Discofication of the Mongols 2009 (35 minutes) for Violin (Benjamin Bowman) and CPU
PDF Score: Discofication of the Mongols
PDF Program Notes:Discofication ofthe Mongols
S’Wonderful(the man I love watches over me)-based on 3 Gershwin Songs 2010 (26 minutes) for Flute (Doug Stewart) and CPU.
PDF Score; S’Wonderful
PDF Program Notes;S Wonderful
- April 2012 Musicweb-International UK
WARNING: extremely humourous, scathing review
This is, presumably, the future of ‘classical’ music as the postmodernist illuminati see it: a multi-layered wall of computer-generated sound literally and symbolically drowning out the Old Ways, as represented by Benjamin Bowman’s violin and Douglas Stewart’s flute. Innova describe this disc as “electro-acoustic, ethno-death-metal, versus environmental, classical-fusion-electronica in a UFC cage [not John-] match”: it is not for those who have not wholeheartedly embraced the cultural homogenisation of the “iPod generation”. The first track, all 35 relentless minutes of it, is The Discofication of the Mongols, which, so it says, “concerns the loss of all indigenous culture to the monolith of western pop music” – how ironic that MC Maguire’s creation comes across as a glorification of that undeniable truth. Benjamin Bowman surely could not have been listening to the computer content during recording, otherwise the mind-altering qualities of the überpop soundtrack would have induced violin rage. For a brief moment, after 17 minutes, the Death by Disco treatment inflicted on the listener seems to have ended, only to lurch back into gaudy life again – that was only the halfway mark! Any mercy accruing from the fact that the second track is shorter by ten minutes is negated by the repetitious splicing – ‘mashing’ is the word of the moment, though ‘garrotting’ would also do – of three Gershwin tunes that Maguire’s parents apparently played over and over when he was a child. S’Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches over Me) was written in his mother’s memory, but it is hard to believe that she or Gershwin would have particularly appreciated what he has done to them here: more chopping-changing sampling, manic electronic beats, a post-structuralist’s spot-the-reference heaven, and a flute struggling to be heard. From a technical point of view, the scale of the soundworlds is undeniably impressive – up to 300 tracks, according to Innova, and a decibel level to match at times. Sound quality is excellent. The booklet gives no information at all about MC Maguire – Innova’s website describes him (or maybe her) as a “Toronto based electro-acoustic manipulator who has worked in every medium and genre as a composer/producer/engineer” – but there is plenty of pretentious stuff – and nonsense – about the two tracks. Musically this is, despite the interesting soloist lines heroically performed by Bowman and Stewart, less interesting than listening from a bedroom window to an ice cream van going round the neighbourhood. Those who are fascinated by this kind of 21st century mumbo-jumbo will find all manner of references – ‘intertextualities’ – and semiotic rummage. MC Maguire will likely attract the same kind of cult following, just as unwarranted, as Frank Zappa. This is a CD only for the ‘down’ and trendy, then: before purchase, proof of smartphone ownership and popular Facebook account must be provided as a bare minimum.
- March 2012 Arcane Candy USA
First there was MC Escher, then came MC Donalds (better known as Mickey D’s), followed by MC Hammer. Now, MC Maguire takes his rightful place upon the world (sound) stage. Like his previous album, Trash of Civilizations, Nothing Left to Destroy sprinkles a gleeful pee all over the world of genteel music-making as it pits a solo instrumentalist against a barrage of sound samples. Brandishing an ancient Chinese melody played on violin and four disco beats as its primary source material, “The Discofication of the Mongols” chronicles the progress of Western popular music as it steamrolls over traditional music around the globe. Rest assured, you can’t dance to this sonic onslaught–unless you’re in the midst of a grand mal seizure. “S’Wonderful’ replaces the violin with a flute and really packs a stuttered punch! Combining the process of the medieval quodibet (the inclusion of popular melodies into a larger piece) and the current musical trend of mash-ups, this chaotic quilt digs up, transmogrifies and layers such sounds as MGM musicals, gangster movies, big bands and a seemingly endless amount more. Maguire’s music may sound cacophonous, but it is actually carefully composed. Fans of the INA-GRM label will love this stuff, and it would be fun to sneak this CD into the punk bin, what with its punk rock-looking album cover. If there really is nothing left to destroy, I wonder what MC Maguire’s next album will sound like?
