Angus MacLise (ex-Velvet Underground) gets rare albums reissued and a retrospective; still no love for Squeeze

Angus MacLise (ex-Velvet Underground) gets rare albums reissued and a retrospective; still no love for Squeeze

Whoa whoa whoa, stop right there, Velvet Underground superfan! I see that copy of Mistrial under your arm, and now you’re checking the credits on the back cover of Caribbean Sunset? Come on, man, put both of those back. I understand what you’re going through, you want to discover that old VU magic in any related slice of music, however tangential. I’ve been there, for sure (still searching for a copy of Sterling Morrison’s Tugboat Tunes Vol. 1), but at a certain point you really need to step away from those core members and their solo albums that sound like stale leather and start delving into the much more rewarding recordings of VU’s shadowy early members. There’s Walter De Maria and his immersive Cricket Music/Ocean Music, there’s Henry Flynt and his hillbilly violin workouts, Fluxus sound pieces, and rippin’ protest rock, and at the very top of the Velvet pyramid sits the mystical poet, traveler, and musician Angus MacLise.

Information on MacLise’s personal history and artistic output has been piecemeal over the years, with a couple music collections released in 1999/2000 on Siltbreeze (available for free at UbuWeb) and the occasional anecdote from those who knew him (Lou Reed claims he left VU because they were playing shows with set starting/stopping times), so it’s exciting (and long overdue) that the mysterious fellow is getting a comprehensive retrospective at an NYC art gallery. Dreamweapon: The Art and Life of Angus MacLise (1938-1979) had its opening at the Boo-Hooray Gallery last Tuesday and is still around until May 29, with a different showcase of MacLise’s music for each day (taken from more than 100 hours of material entrusted to La Monte Young 30 years ago).

The exhibition, curated by Johan Kugelberg and Will Cameron, also displays artwork, photographs, manuscripts, calligraphy, and other ephemera associated with MacLise, resulting in the closest thing to a life narrative that this underground legend’s going to get. A fancy exhibition catalog has been made for the occasion in an edition of 1000 copies, and an even fancier version that includes a CD of unreleased music and poetry is available (if you’re filthy stinking rich) in an edition of 100.

For those who don’t live in New York, Boo-Hooray has two new collections of music available on LP for the discerning mind-imploder: Dreamweapon I, which collects live recordings of MacLise’s collaborations with Tony Conrad and Jack Smith, and Dreamweapon III, which gathers some more audio evidence of MacLise and Conrad collaborating. Did I mention this guy was also a founding member of The Theatre of Eternal Music? This guy’s roots go deep. Go to the exhibition, snag both LPs, dim the lights, take in the sounds, get inspired to buy a bongo.

• Boo-Hooray:

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