Dorian Blues in G

18 12 2009

The roadhous was rocking. Orpheus- the archetypal rambling bluesman, king of the animals, and all-around steady-rolling man-was wailing from the joint’s makeshift band-stand, breaking a sweat that was slowly turing the road dust clinging to his clothing into think river-bottom mud. The crowd packed the dance floor. Over in a corner, the heat got the better of Elder Brown, who was so drunk that he kept trying to pick a fight. At the bar, the music and the scene so bemused the undercover cop that he flashed his badge in front of the locals. A few began looking around wildly, trying to spot the nearest exit, but most of them ignored the provocation. “Stomp it down to the bricks,” they yelled, and Orpheus obliged by shaking the roadhouse into a low-down groove. Pythagoras heard the commotion from the blacksmith’s shop nearby, and added to it with hammers, tongs, anvils, the clarity of the resulting harmonic ratios ringing out like a metallic music of the spheres.

Out back of the smithy, an immense high-tension stepdown transformer hummed and pulsed an oceanic 60-cycle drone. La Monte Young, who had been sitting cross-legged on the ground, his consciousness wholly immersed in the sound of the transformer, slowly got to his feet, hearing everything- Orpheus, Pythagoras, the rhythmic stomping that was shivering the roadhous timbers, the transformer’s robust whine. He checked the clamorous machine shop next door, satisfying himself that the stampers and drill presses were all perfectly in tune, and then strode purposefully toward the roadhouse. The machine shop’s drone harmonized beautifully with the other sounds Young was hearing; monentarily, he seemed lost in thought. “This could be a really accurate tuning for Young’s Dorian Blues in G,” he mused, “with the blues 7:6 minor third B-flat reinforcing the fundamental harmonic resonance of the power grid…” He entered the roadhouse; in his biker jacket and leather gloves, with a purple bandana tied around his head, he fit right in. When Orpheus finally took a break and headed for the bar, Young approached him. “I’m recruiting musicians, ” he explained, “for this really bad blues band….”

Thus Robert Palmer envisions a mythical version of the formation of La Monte Young’s Forever Bad Blues Band. While the formation of this avant-garde ensemble was not quite so mystical, the music and La Monte Young’s reputation as a musical avant-garde godfather make this recording of La Monte Young’s Dorian Blues in G a must-have.

An excerpt: