Album: John Cage, Cage Performs Cage (Mode)

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The Independent Culture

John Cage's spoken-word pieces are not to everyone's taste, and the two-and-a-half-hour works featured here illustrate why.

"Empty Words" was originally a ten-hour deconstruction of excerpts from Thoreau's Walden into sentences, phrases and ultimately individual phonemes, a process here telescoped into 30 minutes, Cage's sonorous murmur offering sparse, guttural noises over the parallel performance of his "Music For Piano" played by Yvar Mikhashoff, featuring similarly sparse notation. It's either absorbing or infuriating depending on taste, but does exert a zen-like calm. Less appealing is "One7", a solo piece in which the individual phonemes are too widely spread to be effective. A longueur too longue, frankly.

Download this: "Empty Words/Music For Piano"