- February 2012 Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review USA
Mixology, MC style, has come of age as an avant art form. It’s come quite a distance from the disco days when a dj could get a couple of recordings going in synch and augment one finished production with another, or with the same disc on a second turntable. Not to take away from those days and the subsequent early development. It could be cleverly done. But it wasn’t art. Not then. Today you have DJ Spooky and other sophisticated mixologists who aspire and sometimes attain the status of composer, even “serious” composer. MC Maguire, with the aid of his CPU (read computer) has most assuredly catapulted over the top of dancemusic to create two full length concertos on Nothing Left to Destroy (Innova 813). It’s a melange of collage materials, acoustic, natural, electronic, noise, music as a kind of orchestra pitted against violinist Benjamin Bowman for “The Discofication of the Mongols” and against flautist Douglas Stewart for “S’Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches Over Me).”These are madcap juxtipositions of the aural kitchen sink avec soloist. The first piece starts with a “slower” quasi-modal tonal centered violin part and a soundscape that ever-transforms in virtuoso sound manipulation sequences. It gets more and more frenetic as it goes along, more and more there is the CPU orchestra as contrarian, even antagonist to the soloist. It’s a fascinating listen.The piece for flute and CPU bears some relation, now covert, now somewhat overt, to some old pop standards (hence the title). It is busy and turbulent, with the beauty of the flute part making itself known over the trashcan aesthetics of the CPU virtual orchestra.The music may come out of a DJ stance, but its principal forbear I suppose you could say is John Cage and his live and tape manipulated collage pieces consisting of various prerecorded “found objects”–in his 1950’s electronic mix pieces, and in the second phase, with live collaging beginning notably with “Variations IV.” But I suppose you could also say John Cage (aided by his often-assistant David Tudor) was the first MC! What counts in the end is the finished work–the two pieces presented for us on this disk. They are noisy chaotic, anarchic but not formless. And in their own way they are beautiful. Recommended for the Gyro Gearloose in everybody. Welcome to the future?
- January 2012 Draai om je oren Netherlands
Composer MC Maguire is committed to being the supreme postmodernist. From his nickname (MC), a moniker from hiphop to his cover being intentionally eclectic and the bizarre titles of his music, he seems to have done everything to project this chosen image to the public. Yet this cannot disguise the fact that Maguire a classically trained composer with tons of intellectual baggage. It may therefore be assumed that with this postmodern attitude, he very deliberately appropriates to the extreme. In this he differs not materially from John Zorn, whose projects often explicitly cross borders. But this music sounds very different: Maguire’s use of samples and the fusion of styles is the defining difference. He stacks until everything implodes. For this reason, the title of this album is also well chosen.
‘Nothing Left To Destroy’ consists of two pieces. The first piece, ‘The Discofication Of The Mongols “is a dance piece that deals with the further spread of the digital music file, in this case to Mongolia –the farthest possible country from a digital file. The structure is clearly inspired by serialism – albeit with samples – and as Maguire suggests is related to the music of Berg and Stockhausen. Another influence was John Cage, whose use of radios has also influenced this music.
There is a lot happening both substantively and technically. Maguire’s use of up to 400 tracks, as mentioned on his website, allows for many layers to be stack on top of one another. The resultant cacophony, featuring dubstep, drum ‘n’ bass and the inevitable throat singing are all there to be recognize. Sometimes it is embarrassing, at other times hilarious and very occasionally overwhelming like bad weather. Nowhere it is boring and the premise and execution of the piece, which borrows its melody line from a beautiful modern classical violin score, are together greater than the sum of its parts.
Then comes the slightly calmer, but still noisy ‘S’Wonderful (The Man That I Love Watches Over Me),written for flute and computer samples. This piece is perhaps a little top heavy with content, including hip-hop, Gershwin, Wagner, the medieval quodlibet, MGM musicals and film samples, all meant to commemorate Maguire’s mother. Whatever. There is plenty to listen to and that’s what counts. The tension in this piece is more gradual and the goal is not, as in ‘The Discofication Of The Mongols, to bowl over the listener. Rather, the listener must guess when and where they’ve landed.
