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Sunday, April 12, 1969

Intermedia-Day 5:
Beyond the new horizon lies a grotesque joke


Music is gaining weight. There is no longer any clearly defined line between "commercial " and "classical," "jazz" and "contemporary" types of the general species, except extreme cases.

In a way, man has returned to his ancestral forms of instrumentation while at the same time progressing to the point where sophisticated machine or computer sounds have taken the place of the human hand, if not the human soul. The past 40 years have seen the traditional horns, strings,and percussion of man augmented by virtually every form of human operated or controlled energy in a mass effort to create music, music of sound albeit not necessarily of melody or movement or form.

Needless to say, with the limited amount of time since the discovery of these new horizons, much of the new issue is bad. Personally, I feel that music mist still adhere to the rules of nature. There may be dissonances in the natural state of sound, but there is never offense. There is no sound in nature that will repulse the listener.

Similarly in the machine or electronic kingdom of sound, there must be symmetry and proportion if the work is to produce some semblance of communication and interest. Metal does not warm skin.

In the one or two previous times I have heard Al Neil perform or record, I have always been made keenly aware of a feeling for individual elements which, when combined coherently, made a whole series of feelings bursting with communication, plus the excitement of the unknown.

In his concert at the Vancouver Art Gallery Friday night, however, Neil became lost in a maze. He was a small boy, drowned in a Red Barron flight cap and often at a loss for coherence; playing with musical toys and yet not giving enough of himself to fire anything that he played with the essential element of communication.

An indication of the lack of emotion and direction in the works performed was at the end of the first piece. It sounded lick something had gone wrong with the tape recorder. Silence. No comment from Neil. Finally, after concluding that this was, in fact the end, the audience broke into scattered applause. There after, they became hip to the fact that when the rainbow light show ended the piece ended. but the vacuum had been formed and no thoughts were getting through. From that point on, Neil was somebody's idea of a grotesque joke.


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