Wednesday, October 14, 2020

You Stepped Out of a Dream House: La Monte Young 85

We soldier on through October with another big birthday, this time concerning one of those people whose name few might know, but whose sonic fingerprints are all over every aspect of the music of our epoch.

There are few people who have ever been referred to by the likes of Brian Eno as "The Daddy of us all." In fact, there is but one.

Perhaps more than any other singular figure of modern music, our hero of the hour is responsible for a major conceptual worm-turning that has cascaded down the decades to shape the music we love.

If it could be distilled into its essence, it has to do with repetition and the acceptance of the static or stationary into the palette from which artists and musos are drawing.

Originally a Jazz musician, his detours into Indian vocal music, drone, and protominimalism -- originating with his love of static natural sounds and the hum of the Watts Towers electrical transformers growing up in LA -- led directly to the formation of the Velvet Underground and the coming-into-maturity of Rock music.

Before you dismiss that, remember that John Cale -- co-founder of the VU -- was in this guy's band right up to starting the Velvets.

Legend has it his experiments in the motionless inspired Andy Warhol to begin to make his own films, after being introduced to him by experimental film guru Jonas Mekas.

Any way you slice it, there isn't much denying the preternatural and formative influence the work of La Monte Young has had over the culturescape of the last 60 years, since his first forays into the then-uncharted territory he helped map out.

I think if you asked him, he would tell you he was only trying to make time stand still.

La Monte Young
The Theatre of Eternal Music
Raag Bhairava (Excerpt)
New York City, 1960

01 Raag Bhairava (excerpt 1)
02 Raag Bhairava (excerpt 2)
03 Raag Bhairava (excerpt 3)
04 Raag Bhairava (excerpt 4)
05 Oceans
06 19.10.71 (6.52 - 7.42 pm NYC)

Total time: 1:10:15

Tracks 01-04: home recording of the composer accompanied by his wife in NYC in 1960
Track 05 is from an aborted 1969 CBS Records session
Track 06 is a 1971 home recording

La Monte Young - tamboura & vocals
Marian Zazeela - vocals
other participants unspecified

unissued LP sourced from a boot CD, embellished with 2 bonus tracks from other unissued tapes, the latter of which was extensive declicked by EN, October 2020

I added a couple of related bonus cuts to this one, including the infamous rejected 1969 beach session for CBS that has never seen an official issue.

We'll continue with the Octo-postings in a few days, but I wanted to make sure I tributed La Monte Young --  a true pioneer I've been meaning to cover forever -- on here before I get carted off by the RIAA to the Copyright Gulag, you know? Long may his Piano be Well-Tuned!--J.


  1. thank u for this, how to be diplomatic, he has strong views on the availability of his recordings. be careful. i talked to him on the phone once as i am a composer and he was very nice, generous with his time and views.