Multiple listenings do both pieces righteous, only then can all that audio information actually can be processed. This is music for headphones, to completely drown yourself in and then end with a quiet “Amen”to enjoy twenty minutes of silence in a room with four white walls and a plant.
- January 2012 Kathodik Magazine Italy
A Guru of electronic manipulation, the star of this Innova CD is MC Maguire, which features two long compositions. In the first piece, the violin solo requires considerable skill and great virtuosity, the composer interweaving textures surrounding the improvisation, concealing Eastern melodic inspiration with a background of electronics that comes to a noisy, futuristic conclusion. A similar setting in the second piece,with a an atmosphere of both imagined and real chaos, this time enhanced by the use of three popular Gershwin songs, entrusted to a solo flute, which has the task of saving us from drifting cacophonies. An interesting listen…..
- January 2012 Mimicry Records Board USA
Best of 2011
- Kevin Drumm and Tom Smith: Blue before Blackface
- To Live and Shave in LA: The Cortege
- MC Maguire: Nothing Left to Destroy (Innova)
- John Wall and Alex Rodgers: Works 2006-2011
- Nondor Nevai: Three Tocattas
- Yasunao Tone: MP3 Deviations #6+7
- Rudolf Eb.er: Meditations on a Broomstick
- Jim O’Rourke: Old News #6
- Hecker: Speculative Solutions
- Lukas Legeti: Pattern Time
- SFE: Positions and Descriptions
- Julie Tippetts and Martin Archer: Tales of FINN
- Jeremiah Cymerman: Fire Sign (Tzadik)
- January 2012 Electromania/RadioFrance France
“This CD is like an adventure and I’m so happy to discover his work. It’s amazing! It’s a composer I didn’t know. His roots are in jazz but very influenced by John Cage. His work is like a giant painting, creating a kind of collage narrative, which is very film-like—it’s a constant juxtaposition of cinematic worlds. You will see –it’s a real journey. Very, very powerful, it’s extraordinary—we are inside the sound—it would be amazing to listen to this while on the road.”
- January 2012 DoyleAmburst/Chicago Timeout USA
Composers I’m digging Edition
- December 2011 Voir top ten CDs of 2011 Quebec
- December 2011 Itunes USA
Dude is nuts…in the greatest way!!! Two long pieces that are well worth the ride. Awesome, huge fan!
- November 2011 Voir.ca Quebec
In the 1970s and 80s, MC Maguire was involved in rock, and even if today he does more electroacoustic or contemporary music, it is clear that his past has left a legacy. This is his second record label, Innova, appearing after a passage through Tzadik, Maguire has mixed works here, which include an instrument accompanied by a computer. This support can hold up to 400 tracks of information, a dose that overloads hearing and neurons, transporting the listener on a roller coaster journey of extreme intensity. Only two pieces: The Discofication of the Mongols (Benjamin Bowman, violin) and S’Wonderful (Douglas Stewart, flute). After this, it’s true: there is nothing left.
- November 2011 Music Web International The Netherlands
Fascinating sonic canvases.With a grungy title and a cover which reminds me a little of Monty Python’s’Another Monty Python Record’, this CD projects a ‘bad boy’ image which belies some fascinating work.
The Discofication of the Mongols was created for a choreography by LeeSu-Feh, and the music derives its proportions from choreographic gestures. The title of the piece “concerns the loss of all indigenous culture to the monolith of western pop music… The ever –approaching climax has an accumulative size, density overlapping submixes and pop references, until it crushes everything under its own weight (secretly inspired by the design of Stockhausen’s Gruppen and Boulez’s Tombeau).” This description gives a hint as to the content of the piece, but very little other than hearing it can really describe the actual experience. There is an underlying carpet of sound which is like a Jackson Pollock painting: fascinating and enigmatic; filled with recognisable shapes which collect into patterns of enigmatic or intangible perspective. Objects advance momentarily like flashes of sparingly used colour, but the general swathe of tone is an oppressive, constantly shifting wall of detailed purples. The ‘pop’ elements are present and also emerge like plastic ducks in bathwater, but the disco beats and electric guitars are balanced so that they also are family members of the vast canvas, rather than taking over as you might expect. The violin solo is a free voice which sings over the material with disarming expressiveness. This is not a violin concerto, but neither is it an ungrateful piece for the soloist, and Benjamin Bowman does a terrific job of holding his lines over a relatively alien accompaniment without losing ‘classical’ integrity.
