John Celona

«« CC Audio Features
Lawrence Russell

John Celona: computer soundtracks, composition
Salvador Ferreras: percussion, voice

John Celona

"I experienced SF's City Lights bookstore as a teenager, Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady and Lenny Bruce; lots of cool and beat people; hearing Trane outside the Jazz Workshop in North Beach, people coming out confused, not knowing what he was saying; eventually those places becoming topless joints [no longer confused] -- and the degradation and dumbing down of society continued and still has lots of steam as the nouveau artiste grabs his crotch and utters 'bitch ass, daddy'."

possible orchestras at the 21st harmonic

Consider the following paradigm: the existential hipster gets caught in the chase for O.J. Police cruisers have him boxed between the fractals of the freeway and the fugitive in a X-Y-Z grid made by their long modal shadows on the Santa Monica asphalt. How did he get in this situation? The spatial architecture of music is the geometry of dream. The fantasy of the listener is in the media noise, the bruitisme of the freeway, the industrial dynamic of speed, machinery and the primal echo.

Says JC: "In the eighties I got into a construction compositional process for electronic/computer music I call Spatial Imaging [now known as surround sound]... my attempt was to render stereo space into a 3-dimensional one... i.e. my composition Possible Orchestras at the 21st Harmonic."

primitive cool

The jungle is alive with the chicka chicka pulse of the cicadas, the chatter of the spider monkeys and the hypnotic tapping of the beautiful jacamar bird as it hunts for insects. Hence the jungle creates its own samba... animals, birds, and insects seemingly photo-electric as they emote a communal hymn to the transit of the sun.

We know that music is onomatopoeic in origin, that it seeks to imitate Nature by entering the spectral vibration. One of the beauties of the opening stanza [the title track Primitive Cool] is how it reaches back into the voodoo of old Africa and articulates the industrial present in the trade-offs between John Celona's synth loops and Sal Ferreras' cross-channel drum rolls. Notice how the percussion has the bottom end wallop of an electric bass, yet leaves the arrangement spatially open for JC's cryptic & catchy compu signature. And notice how this mid-eighties composition anticipates the basic style and vibe of today's electro-dance.

spatial triangles

The movement is inward, nocturnal, mechanistic, like hearing passing autos or aircraft... engines surging, then fading as they follow radio beams, invisible vectors of unknown duration. Triangulation & the cosmic hunger of the Insect Man.

imaging east

Here is the desert caravan shuffle. The camels, elephants and carts move through the dunes, arrive on the supernatural beach... gleaming African women, beaded and tattooed for ritual sex and binary composition. Models from the runways of Paris and New York? Somehow the ursatz is the wasting chic of famine & heroin, Art pimps & jazz plantations, Miles Davis & the ghosts of history who make up the ensemble of American cool. Could be Fellini or Calfornia zen.

to drive in L.A.

The Rileyesque pulse of electro minimalism... in a sense, a farewell to the random electron sweeps of the lab and the ReVox analogue tape loop. Skirting the edge of progressive rock and movie soundtrack drama. Urgent, like the swarming traffic in a huge metro. P.O.V. a chopper following a police chase... or the existential hipster wired by sonar cups to the concrete pylons of a soaring freeway ramp, dialling in the magic rhythm of Detroit and I.B.M.

Primitive Cool was previously released on LP and cassette as part of To Drive In L.A. [Miramar MRSC 101].

John Celona's most recent collaboration with Salvador Ferreras was Tango Loco [2003].

©LR 1/04

«« CC Audio Features

Culture Court