Attention Span

by Bob Ostertag

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about

With John Zorn (alto sax) and Fred Frith (guitar). Rift Records (Rift 14) and RecRec Music (RecDec 33). Re-issued in MVORL limited edition in 2001.

Ostertag liner notes, 1990:

"This recording is the direct precursor to Say No More. Here I also began with solo recordings, one by John Zorn and the other by Fred Frith. But instead of performing improvisations they merely recorded an "inventory" of the sounds they make.

The cd is divided into halves. Slam Dunk is a series of 26 extremely short solos which I performed using only the sounds of John's sax. In Sleepless I use Fred's source material, but instead of playing solo I brought him back into the studio and we played duos, but with me only using his own guitar sounds.

The development of digital sampling in creative musical directions is currently constrained by legal restrictions often imposed by huge corporations who view music more as property than creative process. In this project, I was thus fortunate to have Fred and John's collaboration, who gave me complete freedom in my use of their material. John and Fred play highly personalized, idiosyncratic music. I have not only used their sounds as my building blocks, but have also tried to shape these two pieces in ways that pay respective tribute to their musics as a whole."

Sample master Bob Ostertag follows the challenges of his chosen technology much farther than most. He intentionally uses limited sound sources. For "Slam Dunk" he deal with manic sax improvisation by John Zorn, for the mother , more moderate segment, "Sleepless," guitarist Fred Frith provided both the original sample source and after-the-fact duets while Ostertag 'played' Frith samples. Armed with this raw sound putty, Ostertag proceeds to reconfigure the existing materials into new forms. Zorn is served up frenetic doses of his own medicine. The lugubrious beauty of Frith's 'Drowning Offshore' bears distant aural resemblance to the electric guitar, but for the eerie metallic sheen.
-- Option, July/August 1991

Bob Ostertag is a pioneer in the world of electronic music. His experiments make most of today's synthesizer and computer music seem like kindergarten child's play.
-- Oakland Tribune on Attention Span, March 31, 1991

credits

released January 1, 1990

John Zorn: alto sax
Fred Frith: guitar
Bob Ostertag: sampler

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Bob Ostertag San Francisco, California

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