Voice is the Original Instrument: Early Works

Like most people, I find that when I really, really enjoy someone’s work; I have a hard time being anything but enthusiastic about it. Helpful descriptions, neutral explanations, and what little ethics I possess seem to vanish. Gosh! I just want to share music like this!

But that doesn’t make for a very interesting review, does it? At the very least, I can explain why I maintain an “open door/no waiting” policy for broadcasting Joan La Barbara works– she’s just amazing. Mind you, the music on her Lovely Music two-disc retrospective “Voice is the Original Instrument: Early Works” was mostly recorded before I was born. At the latest, I was all of two years old– and its a fair assumption there were no La Barbara records in my crib. Considering this, it would be safe to assume I’d hear her multi-track tape works, quadraphonic pieces, and yawn while reaching for a Venetian Snares album.


That’s where you’d be completely wrong. As she has apparently proved time and time again (and its really fun seeing her “prove” it in fast forward over two discs!) La Barbara is one of the most talented, forward-thinking, and truly exploratory artists ever. Some of her more audacious outings here include sensory deprivation, attempting to “sound paint” a picture of the California night sky (complete with galaxies!), and creating a sort of disembodied “duet” with Cathy Berberian’s tape-recorded simulacrum.

So yes, I’m astounded. I’m thrilled. I’m running out of adjectives. Add this to your listening pile, right on top.When you regain your powers of speech, you’ll thank me for it.

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