There are some attractive harmonic progressions and finely nuanced sonic textures in this piece, and I found myself enjoying it far more than I expected. There’s a sense of wit hidden in the piece and a warmth of resonance which is quite welcoming, but I won’t promise it will be to everyone’s taste. If you like at least bits of Frank Zappa’s Jazz From Hell or something akin to The Residents in WB:RMX you will probably find this right up your street.
S’Wonderful (that the man I love watches over me) is, as the title suggests, based on some Gershwin songs which the composer associated with his parents, the work being dedicated to the memory of his mother. Elements mentioned in the piece’s construction are the quodlibet: the integration of popular themes into a work in all kinds of ways, and some multi-tempo dance sequences from MGM musicals. Tap dancing feet can be heard, as well as some of that fantasy colour of those cinematic orchestras, with violin textures and harp arpeggios. Dialogue from 1930s gangster and romantic movies pops up from time to time, as well as do ‘standard’ singers from a light jazz idiom. The CPU computer treatment means that this material melts into itself with a kind organic unity which is both complex and refined, as well as serving to disguise the obvious.The solo flute over this kind of territory seems to throw an automatic switch of sentimentality which may or may not appeal…
This again is a fascinating sonic canvas –for a large part softer edged than Discofication, but still building to a mighty climax and bringing with it a similar multi-layering of sounds, textures and rich associations. Both works have a sense of narrative and cadence which speaks to the ‘learned composer’ in me, and there’s a lot of hard work and craft has gone into these pieces which automatically gains my genuine respect. The composer very kindly sent me the scores for the solo parts for both works, and the detail and precision in which the music is notated indicates a seriousness of intent which is reflected in the quality of the results. This isn’t what you would call ‘everyday’ music, but for that reason neither is it bland or disposable.
- November 2011 Amazon.com USA
The hundred thousand or so people worldwide who are deeply familiar with the music of MC Maguire, know that his music really consists of two competing elements. The first, is illustrated by his mid-1980’s “tunes” for the short-lived pop-disco band the Matinee Idols, and more recently by the drum n bass CD “Back-Engineering of a Cloned Hoola-Hoop” and his two ‘Sammara’ alt- pop CDs-the style being melodic, grinding,unceasingly rhythmic, accessible, and quite danceable music. All the while, he was in the midst of developing his “other” side, a seemingly endless output of increasingly well-produced soundscapes, sometimes autobiographically charged, at other times politically charged, but ALWAYS charged in some way, and with a large dose of testosterone. Although this second element never really appears devoid of the first, offerings include the early “7 Years’ (premiered1989 Bang on a Can), the more recent CDs ‘Meta-Conspiracy'( Tzadik) and “Trash of Civilizations”(Innova). The same can be said of his newest musical mulch/flem-fest, “Nothing Left to Destroy” ( Innova Records),The title comes no doubt from Maguire’s artistic worldview, that nothing can be created without first destroying… something? someone? An innocent parallel would be clay sculpture, where, the artist, in order to start, must first get a lump of clay, and knead it until it is ready to mold.In Maguire’s terms however, the parallels can get a bit bloodier.
Maguire seems strangely unaware of many practical, musical endeavors, while being clearly aware of how to manipulate his material. For instance, his sound production, in the opinion of this reviewer, has been honed to near perfection over the years, reaching a plateau of sheer mastery with “Nothing left to Destroy’. At the same time, his liner notes, in which he reports in detail the arcane structural points of his work keep us wondering whether he is putting us on. If indeed he is, he needs to continue putting us on in future, because it’s entertaining. If, however, he is not, then he needs to be reminded that when one fire-bombs a city, rubble ensues. Imagine a game where someone challenges you to recite from memory the value of Pi to the 200th decimal place while setting off high explosives dangerously nearby.
