Audio Arts


Audio Arts was a British audio magazine established by Bill Furlong which appeared on vinyl LP, cassette tape and CD from 1973 to 2006. The Tate website has an archive section devoted to the magazine which allows you to listen to each of the tapes, surprisingly when much of the content on the Tate sites is fenced about with copyright restrictions. The contents are as varied as any regular arts magazine: reviews, interviews and so on. An interview with Marcel Duchamp from 1959 is one of the featured highlights. Of greater interest to this listener is an interview from 1981 with Laurie Anderson discussing her epic stage work, United States Parts 1–4. This would have been around the time that one of the songs from that show, O Superman, turned her into a UK pop star for a few weeks.

In addition to a great deal of talk some of the tapes contain recordings of sound pieces or performances. One tape from 1985 features nine works by the Bow Gamelan Ensemble: Ann Bean, Richard Wilson and PD Burwell. The Bow Gamelan Ensemble were at the arty British end of the 1980s’ vogue for making music with industrial detritus, a trend developed and popularised by Z’EV, Einstürzende Neubauten, Test Department and others. I never got to see the ensemble but their pyrotechnic live performances always looked like fun. The tape gives an idea of their uncompromising sound. (Tip via The Wire.)

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3 thoughts on “Audio Arts”

  1. Your post motivated me to look in the archival cassette drawer, where I found Vol. 3 No. 2 of audio arts, the cassette devoted to ‘Recent English Experimental Music.’ The tape contains works by Gavin Bryars, Christopher Hobbs, James Lampard, Michael Nyman, Michael Parsons, Howard Skempton and John white. You can see where such a sampler would be most tantalizing to an owner of all ten lp’s issued by Brian Eno’s Obscure label. Since this volume doesn’t appear to be available on the site you’ve linked, I must get around to digitizing the thing…the inner labels have aged in a big way, probably owing to the glue affixing them to the tape…

  2. Hi Richard. Eno is surprisingly absent from that archive unless he was in an issue that isn’t there.

  3. Having just now received my latest number of The Wire, I went back and looked at the Tate’s archival pages concerning the Audio Arts cassettes and, yes, Vol. 3 No. 2 is present on the site. Unfortunately the digital transcriptions of the cassettes, these being of low quality to begin with, aren’t that great and the fold-out liners are reproduced seemingly for their graphic values alone – the copious notes are illegible on the Tate’s lo-res scans, which is inexcusable. Looks like I’ll be transcribing my own copy of tape after all and scanning its wrap-around shell. And, no, I don’t believe Eno was ever part of this series, though several of his Obscure label production clients were.

    Somewhere near in time to this cassette’s release, Eno did write his “Generating Variety In The Arts” essay for Studio International magazine. Good luck making sense of *that* one, should you come across it. B.E. good at many things, but Morse Peckham he was not.

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