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Home to a Literature of Non-Idiomatic Improvisation

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Wouldn't the Wood Weird, or Impractical Prayers from the Spindle of the Void, is a post-existential (romantic) fantasy generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process

"Making the world a better place without personal sacrifice is like making breakfast without maple syrup. It can be done, but it's not very sweet."

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Blog & News Updates:

Currently On-going Blog Series
2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician; updated daily
A Survey of Bestiaries; updated each Saturday in 2017

May 23, 2017
Phallus impudicus
The yard in front of the Poison Pie Publishing House was invaded by none other than Phallus impudicus, also known as the common stinkhorn. For those unfamiliar with the stinkhorn mushroom family, the gooey poopy-looking stuff on top is an integral part of its reproductive system. The spore mass smells of dung and attracts flies to help disperse the spores. In truth, it did not smell quite as disgusting as it looked. We have encountered close relatives of this creature in the past and included them in the illustrated story, Poison Pie vs. Stinky Squid. For those who wish to skip straight to the images, the story includes several encounters with stinky squid and one with the elegant stinkhorn. (There was also an unusual pfifferling.) This story dates from June, 2000 in Knoxville, Tennessee.

 

May 22, 2017
Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds - Nicole Mitchell
Over her career, Nicole Mitchell has participated in many different ensembles, in some of which she is the leader. Of these, her Black Earth Ensemble has rendered musical interpretations of science fiction novels by Octavia Butler: Xenogenesis Suite: A Tribute To Octavia Butler (Firehouse 12 Records, 2008) and Intergalactic Beings (FPE (For Practically Everyone) Records, 2014). Another ensemble, the quartet, Sonic Projections, has also rendered a musical interpretation of an action/adventure story of Mitchell's own creation, The Secret Escapades Of Velvet Anderson (Rogue Art, 2014), which tells the story of a superhero based loosely on the saxophonist, Fred Anderson (March 22, 1929 - June 24, 2010) , who ran the Velvet Lounge in Chicago. In Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds (FPE Records, 2017), the Black Earth Ensemble combines these two elements, creating an interpretation of a science fiction epic originating with Mitchell. [link to full review]

 

May 3, 2017
All This I Do For Glory - Colin Stetson
It is not immediately apparent how a piece of music can simultaneously strike the listener as both sublime and pyrotechnic. Yet, on All This I Do For Glory, Colin Stetson presents nuanced works for solo woodwinds (various saxophones and a contrabass clarinet) in which his propensity for manipulations of the instruments accomplishes this mysterious task. Stetson is able to coax sounds from the instruments, of which, to our knowledge, no other human being is capable. The hypnotic drone is generated not just simultaneously with exclamatory phrases and rhythmic percussion but from the same pair of lungs through the same, single reed instrument. These six pieces present a body of work of prodigious creativity and effortless appeal. While fans of Stetson's previous releases need no enticement to his work, they will find not only familiar themes but new saxophonic explorations as well on All This I Do For Glory. It is encouraging that since its invention in 1840 by the Belgian Adolphe Sax, the saxophone is still able to lure dedicated performers into extracting heretofore unheard sounds. Stetson is such a performer. That he can concurrently occupy the role of experimentalist while producing tracks that are eminently listenable is a testament, presumably, to a personal creative vision, in which the idiosyncratic needs of the artist are satisfied in a manner that remains accessible to a broad, external audience. This album is a delight on every level.

 

April 17, 2017
A Second Volume of Collected Muhal Richard Abrams
This boxed set flew under our radar. It was released in November, 2016 but we didn't hear about it until spring, 2017, which is why we are only reviewing it now. First, a bit of context: Black Saint and Soul Note records were two Italian labels that released jazz and free jazz recordings. The catalogs include a prestigious list of hundreds of artists, including Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Steve Lacy, to name but a few. Predominately featured in the catalog are many artists of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), including Muhal Richard Abrams, Roscoe Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Lester Bowie, George Lewis, Amina Claudine Myers, Anthony Braxton and many more. [link to full review]

 

April 14, 2017
Cherry & Dogwood Blossoms in April
The blossoms on the cherry and dogwood trees in the yard of the Poison Pie Publishing House have arrived on schedule, each in their characteristic forms.

 

April 7, 2017
Big Ears Performance/In for a Penny, In for a Pound - Henry Threadgill's Zooid
As part of the the Big Ears Music Festival, on Sunday, March 26, 2017, Henry Threadgill's Zooid performed at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tennessee. The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House made a point to be in attendance. We recorded a few of our observations in the following review.

 

April 6, 2017
Myxomycetes
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House have maintained an interest not only in fungi but in myxomycetes (slime molds) as well. The myxomycetes in this picture was photographed at the Ijams Nature Center in Knoxville, Tennessee in the year 2000. The myxomycetes felt finger puppet (also pictured) has appeared in two illustrated books published by the Poison Pie Publishing House: Tales of the Mushroom People (2011) and Tales of the Mushroom People II: Call of Cthulhushroom (2012).

Why do we mention this? It turns out that a new documentary on myxomycetes, The Creeping Garden, has been recently released. We recently viewed it and discovered a meandering pace and an artistic vision that appealed to us. Moreover, the soundtrack to the feature-length film is by the fellow practitioner of non-idiomatic improvisation, Jim O'Rourke. The most recent instalment of the trio featuring O'Rourke with Keiji Haino and Oren Ambarchi, I wonder if you noticed "I'm Sorry" is such a lovely sound It keeps things from getting worse, made our list of favorite records released in 2016.

 

April 5, 2017
Tulips in April
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House discovered five tulips along the side of the house. These flowers were also planted by the previous occupant of the building, presumably somewhere around the turn of the century. Some number of them (usually less than five) have continued to appear each year over the course of more than a decade.

