01 Short Wavelength (39:14)
02 The Papaya Plantations (47:12)
Total time: 86:26
Cassette released by Freedom In A Vacuum, 1988
Two Radio Solos is a cassette of 2 playing-the-radio improvisations done in 1980 and released in 1988 by a no longer existing Toronto company.
Apart form being one of the greatest experimental film makers of all time, Canadian Michael Snow (b Toronto 1929) has also extensively played piano, trumpet, synth and percussion on numerous records and live performances. His recorded output includes many jazz and improvisation records, with the Canadian Creative Music Collective (CCMC) amongst others. Snow issued several legendary experimental albums on his own as well, like 1975′s ‘Musics For Piano, Whistling, Microphone And Tape Recorder’ or ‘The Last LP’ in 1987. Two Radio Solos was recorded in between those 2 masterpieces and offers lenghty improvisations played on a Nordmende radio receiver (pictured above). Here as well, Snow is dealing with long durations, like in his films ‘Wavelength’ (1966-67) and ‘La Région Centrale’ (1971). The tracks are vast collages of foreign radio broadcasts, static bursts and abstract electronic sounds, all ‘played’ with the radio surfing the shortwave frequencies (2 to 30 MHz). Chinese and Russian languages are recognizable, as well as english. I suspect there was a kind of post-production editing of one kind or another, contrary to what Snow states on the cover: some recordings are noticeably sped up, some passages juxtapose 2 sound sources and some cut-ups are obvious. The B side is a joyous collage of languages from around the world, embarking many exotic world musics, lounge music, electronic sounds and gray noise as well, all sourced from the Nordmende. ‘The Papaya Plantations’ at times sounds like regular electroacoustic music, but mostly like an autonomous sound organism with a noisy life of its own. In the liner notes to ‘Musics for Piano, Whistling…’, Snow writes about the ‘hearing/seeing/thinking experience of certain parts of certain of my films’. I assume one could consider the radio listener as defined by all the wavelengths he receives at a given moment, so that the human being is inhabiting a specific region of the electromagnetic spectrum. Listening to the radio you tune to all frequencies, all at once. This tape conjures such magic.