Generating the largest number of album returns in history, and being pulled from the market entirely only three weeks after its release, "Metal Machine Music" nearly finished Mr. Reed's career (there is now a standard clause in record label contracts stipulating that artists must deliver recordings that reflect the work that the label is signing them for, informally known as the "Metal Machine Music clause").It must be nice to be someone who actually does stuff like this rather than just think about it.
In 2000, however, a 25th anniversary reissue was released by BMG, and two years later the German experimental music ensemble Zeitkratzer painstakingly transcribed the original recording, and performed it with Mr. Reed as a special guest. A CD/DVD package of the concert has just been issued by Asphodel.
It's a bold move, since the original piece is totally electronic and Zeitkratzer is all acoustic....The screeching, high-pitched, high-speed melodic figures from the original "Metal Machine Music" are consigned to violins on Zeitkratzer's version, while the horns (saxophone, trumpet, tuba) hold the drone tones (an accordion does a little of both). Tremelos generated with a Fender Tremelo unit on Mr. Reed's original are reproduced manually by a cellist and a contrabassist frantically bowing their instruments. A percussionist handles the low frequencies, as well as other scratchy sounds from the original electronics (the performance footage on the DVD makes this much clearer than the CD, where the sound is often unrecognizable as being acoustic).
Wednesday, September 05, 2007
There's a nice article in the New York Sun about Zeitkratzer's version of Metal Machine Music. Here's a bit: