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Snow, Michael - The Last LP: Unique Last Recordings of Ancient Cultures

Format: LP
Label: Art Metropole
Year: 1987
Origin: Toronto, Ontario
Genre: electronic, experimental, concrete, free
Value of Original Title: 
Make Inquiry/purchase: email
Release Type: Albums
Websites:  No
Playlist: Ontario, Experimental & Electronic


Side 1

Track Name
Wu Ting Dee Lin Chao Cheu (Announcing the Arrival of Emperor Wu Ting)
Si Nopo Da (By What Signs Will I Come to Understand?)
I Ching Dee Yen Tzen (The Strings of Love)
Pohlnovyessnikh (Full to the Brim)
Speech In Klogen

Side 2

Track Name
Mbowunsa Mpahiya (Battle Song of Bowunsa)
Quuiasukpuq Quai Gami (He Is Happy Because He Came)
Amitabha Chenden Kala (The Simultaneous Welcome of Amitabha)
Roiakuriluo (Dawn Ceremony)
Raga Lalat


No Photos


No Video


In 1987, Snow issued The Last LP (Art Metropole), which purported to be a documentary disc of the dying gasps of ethnic musical cultures from around the globe including Tibet, Syria, India, China Brazil, Finland and elsewhere, with more thousands of words of pseudo-scholarly supplementary notes, but was, in fact, a series of multi-tracked recordings of Snow himself, who gave the joke away only in a single column of text in the disc's gatefold jacket, printed backwards and readable in a mirror. One track, purported to be a document of a coming-of-age ritual from Niger, is a pastiche of Whitney Houston's song "How Will I Know.""

Canadian artist/filmaker Michael Snow was originally a professional Jazz musician and has made many rare recordings and countless performances of experimental and conceptual music since the 1970s. Now 78 years old, Snow still periodically performs in the Toronto area with his avant/free jazz/noise band CCMC. Can there be any such thing, Snow once asked, as "fake music"? This now rare and expensive album was re-issued on CD by Art Metropole in 1994 as "The Last LP
here's additional bio information from the canadian encyclopedia
Snow, Michael (James Aleck). Pianist, trumpeter, composer, film maker, sculptor, painter, photographer,
b Toronto 10 Dec 1929. Although more immediately identified with the visual arts (eg, the sculpture-
graphic series Walking Woman,1961-7, and the films Wavelength, 1967, and La Région centrale, 1970-
1), Snow has also been involved for many years in improvised music. He was encouraged by the
boogie-woogie pianist Jimmy Yancey during visits to Chicago in the late 1940s, and played piano in
Toronto traditional-jazz groups while a student 1948-52 at the Ontario College of Art. He took up the
trumpet in the early 1950s.
After playing piano with the dixieland trumpeter Mike White 1958-61 and with his own bebop groups
1958-62, Snow was drawn to free jazz through his association with the Artists' Jazz Band in Toronto and
with the free-jazz movement's leaders in New York, some of whom (Albert Ayler, Don Cherry, et al)
appeared in his film New York Eye and Ear Control (1964). He has continued to perform with the
Artists' Jazz Band and was a member 1966-7 of the Toronto New Music Ensemble and a founder in 1974
of the CCMC. The last, with which he has played piano, trumpet, guitar and synthesizer, served as the
focus of his musical activities through the 1980s, although he also gave solo piano concerts in
Toronto, Québec City and New York.
Snow's solo albums, meanwhile, extend into the medium of sound the same extensive manipulation of a
single idea theme or technique that is characteristic of his work in the visual arts - eg, the 50-minute
Sinoms, in which he has multi-tracked some 20 voices, with as many different French and English
accents, reading a complete list of the mayors of Québec City, at some points making a simple
juxtaposition of pronunciation and at others creating the effect of a choir. In his films, beginning with
New York Eye and Ear Control, he has often drawn musical and visual elements together to create an
'image-sound composition'.

Producer, Written-by, Percussion, Drums, Trumpet, Vocals, Synthesizer [Casio], Tape – Michael Snow
Wu Ting Dee Lin Chao Cheu (Announcing The Arrival Of Emperor Wu Ting) performed by Orchestra Of The National Music Insitute, Seoul Korea.
Si Nopo Da (By What Signs Will I Come To Understand?) performed by Tribe Of Niger, S.E Africa.
Ohwachira, Water ceremony performed by Miantonomi and Cree Tribespeople.
I Ching Dee Yen Tzen (The Strings Of Love) performed by Tam Wing Lun on the Hui Tra.
Full To The Brim recorded in Varda, Carpathia, Romania.
Speech In Klogen performed by Okash, Northern Finland.
Mbowunsa Mpahiya performed by Kpam Kpam Tribe, Angola, West Africa.
Quuiasukpuq performed by Tornarssuk Tribe, Siberia
Amitabha Chenden Kala performed by Monks Of The Kagyupa Sect, Bhutan.
Roiakuriluo performed by Sabane in Elahe, Brazil.
Raga Lalat performed by Palak Chawal, Benares, India.

"Title of the album refers to the disappearance of the 331/3 rpm microgroove vinyl/stylus format. This recording was issued in the last days of the LP and was conceived of then as an investigation into the effects (both negative and positive) of "Western" recording technology on the world's few remaining, at the time of recording, ancient pre-industrial cultures."

Reissue on CD under the same catalogue number in 1994.

All informations taken from the sleeve and reproduced here are part of the record as a pure conceptual artefact (a man-made object taken as a whole). In fact all recordings were performed and "assembled by" the artist himself and subsequently all other credits mentioned on the text sleeve - also written by Michael Snow - are completely invented.

[In 1994 I wrote a review of Snow's Sound/Music for Fuse Magazine. Although I praised many aspects of the book, the review had a snarky tone and contained one or two ignorant claims, which I regret. This short unpublished review was meant, in some way, as atonement. It was, more directly, meant to redress a specific lack I found in Sound/Music: a discussion of one of favourite works, and one I think significant, The Last LP. I submitted it to C Magazine, which rejected it. I also sent it to Snow, who had been upset by my review of Sound/Music. He did not care for it. I did not send the piece anywhere else, but still harbour vague intentions of writing about The Last LP CD.]

Michael Snow's The Last LP CD: Unique Last Recordings of the Music of Ancient Cultures

Michael Snow's 1987 LP The Last LP has recently been re-released on CD as The Last LP CD. It is, as it says in the introduction to the extensive liner notes, "a single work, albeit made up of discrete, distinctive individual elements: the LP record [or CD], the music, the texts and the jacket."

The texts alone are an elaborate metafiction. But instead of creating a fictional world solely through language, Snow pushes the fiction from the realm of the symbolic (texts) into that of the real (the images on the jacket and sound on the CD). The texts are embodied, extruded into the real.

The Last LP CD is a mock ethnographic recording. The urgency behind ethno musicological field recordings is that they preserve traditional music that is under the threat of either becoming tainted with outside influence or outright disappearance. Snow's work parodically exaggerates this aspect of ethnography. These recordings are each purported to be the final possible — an unrepeatable record of a last performance. In some cases it is the process of recording itself that imperils whatever obscure tribes people are the current subjects. "Michael Snow" wipes out an entire Lapland tribe by introducing them to the Hong Kong flu: the ethnographer as unwitting agent of genocide.

The music itself tends toward the ridiculous. My favourite piece is "Si Noopa Da" with its joyous frenetic yelping voices and handclaps. The liner notes inform us that its part of a coming-of-age ritual performed by twenty girls and women of the Ba-Sa-So-Sho tribe of Niger. The secret liner notes (readable when reflected in a mirror) reveal that the composition is sixteen layers of Snow's voice singing around Whitney Houston's "How Will I Know."

Like most metafictions, The Last LP CD isn't really meant to fool us — the fun is in playing along and seeing where it takes us. A certain complicity develops between the audience and the "Michael Snow" we construct behind the work, a "Michael Snow" who mugs and winks at us conspiratorially from a pile of dopey puns.

For all its conceptual jokiness, the work enacts a doubled gesture of genocide. The initial gesture, embedded within the work, is Snow's paraodic critique of the project of ethnography. The second gesture is extra-textual and resides in the relationship between Snow and "Michael Snow." It is enacted somewhere in the gap between the fictional annihilation of fictional peoples and the production of actual (though faked) music. The act of faking ethnographic artifacts from fictional peoples you've just killed off is audacious. But, as it says in the liner notes: "Against the losses of ancient social music we must balance the arrival of the new global creative individual, with previo


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