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Ashley, Robert / Now Eleanor's Idea
Album:Now Eleanor's Idea Collection:Classical
Artist:Ashley, Robert Added:10/2007
Label:Lovely Music, Ltd 

A-File Activity
Add Date:2008-07-13 Pull Date:2008-09-14 Charts:Classical/Experimental
Week Ending:7 Sep10 Aug27 Jul20 Jul
Airplays:1112

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Album Review
David McWade
Reviewed 2008-05-26 

Avant-Pop-experimentation (for lack of a better word) from the Lovely Music label, the label that produced Alvin Lucier and others. Robert Ashley is a big time classical experimental composer (co-founder ONCE group, active since the 1960s, look him up in www.allmusic.com) and this album has a Laurie Anderson feel, only better! In fact, Amy X Neuburg is a major player in this, although it’s Joan LaBarbara that sounds like Laurie. Apparently originally recorded or performed in 1993, this is a 2-CD set of four operas, each about 22 minutes long, based on the notion of a sequence of events seen from 4 different points of view. See http://www.lovely.com/titles/cd1009.html. On the first track, the title character Now Eleanor, working at THE BANK, has a sort of religious xperince (sic) that fills her with an ‘approach of the end of the world feeling’. This feeling compels her to leave her job in the Midwest, move to New Mexico, and become a newscaster to try to discover the point where the religions of America—Judaism, Protestantism, Business and Catholicism—merge. But there is more in store for her than she realizes...

Note that track 3 (CD2 track 1) is called 'Questions and Answers' and track 4 (CD2 track 2) is called 'The Song'. Rec: 1, 3

1 The BANK. Robert Ashley speaks, higher voice repeats what he says over intimate, pretty ambience. Basic cultural theory/philosophy speech over spiritual matters here. Joan Labarbara as Now Eleanor at the last minute. Brilliant stuff, totally worth the length.
2 Now Eleanor again, for about 3 minutes over Spanish translation speaking of the importance of cars. Then more ambience over foreign languages. At the 4:30 mark a long dialogue about a man and his cars over foreign languages, at 14:45 female voice speaks. This piece makes me think of Marshall McLuhan’s rather conservative mysticism. Now Eleanor speaks more profound words for the last 1+ minutes over very dark music.
3 this one starts a bit more aggressive in its discourse, and after three minutes switches abruptly to a really lovely, weird, dark piece. Different types of speaking and opera co-exist and I can’t even begin to explain what is said. Much more lush and less minimal than track 1, and lots of changes. A lot of Spanish discourse, as Joan switches back and forth between languages. I do believe this is where Amy X Neuburg as Now Eleanor’s Low Rider Double is performing. Male monologue for about the last 2 mins.
4 More uplifting but yet almost frantic piece, worthwhile but probably the least essential


Track Listing
1.Act I: Change 3.Act Iii: Questions And Answer
2.Act Ii: The Miracle Of Cars 4.Act Iv: The Song