Notes on the Beckman Sonata

by Michael Parker

When the band first told me of their idea for a Beckman Sonata, I told them it was inane and not worthy of their efforts. ``Think about it,'' they said, and ten minutes later I'd come up with half a dozen important statements that such an album would make. They assure me I'm on the low side.

A ``sonata'' is a multipart musical work for one or two instruments. In the case of the Beckman Sonata, the first instrument is the pre-recorded material on the cassette: Blur's ``Leisure,'' Slaughter's ``Up All Night'' single, etc. The second instrument is a pair of strong, permanent magnets used to erase each tape.

Although the Beckman Sonata was originally intended to be a sort of performance art, it also succeeds as actual music. The steady throb of the tape hiss combined with the occasional muffled remnant of the original recording produces a fascinating ``ambient'' album that merits many listenings.

The band has promised me that this will be their only foray into such ``extreme'' music. Holding the finished product in my hand, I wonder how much further they'd planned on going.

--Michael Parker, January 1996, Pasadena

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