 

April 2, 2017
Big Ears Performance/Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner - Jace Clayton
As part of the the Big Ears Music Festival, on Sunday, March 26, 2017, Jace Clayton performed at the Bijou Theater in Knoxville, Tennessee. The performance was titled “The Julius Eastman Memorial Dinner” and seemed to be a version of the album, “The Julius Eastman Memory Depot”. [Link to Full Review]

 

March 31, 2017
2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician Index of Musicians
An experiment in the literature of non-idiomatic improvisation, a novel titled, 2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician, continues. As of today, one quarter of the year, or 90 days, have passed. On each day of 2017, a short passage is written and added to the novel. The writing appears on the same day as it is generated at this location. Interested readers are encouraged to bookmark the location and establish a routine in which they check back daily. Each day the writing is performed while listening to a different piece of music, which is identified after the passage. For the curious, several indices are being generated, noting the artists, labels, countries and years of the recordings. As the first quarter of the year has passed, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House have posted the indices as they stand today. The page numbers in the index correspond to a book, which currently does not exist, in which each page contains the writing from a single day of the year. Thus an entry of "1" in the index corresponds to January 1, 2017 and an entry of "90" corresponds to March 31, 2017. The index is posted as a pdf file here.

 

March 16, 2017
Marcus Aurelius
Today we feature a quote from the Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius (April 26, 121 - March 17, 180 AD).

Everything which is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself, and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself. Neither worse then nor better is a thing made by being praised. I affirm this also of the things which are called beautiful by the vulgar, for example, material things and works of art. That which is really beautiful has no need of anything; not more than law, not more than truth, not more than benevolence or modesty. Which of these things is beautiful because it is praised, or spoiled by being blamed? Is such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not praised? Or gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a little knife, a flower, a shrub?

--Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations, Book IV, written 161-180 AD, translated by George Long.

 

March 10, 2017
New Issue of the International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living
The International Journal of Exploratory Meta-Living has published a commentary on the changing perception of Sisyphus and the futility that he represents. It focuses on how the human institutions of our modern society have created a new interpretation of Sisyphus. It seems especially relevant in this current climate of corporate efficiency and political partisanship. As always, the content of this issue and all previous issues from IJEML is available via free, anonymous download.

 

February 19, 2017
Cherry Laurel Sound-Effects
The lone cherry laurel located on the boulevard, where the Poison Pie Publishing House sits, is the first tree to bloom in the spring. We approached it to admire the blossoms and were soon encompassed by the buzz of activity of numerous other creatures already drawn to the attraction.

 

February 16, 2017
Daffodils in February
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House discovered three daffodils along the front of the house. These flowers were planted by the previous occupant of the building but have continued to appear each year over the course of more than a decade. These flowers can be considered a resilient gift from someone we knew only briefly and then in a transactional way.

 

February 10, 2017
Penumbral Lunar Eclipse
The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House ventured outside this February evening to observe a penumbral lunar eclipse. Those among us with a taste for the brash found this celestial phenomena to be a rather understated affair. This photo was taken from Knoxville, Tennessee at about 7:44 PM, near the height of the action.

 

January 1, 2017 - present
2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician Begins
An experiment in the literature of non-idiomatic improvisation, a novel titled, 2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician, is begun today. It will consist of 365 short passages, one composed for each day of the year. The writing will appear on the same day as it is generated at this location. Interested readers are encouraged to bookmark the location and establish a routine in which they check back daily. Since it has not yet been written, at this point we can, of course, say no more about the nature of the work, since it remains fluid and ambiguous.

 

January 1, 2017
2016: The Year in Review at the Poison Pie Publishing House
As noted in the previous End-of-the-Year Report for 2015, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House was mortified to discover that they had achieved all of their goals set forth for the year. They resolved to not be so productive (a bourgeois virtue if ever there was one) in 2016. Accordingly, only two modest goals were set for the upcoming year: the publication of a new post-existential fantasy generated through a non-idiomatic improvisational creative process, The Portable Library of Hong Samud and an illustrated book based on the work being conducted by Miss Ruth Marie Keffer in the experimental laboratory.

It is with no small degree of pride that we report utter failure on both counts! Neither book was published. The editors at the Poison Pie Publishing House (PPPH) decided The Portable Library of Hong Samud possessed too many virtues to submit to the indignities of what the PPPH claims to call the publication process. Thus, after careful editing, it was privately printed in a very limited edition and then made immediately unavailable. A few copies were given away. To emphasize the uselessness of the endeavor, they did not even claim these business expenses as a tax-deductible loss. As for the promised illustrated book, while substantial progress was made on the illustrations, their in-house writer of non-idiomatic improvisation utterly refused to participate in the process, claiming his attentions were solely devoted to another project (only recently completed) The Ornithological Collection of Uwetsiageyv. Thus this illustrated project remains in limbo.

So what, if anything, was accomplished by the PPPH staff during the long year of 2016? Well, funny you should ask. We note five items below.

The staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House is no longer setting annual goals. Here they aspire to a much lower standard, namely thinking, idly if possible, about potential activities in the following year. A variation on the non-idiomatic improvisational process is under way, titled 2017: The Year of the Every-Day Magician. This manuscript shall be posted to this blog as each piece is written. We also remain optimistic that the work of Miss Ruth Marie Keffer in the experimental laboratory may lead to an illustrated book in 2017. We have, of course, high hopes.

To our readers, we, the staff of the Poison Pie Publishing House, thank you for your patronage and support and we look forward to another mutually creative and unpredictable year.

 

 

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