William PerrineJul 9, 2023
Radical, Experimental, & Irrelevant Music in 1970s San Diego
Billingsgate Media 2023
Alien Territory: Radical, Experimental, & Irrelevant Music in 1970s San Diego (Billingsgate Media, 2023) is the untold story of a sleepy Navy town that became the unlikely gathering point for some of the most innovative, unclassifiable American artists of their time. The late 60s arrival of Harry Partch -- hobo composer, iconoclast and inventor of instruments such as the Harmonic Canon and Quadrangularis Reversum -- jump started a revolution that was as much social as it was musical, drawing on the occult, self-realization and radical political movements of 70s Southern California. Artists as diverse as Partch, Pauline Oliveros, Kenneth Gaburo, Roger Reynolds, Diamanda Galás, Warren Burt, David Dunn, Robert Turman and Master Wilburn Burchette may have pursued different paths -- Sonic Meditations, compositional linguistics, microtonal scales, invented instruments, cutting edge electronics, underwater synthesizers, Tibetan throat singing, environmental sound, pure noise -- but they also sought to dismantle the systems of American life and replace them with a radically inclusive and socially responsive aesthetic that looked to the future even when it sometimes referenced a distant, idyllically imagined past. In their pursuit of "Irrelevant Music" -- Kenneth Gaburo's term for an untainted music free of constraint and compromise -- these disparate artists constitute a shadow history of American experimental music far removed from the European and East Coast models of the time.
Bill Perrine is the director of the documentaries Children of the Stars, It’s Gonna Blow!!! San Diego’s Music Underground, 1986-96, and Why Are We Doing This In Front of People?
Bradley Morgan is a media arts professional in Chicago and author of U2's The Joshua Tree: Planting Roots in Mythic America. He manages partnerships on behalf of CHIRP Radio 107.1 FM, serves as a co-chair of the associate board at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and volunteers in the music archive at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Bradley Morgan on Twitter.