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from imr ezine >From SMITHEM@yvax.byu.edu Wed Jun 21 13:24:35 1995 excerpts 692w
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label spotlight... Artifact Recordings ------------------------------------------------------------------ --------

Artifact Recordings released its first disc in 1989 and since then has remained active in supporting experimental music in the San Francisco Bay Area. The label is essentially an extension of Ubu, Incorporated, which is an artist-run, non-profit organization. Even though Artifact's activities are focused mainly on local projects, the influence that this tiny label has extends throughout most of the world. A very specific group of individuals, largely those involved with electronic and experimental forms of music, are naturally attracted to the variety of recordings the label sponsors. As the name implies, Artifact's main purpose is to document the efforts of various artists who are challenging the limits of music.

Artifact's releases are sporadic. In their first year they released four projects that are considered to be the foundation on which the label is built upon. Two of these recordings, Chris Brown's _Snakecharmer_, and Larry Polansky's _The Theory of Impossible Melody_ explore the interaction between a live performer and a computer. The other two pursue equally intriguing interactive ideas. The Hub's self titled debut brings to the public a record of improvisations done by six composers who interact in real time through computers. Also, Tim Perkis and John Bischoff, who are members of The Hub, released their collaborative effort _Artificial Horizon_ (all four of these recordings have been previously reviewed in imr).

In the next year four years (1990-1993), Artifact only released 3 CDs. Of these, the most significant was James Tenney's _Selected Works 1961-1969_. Respected as one of the pioneering American composers in electronic and computer generated music, Tenney spent much of his time in the 1960s working at Bell Telephone Laboratories. The majority of the works on this disc are a direct result of Tenney's studies and creative efforts at Bell Labs. ...

After the release of Tenney's works, Artifact picked up the pace with four recordings last year that encompass a new range of endeavors. Of these releases, Larry Polansky's _Simple Harmonic Motion_ is the most unusual. What makes this stand out from the typical Artifact recording is that all of the pieces were written for acoustic instruments, and only one of them actually involves a computer. The experimental aspect on this disc is the use of instruments in just intonation (a different method of tuning). All of the pieces are fairly slow moving (but still engaging), and as one of the titles suggests Polansky has been greatly influenced by Lou Harrison.

Another new direction that can be found on one of Artifact's recent projects is Richard Lerman's _Within Earreach_. Lerman has a deep fascination with turning objects into microphones. By attaching piezo devices to palm leaves, metal sheets, glass, and other things, he claims that each of these produces their "own sonic flavor." ...

One other recent endeavor that you should listen to is The Hub's second release. This group of composers still represent one of the most daring projects currently active in the experimental music world. Their recent CD, _Wreckin' Ball_, has the group showing off its various approaches towards computer interactive composition and improvisation. Just to take one example, "Hub Renga" has each of the composers programming their computers to respond to various words. Through an electronic conferencing system poets were then allowed to type in lines of prose that would influence the music The Hub were creating.

It's difficult to discuss Artifact Recordings without dwelling on all of the technological aspects of the music. The great thing about this label's output is that, with a few odd exceptions, the music transcends the technology and the resulting compositions are far more attractive then the majority of computer based music. The artists on this label consistently bring the esoteric to life. Hopefully Artifact will continue to expand both its output and influence. With a label such as this, who knows what future projects may be in store.

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