….Composers all, nurtured in renowned ivy gardens; some mowed lawns. They met in Rome, near the Cloaca Maxima—and without further ado, began like experimental archeologists to reconstruct the origins of human music. They collected shards of every audible sound, they amplified the inaudible ones, they declared that any vibrating object was itself “music,” they used electricity as a new musical space and cultural theory, they ultimately laid the groundwork for a new common practice. Every audible gurgle, sigh, thump, scratch, blast, every contrapuntal scrimmage, every wall of sound, every two-bit drone, life-threatening collision, heave of melodic reflux that pointed to unmediated liberation, wailing utopias, or other disappearing acts—anything in fact that hinted at the potential unity among all things, space, and times—were MEV’s “materia prima.”
Then and ever since, MEV has theorized and demonstrated that there is no relevant difference between composing music and making it spontaneously. . . . Bred on Mozart, the Second Viennese School, and hand-me-down avant-gardisms, we sprang with zeal into the revolutionary trenches where Marx, Buddha, Boulez, Braxton, Buber, Amacher, AMM, Scelsi, Moog, Mao, Ornette, Zappa, Feldman, and Zorn sit in with DJ Karlheinz and Snoop Dog. MEV—which unlike me never dropped a name—was like your neighborhood encounter-group: it cost next to nothing, laid no trip on anyone, was strictly a door-affair, promised nothing, and gave away everything it had: its youth, confusion, exile, charisma, optimism, chutzpah—not to mention its mastery of the latest music linguistics and a shared desire to bury them alive in the hope they would quickly rot, forming a rich compost from which a new musical lingua franca would grow. This language would enable the conquest of time, the abolition of ego, and the democratization of all audible sound, musical action, and memory. It would reclassify silence as an obligatory ethical act and embrace the raw, the primal, and the transcendent as the unequivocal rudiments of music.
These were lofty, necessary goals, ones that have since guided our personal lives and careers, ones that say—huh? —early MEV continued where Beethoven’s anarchic last sonatas ended. . . . That is, in spite of all of our carryings-on we still openly embraced our European musical heritage even as the latter morphed before our eyes into a world gamelan jamboree with Ghana car-horn orchestras, conch-shell hippie bands, and phase-vocoded string quartets. At this party all we wanted was to make Cage’s inspired acts of purification swing!—and at the same time drink the healing toxins of free jazz! while lyrically, mystically stopping time like Morty! Do not be deceived, these plain-clothes improvisers were always composers in drag, but by the mid-80s nobody could tell the difference, nor could they care.