Notes and Editorial Reviews
The American composer-performer Ingram Marshall was born in 1942 and studied in New York with Vladimir Ussachevsky and Morton Subotnik. He has investigated traditional Indonesian music, visiting Java and Bali, and many of his works involve tape playback or live electronics. Marshall has something in common with the performing artists of the 1970s generation and he has responded to minimalism with results that may sometimes suggest John Adams (track 2, for example).
Alcatraz is indeed about the famous Californian island prison, now deserted—a macabre spectacle as caught in the photographs of Jim Bengston of which there are 22 examples in the CD booklet. Many such photographs were sent from Bengston to Marshall and these
enriched his already developed fascination for the sounds of the San Francisco Bay area. Marshall made recordings at Alcatraz itself and then composed with the photographs in front of him. Finally he was not satisfied with merely illustrating a picture book and devised a type of live performance. The first took place in San Francisco in 1984 and further realizations in various parts of the world have followed. These apparently consisted of a two-hour performance from tape with the photographs available to the audience before and after whilst ambient music (tracks 1 and 10) could be heard as background.
The result of all this, purely as a recording, is variously evocative, nostalgic or sinister. Track 6 is based on the baleful sound of the cell doors being closed mechanically—as menacingly final as the closing of the castle gates in Debussy's Pelleas. Perhaps not here, though, since there is a section called ''Escape''—track 8, which leads straight into track 9, ''End'', which is rather trite compared with the landscape representations. Alcatraz is at times mesmeric and often uncanny in its power to conjure up the setting, even if there is not a lot of substance to go back to and it might make a greater impact as a film. Perhaps the CD booklet should, in any case, offer more information about the history of the prison.'
-- Peter Dickinson, Gramophone (8/1992)
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