John Oswald

John Oswald has for four decades explored the outer fringes of perception in listening, creating situations where any visual input is negated, or where a single aspect of sound is surveyed, such as the 2000 work 'Aparanthesi' which is made up exclusively of one note in ten octaves morphing through many recognizable settings. He has been devising compositions from appropriated musical sources since the late '60s. His 1975 track 'Power' married frenetic Led Zeppelin guitars to the impassioned exhortations of a Southern US evangelist at least 10 years before hip hop discovered the potency of the same (and related) ingredients. Similarly, his 1990 track 'Vane', for example' which pitted two different versions of the song 'You're So Vain' (the Carly Simon original and a cover by Faster Pussycat) against each other, was a blueprint for the contemporary bastard pop subgenre, 'mash ups'.Oswald coined the term 'plunderphonics' to describe his illegitimate craft in a 1985 essay entitled 'Plunderphonics, or Audio Piracy as a Compositional Prerogative'. It has since been applied to any music made by taking one or more existing audio recordings and altering them in some way to make a new composition. There is no attempt to disguise the fact that the sounds making up the composition have been 'borrowed' in this way, and sometimes the sounds may be taken from very familiar sources. Plunderphonics can be considered a form of sound collage.In 1993 Oswald released PLEXURE. Arguably his most ambitious composition to date, it attempted to microsample the history of CD music up to that point (1982 - 1992) in a 20 minute collage of bewildering complexity, incorporating 'electroquotes' from more than a thousand pop songs.Since then he has composed a group of works in traditional notation for live soloists, ensembles and orchestras which are contemporary transformations of familiar pieces from the classical repertoire (these new versions he has classified as a 'Rascali Klepitoire').Since 1999 he has also been creating stand-alone visual works, blurring the traditional forms of photography, painting, collage, fim and video, including the massive projection project 'Withinstandstillnessence'.


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