21054-2, 2 CDs, $21.00
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CD 1: 11 April 1991 (Track 1): Keith Humble, piano, Jean-Charles Francois,
percussion, John Silber, trombone, violin, Mary Oliver, violin, viola
11 April 1991 (Track 2): Keith Humble, piano, Jean-Charles Francois,
percussion, John Silber, trombone, violin
CD 2: June 1985 (Track 1): Keith Humble, DX7, electronics, Jean-Charles
Francois, percussion, electronics, John Silber, trombone, violin, electronics
Two Poems of the Absurd & Two Poems on the Absurd (tape collage by
John Silber of KIVA performances) (Track 2): Keith Humble, DX7, voice, electronics,
Jean-Charles Francois, percussion, voice, electronics, John Silber, trombone,
violin, voice, electronics, Mary Oliver, violin Eric Lyon, computer vocoder
manipulations of John Silber's sounds.
The research/performance group KIVA was created in 1975 by the American trombonist
John Silber and the French percussionist Jean-Charles François as part
of a research project at the Center for Music Experiment at the University of
California San Diego. During the period of its existence (1975-91) various members
(often graduate students from UCSD) joined the two permanent musicians, John
Silber and Jean-Charles François, to contribute to the group's artistic
production. Two personalities had an important impact on the development of
the KIVA aesthetical posture: the Korean dancer Hi-ah Park between 1978 and
1985, and the Australian pianist and composer Keith Humble between 1984 and
The important contribution of the KIVA project to the artistic field can be
defined as an emancipation of the classical performer from the role of interpreter
of written music to one that involved being fully an actor of artistic creation
through the direct production of sounds on instruments and related objects.
This has been often characterized in the musical world as "improvisation".
But the group would not adhere to the overtones associated with this word, implying
spontaneous behavior or social interactions without specified aesthetical content.
For KIVA the refusal to use any notation on paper was the occasion to access
the complex and chaotic nature of sound objects. Through an everyday work in
progress, the group was able to elaborate an original language constituted directly
from working on sound matter. KIVA described itself as an experimental group
dedicated to notationless music, mixed media, extended instrumental techniques.
The group KIVA has always refused to publish its work through recordings. Every
working session of KIVA was recorded on audio format, but this only constituted
a tool for the reflection of its members. The real artistic object was always
considered to be the contextual circumstances of a given performance, the reenactment,
always different, of the working out of already elaborated sound materials.
In this sense no particular instant can be regarded as constituting a work object
of the KIVA experience. But the context today has changed, since two of the
main important members have died (Keith Humble and John Silber), the other protagonists
are getting old, and so are the few who have been fortunate to listen to KIVA's
performances. The publication of a CD of selected performances of KIVA today
makes sense, in that it documents an important historical moment and provides
the artistic community with sonic references of this ephemeral type of work.