….One of the striking aspects of Maguire’s music is his tendency to blow his wad not once, not twice, but multiple times throughout, almost to the point where the listener can consume his pieces in installments and get multiple orgasms for the price of just one. The bolgias that inhabit his music can be so vast and numbered that it is really hard to believe they could ever be played loud enough to be fully heard.
With the second cut, however, Maguire belies his album title. “S’Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches Over Me)” for Flute and CPU, played hauntingly by Douglas Stewart, with quotes from the Gershwin songs intimated in its title, as well as Debussy’s “Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun” and other choice diatonic and pan-diatonic hits, contains some of the more striking music Maguire has ever written, or recorded, or… shall we say, “destroyed in order to create”. Witness a section early on (@3:10) where the soloist, repeating a chromatic melodic figure, is accompanied by a pulsing kalimba-like sound whose harmonies rise and then fall microtonally; or an area involving women speak-singing in dream tongues (@7:00). Then, recurring angelic effects involving echoed flute combined with sounds suggesting wind-chimes and string harmonics; or the recurrence of what sounds like a metronome doubled by a celesta. Finally, the treat of hearing the composer sing wispily through the first verse of “S’Wonderful” in a voice recalling his Matinee Idols baritone, and the haunting conclusion that brings together the metronome, the celesta, the earlier melodic effects and the voices of angels – all of it somewhat of a surprise coming from a composer who feels he must destroy to create. The more sentimental passages are trampled on by sounds of crashing television sets, stampeding horses, coughing radio static, hammerlike echoes of gigantic orchestras from hell, invading fighter jets, and people speaking menacingly in all sorts of languages. Here, perhaps because of the choice of flute, perhaps because of the diatonic influences of Gershwin, Debussy et al; the piece drips a little more of estrogen than testosterone for a change. Still, one must assume that the piece is more veiled autobiography.”Here are scenes from my childhood… See how sordid and repulsive they are in light of the world in which we live? And yet see how meaningful I can make them!”
No matter what one thinks of Maguire’s music/cacophony/multissimo-layered masterpieces, one thought is hard to escape. There is always a daunting brilliance exploding from the music like the stench of victory in the morning. MC Maguire, to those who know his music, has a definite place on the map. One can only try to imagine Planet Earth, as it will be 150 years hence, when his music is piped into elevators.
- November 2011 KFJC 89.7 FM USA
Is it Debussy? Play the tracks whole, there is a great deal of invention throughout, a super nova full of sound.A quarter Lawrence Butch Morris, a quarter Quiet American, a quarter Luc Farrari, and a quarter Violent Onsen Geisha. CPU collage, software scratching, sped-ups, layering, excerpts and sampling, and then of course free sounding violin throughout (love it), and flute (sounds good) -
- November 2011 Wholenote Canada
Once upon a time on the musical planet inhabited by wall-of-sound composer MC Maguire there must have been a catastrophic explosion, scattering the treasures of civilization together with all the cast-off junk of consumerism and the fallout of post-modern warfare. Through the blasted landscape come the remaining voices of humanity, represented on this latest Maguire release by violinist Ben Bowman and flutist Doug Stewart. The CD is called “Nothing Left to Destroy,” and for those interested in references, consider his choice of artist for the jacket: uber bad-boy Istvan Kantor.
Maguire’s works are massively layered and require repeated listenings for one to begin to sort the material out. His is a creative imagination that never seems to lack for material inspiration. Consider the sonic blast-scape of the first track, The Discofication of the Mongols. He references a contemporary icon, the lonely herdsman with the iPod, to explain his thematic material. If I can decipher nothing else in his liner note explaining the piece’s structure, I can at least appreciate what he means about the loss of indigenous culture, and when you hear Bowman’s gorgeous violin playing drowned by the eventually overpowering disco beat, you understand the intent of the piece. Along the way you’ll want to listen for anything you recognize. “Paul is dead” in retrograde inversion might even be there.
