David Cunningham - Grey Scale
First time reissue of David Cunningham's landmark debut, originally on Piano, the label he founded in 1976 for the purpose of releasing Grey Scale. Piano would go on to release some pivotal records, most notably those early recordings by This Heat, as well as some lesser known gems by Steve Beresford, Tony Sinden, and much later, the CD version of the legendary General Strike collection. Grey Scale contains the DNA for all that followed it on Piano, a well-defined MO straight out the gate. Most will know Cunningham for his ties to the Flying Lizards, and of course he incorporated some of his avant instincts into their sideways post-punk melange, but on Grey Scale he's drawing on a universe of sound a good way removed from the subversive pop-timism of 'Money' and the like. If Cunningham defined himself as a non-musician, then he was one at least one well schooled in the dynamics of minimal electronic composition. There's a child-like playbox naivety to a few of the aptly titled Error System tracks, though it's not by chance - a group of fellow non-musicians were directed to repeat a phrase to the point of error, at which point the error then became the next object of direction and focus. It makes for an unpredictable, ever-evolving set of compositions, moving in organic, very human symbiosis. In that sense, Grey Scale stands as an example of pure improvisation, one that avoids orthodoxy by refusing to be in service to expected musical convention. Side A is the conceptual heart of the record, though the B side, where Cunningam is mostly playing alone, is the side i return to the most, a DIY rendering of Cageian minimalism and free jazz anti-dogma. As i said at the start - a landmark recording and one that should never have been out of print.
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