When Angus MacLise decided to leave The Theatre Of Eternal Music in 1964, its founder La Monte Young needed to rethink the group’s concept. The avantgarde composer had formed it three years earlier to develop his idea of dream-chord music, and MacLise’s sparse, somewhat absent yet precise drumming had become an integral part of it.

The Theatre Of Eternal Music, ca. 1963 (detail cover art LP The Theatre Of Eternal Music, 2013)

In addition to the Haitian, medieval and jazz techniques Angus MacLise already knew, he left New York City to study the ethnic percussion traditions of Morocco – in situ. It was not only musical aspects that MacLise appreciated about other cultures. At the age of 19, in 1957, he had discovered Buddhism and developed an intense personal relationship with this philosophical tradition and its rites. This is probably why trance became an important aspect in his sound works.

MacLise was fascinated by real ceremonies, but he also created his own ones. With the help of a tape recorder, he embedded the verses of his poem Smothered Under Astral Collapse in his recordings of the Tibetan Mahakala Puja and mixed these elements with eerie electronics.

Angus MacLise as The Methedrine Cardinal (photo by Ira Cohen, detail cover art CD Astral Collapse, 2003)

November 1965, with his wife Hetty playing the organ, is one of the longer tape works (15-30 min) that Angus MacLise arranged. The title marks the month in which he left The Velvet Underground. Although the band had not yet released a record, it had already become too much of a product for him. MacLise rather appreciated the communicative aspect of jamming, as he did with the free-form ensemble Universal Mutant Repertory Company or when experimenting with John Cale and Tony Conrad.

For the Universal Solar Calendar, MacLise came up with names for the 365 days of the year. Some of these were used as titles for recordings of sessions by The Theatre Of Eternal Music. In 1964, the founder of fluxus, George Maciunas produced a print of the calendar with all the days in MacLise’s calligraphic handwriting.

The New Universal Solar Calendar (detail, produced by George Maciunas, 1964)

Angus MacLise was a link between Beat culture, New York City‘s art scene and the hippies. He never released a record, but a number of his interventions and solo works were recorded on tape. Unfortunately, he left no notes on these recordings, and they were not released until nearly 20 years after his untimely death at the age of 41 in Kathmandu in 1979.

78 minutes with nine pieces by the enigmatic artist who has made a name for himself as a drummer, composer, poet and calligrapher.

Featured cover art: Angus MacLise – Angus MacLise

New York in the Sixties – A Hotbed for Experiments

Whether conceptual or performance art, electronic music, counterculture, minimalism, drone sounds, or fluxus – New York City is a hotbed for all sorts of experiments during the Sixties. 62 minutes with Angus MacLise, Henry Flynt, La Monte Young & Marian Zazeela, Richard Maxfield and others.

Angus MacLise – Trance

Excerpt from what appears to be a live ceremony. (unk., Counter Culture Chronicles)

Angus MacLise – Dawn Chorus

A fictional ceremony arranged on tape. (unk., Quakebasket)

Angus MacLise / Hetty MacLise – November 1965

One of MacLise‘s longer tape works (15-30 min); the title marks the month he left The Velvet Underground. (1965, Boo Hooray)

Angus MacLise – Universal Solar Calendar

For the Universal Solar Calendar, MacLise came up with names for the 365 days of the year. (early 1960s, Sub Rosa)

The Theatre Of Eternal Music – 19 X 63 Fifth Day Of The Hammer; Bb Dorian Blues (excerpt)

Session with John Cale, La Monte Young, Marian Zazeela, and Tony Conrad; named after MacLise’s Universal Solar Calendar. (1963, none)

Universal Mutant Repertory Company – Heavenly Blue Pt. 4&5

Session with the free-form ensemble consisting of Henry Flynt, Jackson Mac Low, Loren Standlee, Raja Samyana, Tony Conrad, and Ziska Baum. (btw. 1968 and ’72, Quakebasket)

Angus MacLise / John Cale / Tony Conrad – Four Speed Trance

One of the many collaborations with John Cale and Tony Conrad. (1965, Sub Rosa)

Angus MacLise – Smothered Under Astral Collapse

Audio poem inspired by the Tibetan Mahakala Puja. (unk., Quakebasket)

Angus MacLise – Drum, Harmonium, Electric Viola

Jamming as a means of communication. (unk., Art Into Life)

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