Necromantic Glissando / Necromantic Bounce

by Nick James Scavo
Jul 25, 2019

Necromantic Glissando was released as a cassette by Bánh Mì Verlag, an imprint dedicated to contemporary experimental music and culture run by Jack Callahan. The cassette was produced for Neo-Pastiche: Changes in American Music, a critical musical gathering featuring presentations by living American composers and performers.

Necromantic Glissando was recorded live on August 23rd, 2018 for Bánh Mì Verlag’s Pennies from Heaven series at Control Synthesizers & Electronic Devices.

Necromantic Bounce was recorded live on March 24th, 2019 at Bossa Nova Civic Club.

Necromantic Glissando is a presentation of ~1,000 “institutionalized” samples organized as a waltz rhythm, slideshow, and glissando oscillating between 15 and 185 BPM. Taking seriously and whimsically Henry Flynt’s anti-art treatise “From Culture to Veramusement,” specifically his assessment that institutionalized amusement is not a cogent activity, the piece presents a palette of sounds described as “Necromanticism” — a form of non-narrative fiction that romantically celebrates not the teleological death of music performance, but the deadness of it.

In response, Necromantic Glissando is a stacked presentation of hundreds of experimental performances in institutionalized contexts, as well as self-produced recordings, composed into an arrangement that exaggerates a flatness of sound, a general materialism of the audio file, and (hopefully) the basic execution of a compositional approach or technique — in this case the use of a volume pedal and click track to emphasize and cut-out the dynamics of the waltz and rising/falling action of the glissando. In playful homage to Flynt’s critique of the arbitrary nature of text scores and word pieces — their “blatantly sailing under false colors, and being pulled by mutually nullifying purposes” — the piece is considered to be for strings and ”bowed.” Necromantic Glissando is also considered to be a kind of “Traditional Music of a Wrecked Species,” described in one of my essays published in 2017.

Generally, Necromanticism is a doomed and mad romance with the renunciated “deadness” of music (killed by Flynt’s Concept Art). Necromanticism aesthetically emphasizes a summoning of sound (necromancy) as an act of conjuring dead cultural contexts and musical materials as a way for humans to commune around non-human expressions of the meaningful. In Necromantic compositions, sound is treated as a corpse, and performance an open casket wake. The gesture is meant as a contemporary, if not doomed, attempt to cultivate empathy and romance. Necromantic Glissando uses the programme of historical minimalism as a shitty “spellbook” for conjuring the corpse of sound — exaggerating the dance of the institution as a zombie, and compositional techniques as amorous manipulations of the walking dead.

— Nick James Scavo