John Cage, Cage Performs Cage – Empty Words; One7

George Grella

By George Grella

on 08.13.11 in Reviews
Hypnotic and deeply moving

The final document, recorded the year before his death, Cage reading/performing, accompanied by pianist Yvar Mikhashoff. There are no words, really, by design and also by sad circumstance. Empty Words is a text piece from Cage, where he took writing from his hero Thoreau and gradually removed layers of construction until there was nothing but letters and sounds, yoking the great anti-Establishment figure to the goal of removing the autocracy of syntax. One⁷ goes even further, providing a total of 10 vocal sounds to be performed by the speaker over the course of 30 minutes. Cage had been ill for years and had already been debilitated by a stroke, so there is the sense of not only an artist working within his limits, but of an artist struggling with limitations. The Music For Piano is an appropriately austerely beautiful accompaniment, the overall experience is hypnotic and deeply moving.