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The life and work of Maryanne Amacher are as vast as they are little known. In this volume, Amy Cimini and Bill Dietz offer a heterodox and idiosyncratic selection of largely unpublished documents spanning the breadth of the papers included in the Amacher Collection. The chronologically grouped documents, ranging from private writings and letters to program notes, manifestos, and proposals for unrealized projects, are framed by interviews in which Amacher discusses corresponding periods of her life. This structure leads readers carefully into the composer’s musical thought as it develops and transforms over time, while working  strenuously against the definitiveness associated with “collected” writings. This study of a still-unfolding body of work approaches its materials as provisional, promissory and open-ended. Here, Cimini and Dietz have compiled a volume full of staggeringly rich primary documents, while probing the issue of what it means to assemble these materials while the question “who was Maryanne Amacher?” remains so open. This collection invites the reader to answer. Because Amacher worked across nearly every imaginable media format, this book will be be of interest to theorists and practitioners of urban design, contemporary art history, media and communications, music and sound studies, film, radio, art criticism, and performance studies—in short, a configuration of disciplines that we might call an Intermedial Humanities. At the same time, this collection challenges any area of music, sound, or media studies that might be remade through the recovery of understudied figures. This volume is about doing things a different way. It is organized to foreground Amacher’s voices and soundworlds  so that—whatever future musical and social constellations might join the ongoing excavation of this practice—readers can experience her work in, and through, her own words. At the time of this writing, the Maryanne Amacher Collection is currently being processed at the New York Public Library, stewarded by Blank Forms and the Maryanne Amacher Foundation. Maryanne Amacher (1938 – 2009) was a composer of large-scale, fixed-duration sound installations, and a highly original thinker in the areas of perception, sound spatialization, creative intelligence, and aural architecture. She is regarded as a pioneer of what has come to be called “sound art,” although her thought and creative practice consistently challenged key assumptions about the capacities and limitations of that genre. Often considered in light of post-Cagean art practices, her work anticipated some of the most important developments in network culture, media arts, acoustic ecology, and sound studies. Bill Dietz is a composer, writer and co-chair of Music/ Sound in the Bard MFA program. Amy Cimini is a musicologist, violist and Assistant Professor of Music at UC San Diego. Her first book, Wild Sound: Maryanne Amacher and the Tenses of Audible Life, is forthcoming in Spring 2021 with Oxford University Press.  

Maryanne Amacher – Selected Writings and Interviews

Double CD documenting the magic meeting of one of the all-time great rhythm sections in jazz: percussionist Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker, with London’s brilliant Black Top (Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas) and Elaine Mitchener. Across two sets the quintet are infectiously energetic and inspired, striding from synchronised heavy groove to star bright solos, whilst incorporating dub effects, guimbri and sumptuous blues piano playing.  Formed by Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas but always realised with an ever changing number of invited musicians, Black Top's blend of lo-fi samples, dub effects and experimental electronics has been daring free improvisation since 2011. Their virtuoso performances draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots with delicious spontienty and humour; the histories of Ridley Road Market, the LIO and Islamic West Africa are sounded out side by side on iPad, marimba and vibraphone. Having met in 2006, Black Top played with bassist William Parker and drummer Hamid Drake as part of their residency at Cafe OTO in 2016; forming a quartet grounded in transatlantic kinship but which looked outward to the Carribean, calypso music and Saharan gnawa rhythms. When Parker and Drake returned to OTO in 2019 Black Top reformed again, but this time with the brilliant addition of vocalist Elaine Mitchener.  Over the last few years the clarity with which Mitchener has explored vocal expression in the global Black Avant Garde has been stunning, but here the range in her influences is manifest, moving effortlessly between phonetic and poetic experimentation and spoken word, all the while at ease with soul soaked jazz and dissonant free fall. A hand drum duet with Hamid Drake astonishes before being laced perfectly with cosmic theremin and Parker’s fantastic acid shehnai.  --- Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Sunday 28th July 2019 by Paul Skinner and mixed and mastered by James Dunn. Photos by Dawid Laskowski and artwork by Oliver Pitt. 

Black Top Presents: Hamid Drake / Elaine Mitchener / William Parker / Orphy Robinson / Pat Thomas – Some Good News

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