Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

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DIODE SNORTER
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Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by DIODE SNORTER »

Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)
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Of all the strange, loud, unique and terrifying sounds I've come across over the years, this one might take the cake. Ladies and Gentlemen, this album is, without a doubt, the most insane thing I've heard in recent memory. I think that's mostly because I simply haven’t had an album blindside me this hard in such a long time.


I thought I was going to be in for a unique, goofy little curiosity: an album entirely predicated upon the idea of ordinary latex balloons used as musical instruments. And that’s exactly what I got… initially. The opening “Piece For Solo Tenor Balloon” is a bit of an endurance test at well over eight minutes long, yet it's impossible to listen to without at least cracking a smile: it sounds exactly as ridiculous as one may think, so ridiculous that one can't help but laugh at it. Even so, I also couldn't help but appreciate what must've been an impressive degree of technical skill that went into performing this piece, despite ultimately being in service to a ludicrous concept.


This is when things took a turn...


Whereas "Piece For Solo Tenor Balloon" was a more or less unbroken composition, “Bluebird” (its immediate successor) comprises of several short bursts of balloon noises repeated and looped at irregular intervals. I've heard countless releases of cutup noise before this that I thought sounded similar, though I figured it was just another impressive display of technique: only later did I learn the source material for this track (provided by Ms. Dunaway) was processed and ultimately composed by none other than Yasunao Tone via his signature ‘prepared CDs’ technique. The surprising escalation of Balloon Music makes more sense in hindsight now given this bit of trivia, but I had no idea this was the case until after I had finished the album: I thought this was going to be Ms. Dunaway's solo show from start to finish.


The following track “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime” is plainly hilarious... for the first few minutes. It's prime fodder for a good 'joke' music playlist—right alongside the 'greatest hits' for kazoo—but did it need to be thirteen minutes long? I think not.


The next track is where this album truly becomes unhinged: friends, this is the point where I was caught off guard. Here I thought I was in for another half hour or so of pretentious, intermittently amusing ballads played on a blatantly non-musical instrument; superfluous yet fun... and then "Champagne In Mexico City - Fragment Set #1" annihilated all preconceptions. After the first half hour or so of hearing this drivel played [mostly] straight, the last thing I expected to hear was a straight-up harsh noise track, and a damn good one at that. This piece is partially credited to a guy by the name of Dan Evans Farkas, and it's this point I must ask, sincerely: has anyone heard of this man? His discogs page is suspiciously under-populated by a handful of assorted credits for various movies and TV shows, but little else. I’ve been a part of this whole noise/experimental music subculture for well over fifteen years now, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen his name pop up once, a fact so stunning to me I simply refuse to believe it. Truthfully, I’m surprised this album hasn’t been brought up either, especially given the implied innuendo of the subject matter, a comparison Ms. Dunaway herself alludes to in the album’s liner notes: how this hasn’t been on anyone’s radar, especially for the kinds of noise folk who focus heavily on the paraphilic/fetishistic aspects of the genre, is baffling to me.


Other tracks of note include “Rubber Patchwork Quilt” and “Champagne In Mexico City - Fragment Set #2,” but honestly, by this point I had been skipping through large chunks of the album: the sheer novelty of the album’s core concept isn’t enough to compensate for all of the album’s shortcomings, just some of them.


Balloon Music rides between several thin lines—genius and insanity, comedy and tragedy, challenge and frustration...—to the point where I honestly don’t know what to make of it. I laughed, I cried; I laughed, and applauded, and shouted, and screamed. But beyond all else, I was left utterly slack-jawed.

Click here to listen to a sample on youtube, though it honestly doesn't do the whole experience justice.
Joie de la Blumpy
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Re: Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by Joie de la Blumpy »

Fuggin great shit! Am thinking this could be the latter day "in stereo" rendition of Violent Onsen Geisha's Wild Johny Guitar Man(?) from the forever to be treasured Otis?
confuzzled
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Re: Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by confuzzled »

Joie de la Blumpy wrote: Wed Nov 29, 2023 10:28 am Fuggin great shit! Am thinking this could be the latter day "in stereo" rendition of Violent Onsen Geisha's Wild Johny Guitar Man(?) from the forever to be treasured Otis?
Is this a comp? Its fucking amazing!
John Eden
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Re: Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by John Eden »

Oh nice. I saw her perform in London in 2016 and really enjoyed it. I’d say her work definitely works better when you can see her making the noises and balloons happen. But the sonics were great too and there were some superb drones from a huge balloon.
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John Eden
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Re: Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by John Eden »

This looks like a great audio interview with her:
https://rwm.macba.cat/en/sonia/sonia-252-judy-dunaway
Joie de la Blumpy
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Re: Judy Dunaway - Balloon Music (1998)

Post by Joie de la Blumpy »

confuzzled wrote: Thu Dec 14, 2023 10:11 am
Joie de la Blumpy wrote: Wed Nov 29, 2023 10:28 am Fuggin great shit! Am thinking this could be the latter day "in stereo" rendition of Violent Onsen Geisha's Wild Johny Guitar Man(?) from the forever to be treasured Otis?
Is this a comp? Its fucking amazing!
To the extent that everything Violent Onsen Geisha does could be described as a comp (ie very much so), sure!
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