Charles Amirkhanian: Mental Radio

(From the CRI LP Archives). Originally released by CRI in 1985, this CD re-issue from New World Records makes available nine text-sound works by composer, poet, percussionist, and Other Minds Executive & Artistic Director Charles Amirkhanian. A leading exponent of text-sound composition, Amirkhanian has since 1965 used speech as the primary element in his music. His quixotic and often non-syntactical use of American English treats words as percussion objects, revealing in its intense rhythms the composer's background as a drummer. Humor and irony abound as well, and in performance Amirkhanian uses his tapes as accompaniment for added live vocal lines while enveloped by the moving image projections (films and slides) of visual artist Carol Law. From the composer's liner notes to Mental Radio: " The title of this album is borrowed from a book by Upton Sinclair, the socialist writer and novelist whose nearly-successful candidacy for governor of the state of California in 1934 took the West Coast establishment by surprise. Sinclair's Mental Radio is a volume of non-fiction on the subject of mental telepathy. The writer had always been fascinated with books on subjects in the realm we now term 'parapsychology.' He then married a woman who had exhibited what he assured his readers was an indisputable ability to perform telepathic information retrieval. This the book documents in some 239 pages, published by Albert and Charles Boni (New York, 1930). Mental Radio remains one of Sinclair's forgotten volumes, and when I recently encountered it by surprise in a collector's bookshop I realized that the title, in reference to my forthcoming LP, struck a particular resonance because of my long service in the field of radio broadcasting and because of the interior, close-up qualities of word and voice which make these works particularly suited for radio presentation. In concert, the pieces are performed live by me with tape accompaniment, and often with slide projections by the visual artist Carol Law. The result is a theatrical environment such as the one seen on the front cover of this album - a performance photograph of Maroa.

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