Mal Occhio on suRRism-Phonoethics

This performance called Sea of Phantoms – Free Air is the collaboration of Will Alexander, Byron Baker, Thom Burns and Stephen Lock in Los Angeles, 2013. With the inclusion of Alexander in reading mode, words become integral. Here he reads the entirety of Asia, his epic poem of 1995 accompanied by the instrumentation of the others. Along with the traditional devices initially used by Mal Occhio (an array of diaphragmatic rattles, micro-phonographs and aluminum) is added a collection of newly invented water drums and drone strings both bowed and hammered.

Here are eight minutes of the performance pulled from the one hour and thirty minute recording, including this moment from “Asia.”

the point being

a Yak in motion

a series of exterior glossaries condensed

in strange botanical causeways

from ‘Yamdok Lake’

across the ‘Kamba pass’

with startling inherence

with tinctures of apparent perception

the Yak

bionomic with chimera

from ‘the valley of the Tsangpo’

up the peaks of the ‘Lord’ & ‘The White Horned Lady’

disappears through vertical columns

as a strange alchemical soldier of burden

a darkly enveloped mystagogue

now a beautiful peculiar treatise on absence

–Thom Burns, 2015


Note:  The first eight tracks here come from the Mal Occhio 1980-82 CD, a limited edition release including two live tracks. Participants were Jhim Pattison, Steve Lock, Byron Baker, Thom Burns. The live track from Beyond Baroque (2015), recorded on a cell phone and remixed, features Brian Lucas, Joyce Baker, Byron Baker, Steve Lock and Will Alexander.  — Craig S. Wilson.