Various Artists – Koch Records, John Cage: A Chance Operation

George Grella

By George Grella

on 08.13.11 in Reviews
A massive tribute of fragments in various contexts

A massive tribute made up of tiny fragments, recorded at various times, places and in various contexts. Contributors include friends and colleagues of Cage, like Earl Brown, Yoko Ono, Jackson Mac Lowe and David Tudor, and well-intentioned artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto and Ken Nordine, who don’t have a clear grasp on Cage’s ideas. You, the listener, are a key component in how the tribute works. Listen to the 183 tracks in order, from beginning to end, and it seems both overstuffed and to miss the point. But set your player on shuffle, and you are witness to…Cage. Too much of the same thing consecutively reveals the kind of intention that Cage loathed, but the short pieces, most under a minute, in rapid and random juxtaposition, lose their context and become an intriguing, free-floating assemblage of sound, for us to with what we wish. That makes it true.