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Michael Nardone, « LISTEN! LISTEN! LISTEN! Jackson Mac Low’s Phonopoetics », AModern, 2015.

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It is from within these protean constructions of sound and sense that I want to begin this listening of Mac Low’s 1971 performance at Sir George Williams University (SGWU) in Montreal. The earliest recording of a performance presently available by the American poet, composer, and multimedia performance artist, the 1971 phonotext presents an entirely undocumented mode of Mac Lowian composition. No other recording of Mac Low captures the breadth of his compositions from the mid-1950s through to the early 1970s, and no other presents his extensive use of phonotextual materials in performance. In this essay, I trace out these undocumented aspects of Mac Low’s phonopoetics through a close listening of the performance that always keeps in mind the wider contexts in and through which these compositions make noise. Here, I pursue the ways in which Mac Low’s sonic architectures resonate aspects of his moment’s soundscape – of the Vietnam War, counter-cultures, mass protests and mass media – as he performs a “critical remixing” of his own personal archive of sounds.

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