Genres: experimental, sound art
224 Centre Street at Grand, Third Floor
New York, NY 10013
Feb 24 - Mar 2 2003
musician Gen Ken Montgomery aka Ken Montgomery aka EGNEKN
is well-known on the experimental scene for creating intriguing,
inventive sound sculptures from many different sources. His
memorable compositions using household appliances as sound sources
are among some of his best, and his ties to the performance art scene
of tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE and the fantastic Generator Sound
Art label (as well as the Generator sound gallery) prove his variety as a
This double-cd set, a career retrospective if you will, gives a
nice sample of Montgomery's experimental work to date.
Although the material from his old Gen Ken Beat Musik
and Gen Con Live electronic pop cassettes, as well as the
surely copyright-infringing Egnekn broken 8-track recordings
(essentially a series of old Led Zepellin tunes gutted by a
malfunctioning 8-track deck), are missing, this is a fine collection
of his more serious sound art.
"Father Demo Swears" takes up thirty-one and a half
minutes of the first disc, and for good reason. A live recording
of "amplified violin, voice, a microphone hung outside the
window, and four cassettes designed to be played simultaneously"
processed live (see more here),
it is a mysteriously alluring soundscape that relies just as much on
the incidental sounds of cars passing by the window as it does on the
sounds produced by the artists themselves.
The short "Radiator I" then follows - it's an excerpt
from Ken's work with CHOP SHOP using a rickety old
radiator for a source. An excerpt from "Egnekn's
Fridge" comes a bit later; a memorable recording released on the
Art is Throwing Money Out The Window label, it documents the sounds
inside Montgomery's fridge in wonderful detail.
"Bird Eating," originally created for a Brooklyn sound art
exhibition, documents the (very quiet) sounds of a parrot eating nuts
in a cage - it's best to listen to it before finding out what's
actually been recorded to maintain a sense of mystery.
A few tracks later, we have a two-minute piece called
"Laminator Model 2291," which is a recording of a laminator
in action. Montgomery has a special affinity for the
sounds of laminators, and this is one of many recordings he's done
using the lamination process.
One of the most mysterious tracks on the first disc is
"Shortwave Band," which is a haunting, ambient soundscape
using a droning shortwave radio feed as its source. As the
microphone is slowly moved away from the radio, the sound becomes
farther away, detached. As it is moved closer, the sound becomes
more powerful, intense. Altogether it's a very effective piece.
The second disc, in contrast to the first, is a collection of live
performances. After a thirty second silence, we are treated to
"Droneskipclickloop," a fantastic sound experience that
combines the contents of four separate cds - Drone, Skip,
Click, and Loop - which are available from Generator Sound
Art in an edition of four 3-inch CDRs. The sounds are derived
from a number of sources, including the noises of Andrea Beeman's
dance movements. Although it clearly would have worked best in a
live setting, the piece is amazing when played in a dark room - the
bizarre noises give off a very trancey, relaxing feeling.
After this comes a piece by the name of "The Aquarium Fishtank
Symphony," which is based on the sounds produced by a group
of objects gathered from a local Salvation Army the day before the
performance. Among the "instruments" are an eggbeater,
a Fisher Price sewing machine, an ice crusher, a fish tank (complete
with plastic fish), and an aquarium pump. The results are a
fantastic example of the various types of sounds that can be produced from a bunch of
seemingly nondescript objects.
The collection finishes off, quite appropriately, with "Knäckerbröt
Action," a two and a half minute recording of the lamination of a
piece of Swedish crispbread (called Knäckerbröt). The struggle
of getting the bread through the laminator is quite obvious, and the
resulting sounds are mesmerizingly mysterious - what's happening
now? ... has it been laminated yet? ... is the machine still
Altogether, Pondfloorsample is a terrific collection of Gen
Ken's sound art work. Those familiar with his work will
doubtlessly find this album to be a completely rewarding purchase.
Fun Fact: Ken's appreciation of
lamination goes far beyond a few simple audio recordings. He has
performed many public "Lamination Ritual" performances in
which he hooks up a series of contact microphones to a laminator and
then sends something through it to be laminated (previous objects have
included a noodle, bubble wrap, and even a fortune cookie). A CD
was released, called The Sound of Lamination, and an online
gallery of laminated objects from a Lamination Ritual at the Salvaggio
Museum (including the shed skin of a tarantula) can be viewed here.
19 songs, distributed by Forced
Exposure, released 2002]