Arnold Dreyblatt (b.1953) is an American composer who has studied with La Monte Young, Pauline Oliveros and Alvin Lucier. He is a member of the German Academy Of Art. He has released work on labels such as Table Of The Elements, Canteloupe, Tzadik, Hat Art and Dexter's Cigar.
Turntable History is a recording of a 40 minute multi-channel sound composition which was concieved as part of an audio-visual installation installed in the circular vaulted brick space of a historical water container in Berlin in 2009. The original sound content is derived from recordings made by Arnold Dreyblatt of a Magnetic Resonance Imagining Scanner ("Siemens Magnetom Symphony Maestro Class") in a radiological practice in Berlin. Dreyblatt was fortunate to gain rare permission to record this device in operation without patients being involved. A technician from Siemens manned the machine especially for these recordings, searching for software settings related to their resulting sonic output rather for scanning particular body areas. Dreyblatt treated the device as a giant "Tesla coil", in which the alignment and resonances of a powerful magnetic field is gradually altered by rotating radio frequencies. Dreyblatt analysed and deconstructed the original recordings and grouped the audio segments by pitch, rhythm and density. The resulting five-channel composition of harmonically resonating, pulsating signals, sounded within this voluminous reflective space (with long delay times) is wonderfully captured in this recording.
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
Signal To Noise:
Arnold Dreyblatt’s art installations can never be summed up by a title, and so it is with Turntable History. It is not named for a record player, but for its central visual device, a rotating surface bearing projectors that beam images and text which at some points move at such a rate that they seem to be standing still and at other points spin around the installation’s space, an old water storage facility in Berlin. The projections include blueprints of the cistern walls upon which they are being projected; if I’d actually seen the thing, this piece might be about the relationship between the abstract and the concrete. But all we have at hand is the sound portion of the piece, which is also the result of abstraction. Dreyblatt started with the sounds of an MRI machine, which he had an operator calibrate according to sonic criteria rather than the best settings for imaging body parts. Dreyblatt then played these sounds through five speakers into the space while the turntable turned, and what the microphones snatched as the sounds caromed around the cistern are what you hear on this CD.
Dreyblatt has come up with something that sounds completely different from the music for which he’s best known whilst addressing the same essential concern, which is at the heart of so much minimalist music — the interaction of tones to create overtones and beats. On records like Animal Magnetism or the criminally out of print compendium The Sound Of One String, the tones are bright and lively. They come from specially tuned stringed instruments, and they’re marshaled into vibrant, dancing tunes. But on Turntable History they’re nakedly electronic and loathe to change, beaming out until they’re cut off or mixed by spacial incident into another tone. The recording does an impressive job of suggesting the effect of the cistern’s natural delay upon the electronic sounds, but it can’t impart the piece’s visual component, and without it the sounds feel incomplete. Taken a few minutes at a time their interactions are fascinating, but over the duration of 40 minutes uninterrupted by track indexing the music grows a bit wearing. While serious Dreyblatt students should hear this album, since it’s the only extent example of his work in the electronic realm, novices would do better to pick up Animal Magnetism.