Track two is somewhat shorter and much sweeter. S’Wonderful (that the man I love watches over me) is more homage than lament, remixing three Gershwin songs and quotes lifted from depression-era cinema. Stewart’s flute wanders lonely as a drunken Ginger Rogers, one busted high heel, still dancing with her imaginary Fred. Again, I want to hear the instrumentalist but lose him too often as he ducks behind the scenery. In fact, the critique that feels almost to miss the point is that Maguire’s sonic default setting is too often on “stun.”Regardless, the results are without a doubt stunning and worth the listen.
- October 2011 Squidco USA
Extreme composer MC Maguire in a complex and layered work that pokes fun at and pay hommage to a world of musical genres, styles and approaches by morphing them together into this perplexingly accessible work.
- October 2011 ReR Megacorp UK
A contemporary music CD that really escapes the academy. These are essentially radical plunderphonic assemblages, mostly many layers deep that lay the ground for written solo parts. In the first long work, The Discofication of the Mongols, which mashes Chinese themes and shredded disco hits – though rather discretely behind and inside the general chaos – a violin takes the solo part. In the second, S’Wonderful (that the Man I love Watches over me) the solo role is taken by a flute, which has to negotiate a composite of the three show themes indicated by the work’s title (but you have to listen closely to hear that) filtered through complex key/tempo arrangements and a hurricane of samples taken from movies, big bands, tap-dancing, popular singers and C19 orchestral music (mangled). The results are fascinating and impenetrable; it moves, it makes a kind of sense, it has musical qualities: co-ordination, rhythm, (intermittent) melody, at the same time it’s chaotically monolithic and mildly hysterical. Impressive work.
- October 2011 Psychemusic Belgium
I have reviewed another CD by MC Maguire, introducing his ideas on maximalism. …on the first track,“The Discofication of the Mongols, for violin and CPU”… the amount of incorporated sound recordings is huge and could give a saturating, exhausting effect but it never does. It is because the architectural structure is never lost and the violin movements keep on leading even when being side by side with contractions of worlds. .Instead of an orchestra, there are elements and different worlds of keyboards, orchestrations, electronic beats, heavy electric guitars, all interfering with the works own powers. But strangely enough the saturations and contradictions does not succeed to affect the architectural structure as if nothing can happen to move away from the foundations of its’ concentration, each sound and idea becomes just colouring on the surface. The size of the piece remains a huge space ship with its structure intact cruising through all manner of randomness. The second piece is “S’Wonderful (but the man I love watches over me) which mixes in samples of the Broadway tradition with a flute piece. It is overloaded with its own image. In this case these images do not show their sense, but are like disturbing overloads of information. There is also something like a general tune playing but all the other tunes are there as well, existing next to each other, and this while the flute improvises in a world inbetween. It is as if several compositions, several tunes, several worlds coexist. This piece is as if we hear all the tunes in the mind of the people on the same bus. They’re all living in the same time schedule, driving home in the same rhythm but all with different tunes and sometimes visualizing something different from elsewhere. Only near the end, it works toward a conclusion where all the different worlds are aware of each other to work into one environment …
- September2011 Monsieur Delire Quebec
Each MC Maguire album is a sonic discharge, a long punch to the plexus that opens up your ears and saturates your brain cells. Nothing Left to Destroy presents two long tracks in typical Maguire format: ultra-tight collages of extremely varied sound samples with a solo instrumental part. I’m strongly reminded of what Bob Ostertag was doing in the ‘90s – and that’s a BIG compliment, in case you didn’t know.“S’Wonderful (That the Man I Love Watches Over Me)” for flute (Douglas Steward) and computer revolves around Gershwin and the American musical. I prefer “The Discofication of the Mongols”, a typhoon of crazy ideas tamed by Benjamin Bowman’s violin, the element of coherence that manages to stay on top of this gigantic wave of sounds. This album sounds more “comfortable” than Trash of Civilization, though both records are highly recommended.
- September2011 WRUV Liama USA
Two works by MC Maguire that cover a huge range of musical territory—chaotic, delicate, electronic. It’s a human vs. a computer-processing unit.