From the Monochrome Vision label (in Russia, of all places) comes a collection of Gen Ken Montgomery works from 1986 to 1991. Montgomery’s prolific nature means it is by no means complete; but still invaluble for assembling disparate works now relatively unavailable, previously unreleased, or truncated in their original outing.
On this disc, Montgomery’s title track is the main feature. Sourced completely from a modified Casio MS-10 keyboard, Montgomery wrings a breathtaking variety of sounds from this miniature machine. Originally presented as an eight-channel concert, “Drilling Holes in the Walls” does not let listeners down. If anything, more current electronics artists should be ashamed for the paucity of their work, given the ubiquitous nature of enormously-powerful synthesizers at their disposal today!
“New Age Machines,” now apparently complete for the first time due to the inclusion of an additonal ten minutes, harkens to the classic days of electroacoustic music. Conjuring visions of the INA-GRM, Montgomery proceeds to flesh out a science fiction machine of epic proportions– or as my daughter puts it, “something like technology, and critters, and maybe two trashcan lids banging?”
As consistently holds true with any of Montgomery’s works, it is the listener’s willingness and enthusiasm for sound that will make or break its perceived value. Take “Icebreaker,” for instance. As one of Montgomery’s favorite noise-makers (along with various laminators), the ice-crusher commands our full attention, merrily rumbling and squeaking and crushing along– it’s something like the Wall-e of it’s day, I guess. These sounds are of interest to Montgomery, apparently right up there with any of the more commonly-cited natural sounds of interest: birds, rain, seashores, etc. Although increasingly processed into something more abstract, listeners should have a healthy appreciation for sound of all kinds before seeking this disc out.
Of particular interest to me, however, is the live cut “Don’t Bring Those Things.” Referencing Montgomery’s exasperation with East Berlin for denying entry to his homemade electronics (to the point that he was forced to borrow equipment for a live performance) the track is a lovely example of Montgomery’s aesthetic, unfiltered by the studio, and one of only a couple times I’ve heard his voice in a recording.