primarily an artist, filmmaker, musicologist, archivist and record collector who was best known for compiling the Anthology of American Folk Music for Smithsonian Folkways in 1952, which was a huge influence on the folk music revival of the ’60s. Harry also gained fame in underground film circles (and squares) for creating a series of colorful, abstract, animated shorts starting back in the 1940s. The movies on this tape span from 1941 to 1957, and predated another major ’60s explosion: psychedelia.

    These films, which were originally paired with the jazz of Dizzy Gillespie, and later, pop like the Beatles, completely cry out for the viewer to silence the sparse, dank, improvised Teiji Ito Shaman soundtrack on this volume and crank up whatever music he or she thinks will most appropriately accompany the visuals. I imagine Merzbow would mesh quite well with the first three films. No. 1 is all gritty, organic, watercolor-like, and fast-paced; full of ever-changing, amorphous shapes that unfurl themselves across ultra-detailed backgrounds. Likewise, circles dance across myriad corroded backdrops in No. 2, while diamonds and squares take up residence in No. 3.

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