Of all the wonderful artists Animal Collective have secured to play at their ATP festival this coming weekend, there is none more legendary and deserving of your veneration than Tony Conrad.
Thankfully for those of us who aren’t attending the festival, Conrad is playing a headline show at Corsica Studios in London this Thursday, 12 May, with support from Lichens and John Chantler.
Violinist, film-maker and composer Conrad is an enduring icon of New York’s avant-garde. However, he first rose to prominence over on the West Coast, where he was a member of LaMonte Young’s pioneering drone collective Theatre of Eternal Music, alongside John Cale, Angus Maclise and Marian Zazeela. There seems to be renewed interest in this axis of creativity of late, with the late Maclise the subject of a retrospective opening this month at NYC’s Boo-Hooray gallery. To coincide with the exhibition, Boo-Hooray are also issuing two LPs of Maclise-Conrad collaborations, Dreamweapon I and Dreamweapon III. More information here.
Over the years Conrad has continued his investigations into drone (largely on amplified strings) and post-classical compositional strategies, earning the respect and fellowship of the academy, the fine art world and the noise underground alike. He has collaborated with the likes of Faust, Rhys Chatham and Gastr Del Sol, and his film work has been exhibited at such prestigious venues as New York’s MoMA and Whitney Museum of American Art.
Oh, and he’s famous for having given The Velvet Underground their name (albeit indirectly – Lou Reed and John Cale took it from a copy of Michael Leigh’s book that they found in Conrad’s apartment). While he was a friend and ally of the band, he was never actually a member.
UK appearances from Conrad are rare, and the opportunity to hear him play a venue like Corsica is not to be missed at any cost. The support is very much up to scratch: Lichens is the solo project of Chicago’s Robert Lowe, who has perfected his heady electric raga sound across albums for Kranky, Thrill Jockey and Holy Mountain, and John Chantler specialises in hypnotic modular synth work-outs. More information and tickets here.
The gig is being put on by Miles of Smiles, the intrepid promoters also responsible for the upcoming show at St Pancras church with Fennesz, Philip Jeck and Old Apparatus. We’ve got three pairs of tickets for the show to give away: they’ll be awarded to the first three people to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org with the words ‘Tony Conrad/FACT’ in the subject field.