Lovely Music present a reissue of Robert Ashley’s Automatic Writing, originally released as an LP by Lovely Music in 1979. Over the course of Robert Ashley’s career his preoccupation with language and the voice took many forms. He became known in his librettos as a wonderful, funny, moving writer. But with Automatic Writing he examines language at a very “primitive” level — the human impulse make sounds to express his inner state, whether it be regret, embarrassment, fear, or happiness — even though there is no one else to listen. Talking to oneself.
Personnel: Voices – Robert Ashley and Mimi Johnson; Electronics and Polymoog – Robert Ashley; Words: Robert Ashley; Translation: Monsa Norberg; Silhouette: William Farley. The switching circuit was designed and built by Paul DeMarinis. Recorded, produced, and mixed by Robert Ashley at the Center for Contemporary Music, Mills College (Oakland), the American Cultural Center (Paris), and Mastertone Recording Studios (New York). This reissue was remastered and cut, from the original reel-to-reel tape, by Scott Hull, Masterdisk (New York). Manufactured at Record Technology Inc/RTI (California). 180 gram vinyl; Stoughton Old Style sleeve. Includes an insert with a transcription of the words, and the Automatic Writing notes Ashley wrote for Lovely’s 1996 CD (that included “Purposeful Lady Slow Afternoon” and “She Was A Visitor”).
“On Automatic Writing, Robert Ashley composes under the influence of his ‘involuntary speech.’ (In his liner notes, Ashley revealed that he suffered from ‘a mild form of Tourette’s.’) The piece starts quietly, with scraps of Ashley’s mild, tremulous voice arranged next to more fluid French translations and barely-there touches of Moog. After Ashley’s phrases lengthen enough to encompass sense-making phrases, a bass-register groove briefly appears, vanishes, then returns. Few pieces so quiet have proven as captivating; many that intend to be equally startling can’t capture Ashley’s range of surprises.” –Seth Colter Walls, from Pitchfork’s “Fifty Best Ambient Albums of All Time”