This is John Fekner’s second record album. His first was produced two years ago by the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Fekner is a visual artist as well as a musician. He is clearly associated with the East Village “Post-Graffiti” group. His word/images were shown at the Civilian Warfare Gallery in May 1984. IDIOBLAST is distributed by EXIT Art in New York.
Although Fekner has been involved in serious art-making since 1972, he experienced what might be termed an ideological shift in the 1970s. His recent work has been intensely political without sacrificing a certain inate poetic quality sound. He mixes fragments of televised political speeches with advertising and other pre-recorded mundane statements. These collaged sound fragments are backed-up with an intense rock and roll beat. It reminds me a bit of John Cage’s VARIATION IV, also a sound collage (1965), with an uptempo beat. There are also elements of real time “ phase music,” particularly the early repetition of Steve Reich where fragments of speech are recorded on a tape loop. Fekner’s music is less refined and plays heavily upon the media glut.
Fekner’s group, City Squad, incorporates vocal arrangements with keyboards, bass, and synsonic drums. The result is very urban, a slice of East Village life with an ear for ecstasy.