La Monte Young ‎– II

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One of the most iconic bootlegs in Young’s catalog is a series of eleven cassettes that appeared sometime in the 80’s. Released by the “Velvet Underground Appreciation Society”, the suite remains one of the most comprehensive surveys of the composers work. Though each tape credits a radio broadcast as its source, most fans believe it to be a well know musician (who will remain unnamed), who reputedly borrowed them from Young’s archive and made copies. For the sake of clarity, this unnamed figure was only responsible for sharing these recordings with friends, not for issuing the cassettes to a wider public. Over the years I’ve hunted for the original bootlegs, but have yet to discover any. They’re pretty rare, and given how unlikely it is to obtain the material otherwise, fans are unlikely to give them up. 

II is (descriptively) the second cassette issued in the Velvet Underground Appreciation Society series (of those dedicated to Young) – which as the cover describes, set out to explore the origins of the Velvet Underground’s unique sound. It contains three recordings of very early works in Young’s career. Despite what the cover suggests, these are not recordings by the Theatre of Eternal Music. 

The works predate the group, and in no way resemble their resulting collaborations. They are works that were composed while Young was closely aligned with Fluxus, and are directly connected to the ideas of Concept Art and performance embraced by that collective. The first work Poem for Table, Benches, and Chairs, Etc. (1960) draws heavily on John Cage’s ideas about reorienting the listener’s relationship to sound. Within it, the performers drag Tables, Benches, Chairs, and related objects, across the floor. Their actions, and the resulting scraping sounds, are the work. It’s wonderful, crazy, very dislocating if you forget the source, and remarkably foreshadows a great deal of Noise which emerged decades later. (review taken from the Hum- Bradford Bailey)